Food production is more than just working a field and being at the whim of Mother Nature. There are many technical and learning elements farmers use to have successful harvests. Farm & Food Care Ontario works hard to share with Ontarians the ins and outs of local Ontario farming and the people who do this work.
I was pleased to be invited this year’s tour to see how food production on two different farms has evolved from the traditional thought of caring for animals and crops. You can view last year’s tour here!
The Learning Behind Food Production with Farm & Food Care Ontario
Our first stop of this tour was to Drouin Turkey Farm. Jean Francois and Marie-Pair opened the doors to their poult and hen barns to give us a closer look at how Turkey production has become more technical.
Turkey food production bits
Wondering what a poult is? One of the first things we learned on this tour was that poults are baby turkeys! Greg, Rachel, and Emily from Turkey Farmers of Ontario were on hand to talk turkey and food production.
Since 2003, The Flock Care Program makes sure turkeys are responsibly cared for by farmers from birth until they leave the farm. A part of this program demands training and inspection to make sure turkeys are raised well.
Before gaining access to the barns, the Drouin showed us some of the technology they use on their farm. The system helps to monitor the living conditions, the feed, and water the turkeys receive in each barn.
Dressed in our marshmallowy best suites to prevent cross contamination of germs, our group got to visit with the poults. This was an amazing experience. I have never been around so many turkeys before, and to see these little wonders melted my heart.
I have never held a small bird before, and this was my first chance to get to do so! These baby birds were really light and looked fragile, but I could easily feel how strong they were. I may be a bit biased, but this honey was the best one in the room.
We then moved onto the hen barn. These larger birds were feisty! They were hopping around, snuggling up to each other, or showing off for us by stretching out and flapping their wings.
We were also able to see some of the equipment within the barns to help feed and water them. Food, water, and the temperature are all being monitored by the control panel outside of these rooms. We had fun gobbling up all of the turkey details.
Enjoying one ‘Taste of Ontario’ after another
Once we bid fare well to Drouin Turkey Farm, we tucked in to our ‘Taste of Ontario’ lunch catered by Take Another Bite at the Morewood Community Hall. This talented catering company put together three tasty courses for us to devour.
Gooey, crunchy deliciousness
Our first dish: a beautiful Cauliflower Croquette. This dish included extra-old cheese from the Greater Ottawa area, smoked paprika, sourdough crumbs, roasted tomatoes, and saffron canola aioli.
I have never had anything like it! It was gooey, crunchy, and all over delicious! This dish was an amazing way to start off our lunch!
A warmup to Thanksgiving
The next dish was Brined Turkey Breast Roulande with Honeycrisp Apple, Fennel, Tarragon, and Pancetta. A Pilaf with Wheatberries, Millet, Red and White Quinoa, Cous Cous, and Herbs and seasonal vegetables accompanied our roulade on the plate.
This dish was a tasty way to welcome fall. I loved trying to get a little piece of everything on a fork to enjoy. Each bite I took was cozy and savoury. This dish made me feel as though it was a yummy warmup to Thanksgiving this year!
A trifle of sweetness
To end our lunch, Take Another Bite put together a sweet Trifle to enjoy. This dish included local Honey Poached Pear, Canola Oil Pound Cake, Cider Jelly, Ginger Anglaise, and Meringue Crisp.
I thought I wouldn’t have any room in my stomach to put this trifle of sweetness, but I was wrong! I had a lot of fun sampling all of the components of this dessert. The different flavours all came together to complete this marvellous meal.
I could only imagine the amount of skill and learning has gone into perfecting our ‘Taste of Ontario’ lunch. The technical aspects of some of the elements of this meal could be tricky to master. I really appreciated all of the hard work Take Another Bite put into this meal. It was a lunch I won’t soon forget.
A hands-on lesson in food production
Our last stop was to Cedar Lodge Farms to speak with Warren Scheneckenburger (or Farmer Schneck) and his parents. They talked about the evolution of the work they have had to do in order to have a better harvest.
The Scheneckenburger family welcomed us to their farm. They spoke to us about the importance of not leaving all of the work on the farm up to nature to deal with. They rely on a higher level of education, along with nature, to grow their corn crops.
Sustainable fields = Healthier, better crops
One key aspect Warren stressed was keeping the fields sustainable to yield healthy crops year after year. Some of this knowledge he picked up from growing up on his family farm. A lot of it he learned from his post-secondary education, agricultural conferences, and training beyond the farm.
Warren is a true showman. He educated and entertained us by setting up three experiments to demonstrate why sustainable fields are so important to farmers.
My favourite experiment Warren showed us centred around the field’s ability to absorb water. It was a a crash course in how important it is to have healthy and well formed soil in order for crops to survive.
Why is it important for soil to absorb water to have a healthy field? If soil is able to keep water in it, the water can get into the crops planted into them easier. If water cannot be kept in the soil, it will pond and run off, taking the nutrients out of the soil in the fields. Crops will no longer be able to grow, making if difficult for farms to survive.
Big tools to get the job done
The Scheneckenburgers then introduced us to some of the tools of their trade: their large collection of equipment to help them tend to their crops.
Many of these vehicles need a bit of training to learn how to use the tech within them. Warren and his family stressed how these pieces of equipment are key to helping to improve their fields and their crops.
We were invited to check out the big tools and to have a look at a part of their corn crop in their field. It was impressive to learn how important all of this knowledge and training is necessary to yield a success harvest.
Learning to improve food production
I learn so much about how food production is evolving and the people behind the food Ontarians eat on Farm & Food Ontario’s Fall Farm Tours . I enjoyed meeting my new best poult friend while gobbling up a lot of turkey knowledge at Drouin Turkey Farm. We savoured bite after bite of local flavours from our ‘Taste of Ontario’ lunch from Take Another Bite. Sustainability and evolving education is key at Cedar Lodge Farms with the Scheneckenburger family. I am really curious to see what Farm & Food Care Ontario has in store next year and to see how food production is evolving in different areas of agriculture.
Want to find our more about wha term & Food Care Ontario does to educate Ontarians about food production? We found out more by visiting their website and discovered the lasted they are sharing on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages!
Disclaimer: I was invited by Farm & Food Care Ontario on a media tour to learn about food production at local Ottawa area farms. The views expressed are my own.