Monday, July 12, 2010

Ottawa Valley Organic Farm Tour

We are delighted to find ourselves amongst a community of local farmers, quite inadvertently...when we took on our flock of hens, it was as a favour to a friend who had to pass them on. Now, the eggs they lay are traded for vegetables and raw milk, and we're in conversation with friends at Earth Rocks...looks like we may barter eggs for "green" dishsoap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc.! It's a wonderful circle of community trading. We used to keep our "egg money" in a large Mason jar and use it for buying more chicken feed. However, food in the fridge is a much better deal.

On that note, we've decided to make the shift to feeding our chickens 100% organic food from Homestead Organics. At the moment, we've been mixing a bag of organic lay mash with one of non-organic to make it go further. We sell them as "mostly organic eggs from free-range chickens". We have a faithful, small customer base. Once, when I thought we'd have to ditch the organic feed altogether because of the cost, these friends protested. They WANT organic eggs and are willing to pay more for them! Other neighbours, hardcore "locals" who are used to paying $2.50 at the grocery store and at other farm gates for non-organic eggs have dug their heels in and refuse to buy our eggs. It's really interesting to see how food quality can be such a divisive issue. People pay lots of money to buy good quality shoes, barbeques, lawn-mowers, motor boats...but they'll be damned if they'll pay $1.50 more for highest-quality eggs. And they appear to think that we're scamming people by charging what we do, when the money we "make" from our eggs doesn't even cover the cost of feeding them, let alone the work of keeping them fed and watered, and their coop clean. I just feel that if I'm going to go to the work of raising chickens to have home-grown eggs for my children, I want them to be as far from mass-produced, industrial grocery store eggs as possible.

Which brings me to today's topic: The Ottawa Valley Organic Farm Tour! We attended the kick-off on Saturday night, at Donegal Heritage Farm, which is about a 10-minute drive from here. At the end of a narrow, gravel road, we came to a gate; the kids were delighted to see me get out of the van, open the gate, drive through, get out, and close the gate before we drove up to the farm! Tom McCullough and Joanne Zomers are the happy farmers who raise organic eggs, chicken, pork, lambs, and so on, in the most beautiful of settings. They are also the owners of The Red Canoe Cafe in Wilno, which features locally-grown food.

The evening included:

.:baby animals!

.:live local musicians! (shown here: Ish Theilheimer and Barney McCaffery)

.:a tour of the farm!

.:an amazing array of mostly-local, home-cooked fare

.:and a tree swing!

What more could one ask of a rural Saturday evening? The sky was clear, the kids ran off with other stranger-friends as only kids can do, and I sat around on the grass eating rhubarb crumble with strawberry puree, chatting with Kylah of Rainbow Heritage Gardens and her lovely friend Juniper. We almost got our fill of chubby-baby snuggles with her darling Dayvah...because how could you ever get enough of that?

In the beautiful evening sunshine, Dayvah had her own local, organic meal (courtesy of her mama), and I just had to get a pic of those gorgeous, healthy legs, curled up in nursey-bliss.

The Sunday portion of the tour includes visits to two local farms that focus on raising food organically. Thanks to Michael Ilgert (the farmer who provides raw milk to local foodies) for organizing such a wonderful event, and to Joanne and Tom for opening their doors and feeding all the visitors!

.:handmade thank you cards are always appreciated!
These will go into the mailbox today.

I realise in writing this that some of you may be wishing you'd known about this event in advance! Next year, I'll be sure to give advance notice, with a link to this year's pictures, so that maybe we can meet and dine together on the grass at a local farm!


  1. That sounds wonderful. I would love to know about this for next year!

  2. Looks like a beautiful evening. I love that babies legs!

  3. looks like a beautiful afternoon! can't wait to NOT work weekends, (someday), so I can partake in events like this!!!
    xo maureen

  4. Ah yes, one of the activities I was frustrated to miss this weekend. We're so busy shuttling the kids about to their many activities that it often precludes taking in other local events. But that's okay, cuz it's fun watching our free-range kids grow and experience so many of their own wonderful things :-)

  5. How great to be able to barter your eggs for other things you need. I'm such a fan of bartering, it just makes so much good sense.

  6. thanks Steph, for the great photos!!! I was too busy to even think about taking pictures. Also want to say that our "farm manager" which is a formal way of saying "the guy who works really hard to do all the shit work that we don't have time for" Henning Hollatz is responsible for all those sleek piggies and general animal welfare! thanks for coming out and for being so inspirational about rural life in all its joys and sorrows.

  7. What a wonderful community and such a lovely outing. Beautiful.
    I enjoyed reading your post. We feed organic feed and it is expensive, but I agree that it is worth it.


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