I had a most relaxing and wonderful time in awhile, having the opportunity to get away for a night to a mutual friend’s farm. Not to mention fun! After work on Saturday, Steven and I drove (in Liz’s car) to Tony’s farm Wheelbarrow Farm. Located in Sunderland, just north of Uxbridge, settled in the rolling and gently slopping hills of Ontario’s Greenbelt. Just amazingly fertile and beautiful country. I had been there last year, the first year that Tony was farming, but in July when everything was in bloom and the place was just bursting with greens, leaves, peas, root vegetables and flowers.
Not so much the case in May, but you could see how everything was just about to go in full harvest mode. I was really happy to walk around the premises and see what Tony has in store for this year’s harvest, especially since we got a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) this year for the first time ever. From June to October I will be getting a mixed ‘basket’ of organic vegetables and other goodies from what I have gleamed.
Tony’s farm is exemplary of a ‘mixed-farm’, and perhaps the closest thing I have seen that comes close to my grade 6 project in which I had to map out my dream farm (It was extensive and elaborate. I will have to find it so I can scan and post it in the future). On ten acres Tony, with the help of his interns, brother Chris and father Ken, is growing a wide array and variety of greens, root vegetables, squashes, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, corn(!), garlic, leeks, raspberries, strawberries, garlic, kiwi berries(!) and other things I can’t remember. Moreover, he’s also just recently started cultivating a fruit orchard (apples and peaches?!), nut orchard (”ready for 2012!”) and other endeavours that will certainly pay off in the future, hopefully.
Not to mention, Tony is raising heritage Berkshire pigs and silkie chickens.
Tony had invited a bunch of us to stay over for the weekend, a good mix of city and farmer folk. Some of us helped with some weeding and extending the pig pen. We fed the pigs and toured the premises marveling over the land. I spent some time trying to catch the silkie chickens and holding them. A bunch of us made dinner (salad from the farm, jerk chicken made by Steven, Guinness-coke marinated ribs made by Andrew, pickled eggs from Adrian, delicious vegan stir fry rice noodle dish made by Long, veggie burgers, grilled asparagus and roast sweet potatoes) and we ate, drinking laughing and conversing by the fire until past 1 am.
Liz and I managed to make ’sbananas’ as Tony calls them (chocolate stuffed
bananas made by slitting the fruit and peel) late at night and we cautiously ate the steaming fruit full of velvety melted chocolate (we BBQ-ed them) with our bare hands (except for Liz who somehow got a hold of a spoon).
The next day, after a breakfast of raspberry chocolate pancakes and a LOT of coffee, and cleaning, we went to visit the Alpacas next door.
Despite being sneezed and snotted on by one back in November at the Royal Agricultural Fair, I had no reservation getting close to them. They were so goofy looking with their poofy hair-dos and ‘leg warmers’. There are no photos, but they looked funny as they simultaneously looked up at us curiously, their long necks stretched out and floppy fuzzy hair cuts.
One of them was particularly friendly. And only gently nibbled on our hands when we fed him/her grass and petted its head.
We stopped for fried pickles on our way home, as per tradition.
After a short jaunt in Uxbridge, we decided to stop in to Richters before driving back to Toronto, basically a gardener’s wet dream with its massive greenhouse and variety of plants, and despite being crammed in the car with people and stuff, Liz and I got fig plants, and Kristin got a passion flower. The drive back was also fantastic and I felt particularly privileged to witness some of best agricultural land in the world. It just blows my mind, what can be grown not far from the city, but mostly also, that most people in Toronto or those living in urban centres do not get to see where or how food grows…
It was hard to go back to the city.