By: Tina Novotny
If you are an urbanite like me who likes to channel their inner farmer, then a local country fair isn’t going to cut it.
I need something more; a deep dive into what it’s like to live and work on a real farm.
The problem is there aren’t many real farms in Toronto.
And, even if there were, the farmers would be too busy growing crops and raising livestock to show me around. What I need is a farm open-house or a farmer meet-and-greet.
That’s the basic premise behind “Field-To-Table,” a unique self-guided tour of some of Georgina’s working farms.
For one day, Saturday, August 17th, local farmers were on-hand to answer questions, provide demonstrations and impart their knowledge on everything from how to grow the best-tasting rhubarb, raise champion chickens, and care for the cutest baby lambs.
And, I, like hundreds of others, was there to lap it all up.
Eight farms participated in the second annual Field-To-Table event, which is put on by the Town of Georgina.
And again it was a big hit, with visitors from far and wide purchasing fresh produce, delectable meats, and artisans’ crafts, while learning more about the area’s 200-plus years of agricultural life.
The farms were located throughout Georgina, and “tour-ists” received collector stamps for their maps and the chance to win a grand prize draw.
Because there was livestock present at many locations, guests were asked to please leave family pets at home – better than stuck in a hot car!
The Hutchings’ Family Farm in Pefferlaw was one of my tour stops.
Inside their on-farm shop, free sandwiches and coleslaw were served up by Nicole and Rob from The Belvedere Cookhouse.
Marie Breen also had a table selling heavenly smelling-soaps.
Marie B’s Life Tree Products has 15 different varieties – I couldn’t resist one called The Kitchen Sink, with ground coffee and peppermint.
Marie has been creating her soaps for about a decade, but the inspiration goes much further back.
“My grandmother made and grew everything living on a farm,” she says. “That’s why I wanted to keep up the tradition.”
There was also a booth from the Georgina Chamber of Commerce, where Kendall Schwertfeger talked about the new tourism centre and other initiatives.
“If I opened a local business, I would definitely join the Chamber of Commerce,” she said. “There’s so much they do for businesses, and also for new residents.”
Erin Hutchings was a big help to Kendall and enjoyed The Railfence Bunch booth with their children’s books and fun activities for kids.
Though many of these folks have roots in the area, others come to start their own new histories.
The Hutchings family has both, with husband and wife Kevin and Sandra meeting at a Lake Simcoe ice fishing derby before buying their “fixer-upper” farm together in 2001.
Joined by their three girls and son Aiden, the Hutchings are a true working farm family, producing eggs, chicken, turkey, lamb and seasonal vegetables – for sale from daughter Hayleigh during the event.
The family also competes in 4H and at the Royal Winter Fair, where daughter Hannah won Grand Champion Lamb last year. “I still tear up, I’m so proud!” says Sandra.
Sandra’s passions also run to inventing new products at the farm, such as wool dryer balls (good-bye wrinkled laundry!) and felt soaps.
Her yoga and jar salad events are hugely popular, and she has even more ideas up her sleeve for “supporting local.”
So how does she juggle all the traffic as a mother of four, busy farmer and entrepreneur? “Just message me on Facebook,” she laughs. “I’m usually home, or I’ll let you know when I’ll be back!”
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