Food at All Stages of Production with Farm & Food Care Ontario
Food. We all enjoy it in one form or another. I feel that it is important to learn about how the food we create fabulous dishes with gets to our homes. Farm & Food Care Ontario feels the same way, too and wants Ontarians to feel as though they can trust how food is produced in our province. Their goal is to give credible information on food and farming in Ontario. They invited Ottawa Mommy Club on their fall tour of farms around the Ottawa area to get a first-hand look at some of the food and farming in our region. I was really excited to be a part of this season’s trip.
Our first stop was to Schouten Corner View Farm Ltd. This farm is the home to a biogas system. To be honest, I had never heard of this machine, so I was intrigued to find out how it impacted this farm and the community around it.
A biogas system converts organic wastes into methane gas through the process of anaerobic digestion. The main part of this machine is a large tank that changes the waste into methane gas. The waste left behind can be used to fertilize the neighbouring farms in the area.
The biogas system on the Schouten Corner View Farm owned by Rick Schouten consists of 500m³ digester, 200m³ liquid waste tank, a pasteurizer, and two solid waste bunkers. It was so interesting to see what the results of the biogas system once the process was complete. It was also fascinating to learn how farms in the same community work together to make their businesses flourish together.
We then bustled over to Foster Custom Farming, a beef and crop farm owned by Dwight and Ruth Ann Foster and their family. We got to have a first-hand look at the beef feedlot barn (built in 2016) that is like no other within the Ottawa area. To say it huge would be an understatement. It was large enough for our tour bus to fit through the pathway in its centre with ease.
Inside, it housed a plethora of cattle. At capacity, it can hold up to 3 000 cattle every year. Adjacent to the feedlot is another large barn where the Fosters can tend to cows one-on-one should one get sick. It was good to see that the cattle were well looked after while at this farm.
We then went to their grain business, North Gower Grains to learn about the shipment of this product from farm to truck. We stood on the scale where the trucks would park while grain was being poured into them from the grain elevators above.
We also got a glimpse of the control tower where the technicians would sit and make sure the trucks were the right weight before transporting the grain to their next level of production. It was fun to see how much we weighed and how everything translated from the ground level to the control tower.
All of this fun made us work up an appetite. We were then bussed off for a fabulous fall-themed lunch at Strathmere. This 200-acre retreat has so many beautiful buildings, and we got the chance to dine in the Garden House during this visit. We had a gorgeous walk from the parking lot to the main doors of this building.
Once inside, we took our seats at the seasonally decorated tables to wait for our meal to begin. We were really excited to take a look at the menu Farm & Food Care and Strathmere collaborated on to wow us. Below is the menu of our lunch for this trip:
Moroccan Roasted Carrot & Squash Soup
Garnished with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and & Yogurt Crème Fraîche
This soup was a great way to start our meal. It was light, yet warm and with so much flavour. The day was a cooler than many of the other we had experienced. This dish not only helped to shake the chill of the day, it brought everyone at my table closer together as we raved about the deliciousness in front of us.
Local Beer Cheese Sauce served with Fine Herb Fingerling Potato Wedges
Orchard Plum, Apple & Pear Streusel Crumble
With Butter, Brown Sugar, Spiced Oat Topping
Each course we were served was superb! This soup was a great way to start our meal. It was light, yet warm and with so much flavour.
I am still dreaming about this burger. The beef patty was really thick and juicy. The Local Beer Cheese Sauce gooey and went so well with the Onion Jam on this sandwich. What put this burger over the top was the double-smoked bacon. All of these flavours blended to create a smoky, saucy dish that I wished I had more of to enjoy.
The Streusel Crumble was out of this world. Out of all of the meals, nothing said fall better than this dish. It was sweet and homey. It was fun to taste the fruit blend separate from the streusel crumble, but when a spoonful of all of this dessert’s components was the best way to eat this dish. I was really sad when my bowl was empty.
The day was a cooler than many of the other we had experienced so far in fall. This meal not only helped to shake the chill of the day, it brought everyone at my table closer together as we raved about the deliciousness in front of us.
Our tour ended where most of our food begins: at the growing stage. We visited Mike Mederiros at Carleton Mushroom Farm. I was expecting to be outdoors for this last portion of the trip, but I was in for a surprise once we arrived.
The first thing that came into my head when I thought about mushrooms was dirt. When we were ushered inside the facility, I was taken back at how sterile it was. I was beginning to wonder what we were going to see. Mike showed us the shipping bay and how each of the state-of-the-art rooms were controlled from the outside by the panels. Air quality, lighting, and temperature could all be seen from this point.
We then got the opportunity to see where all of the magic happened. Besides the mushroom beds, everything was so clean. We got to see mushrooms at different stages of growth. We also learned about how long it takes to grow mushrooms ready for consumption (about 10-14 days), and that little was wasted at this farm to improve on the quality of the mushrooms they were producing. It may sound weird to say, but it was a beautiful farm to visit and to see the process this product goes through was fabulous.
The Farm & Food Care Fall Tour was an experience I will not soon forget. I learned so much about the food cycle and the care that is put in at every stage. It was also inspiring to see the positive direction in which food production is headed. I was truly honoured to have been a part of this trip and to see how well this corner of our province is doing to care about the food and produce being put on its citizen’s tables.