Agritourism is a popular word these days in the tourism industry. It’s what everyone in “the business” is talking about. But for those of us who simply want to enjoy our rural communities and all they have to offer, we don’t really know what the word means. All we know is that we get to have fun on the farm, enjoy a pick-your-own experience, glamp in a yurt, meet some adorable animals, and spend a day enjoying an on-farm or farmer’s market. We don’t care about “the biz,” we care about the memories we make with our families and loved ones.
That’s exactly what agritourism aims for—it’s a cool and unique way to introduce you to agriculture as something to be enjoyed and experienced. Here in York Durham Headwaters, we’ve got some really amazing agritourism businesses that you have probably heard of. Maybe you’ve already been there. And while we use the official word “agritourism,” to you it’s just a fun day with lots of great memories. Here are some of our agritourism businesses that you didn’t even know were “in the biz.”
1595 Concession Rd 3, Beaverton
Get up-close and personal with an adorable alpaca. These are gentle creatures who communicate in clicks and hums, and whose fleece is impossibly soft. Farmers Sandra and Geoff Bannon loved the idea of running their own alpaca farm so much that they left corporate city life behind in favour of rural pastures. Perhaps this is why they are so eager to invite you to the farm, where you can take a guided tour, book a photography session, and purchase alpaca products like knitted items, yarn, and even “Paca Poo,” a wonderful natural fertilizer. Agritourism has never been so gosh-darn-cute!
Elliott Tree Farm
9467 Erin East Garafraxa Townline, Hillsburgh
For many families throughout YDH, cutting your own Christmas tree is a time-honoured tradition that simply cannot be missed. It is a chance to get out into the fresh, winter air, select a perfect family tree, and spend time doing wholesome, Christmassy activities. A day spent at one of our YDH cut-your-own Christmas tree farms like Elliott Tree Farm, and you would never guess that this is an agritourism business. To visitors of Elliott’s, it’s simply a chance to shop the gift barn, enjoy hot chocolate by the campfire, roam the scenic trails on the property, and make another year’s worth of Christmastime memories while you pick out your perfect tree.
Thunder Ridge Bison Company
664 Davis Dr., Uxbridge
This bison farm set against the scenic Oak Ridges Moraine in Uxbridge has an amazing story. The Arnold family began the Thunder Ridge Bison Co. in 2015 with the hopes of helping to conserve the bison population in North America, and to share their passion with the world. Today, their farm is a quintessential agritourism business, which welcomes visitors to the farm with their on-farm market, and regularly hosts workshops for participants wanting to learn about everything from making kombucha, to raising backyard chickens, to creating a successful vegetable garden.
Sheldon Creek Dairy
4300 Concession Rd. 5, Loretto
Come and see where the magic of milk happens. At Sheldon Creek, you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of a real, working dairy farm. Book an experience adventure to learn about sustainability, aspects of the farm, cow nutrition, and to follow the process from what a dairy cow eats to the quality of milk that goes into each Sheldon Creek Dairy product. This agritourism business leaves visitors with nothing but fun facts, humour and memories, and at the end of your visit, you can shop the on-farm store for goodies to take home with you.
2375 Bank Rd., Seagrave
For over a decade, this small, family-run hobby farm has been hand-crafting beautiful lavender products while teaching the public about the multifaceted beauty of lavender. Attend a workshop, a studio event, or a community-based activity for all things lavender. The words “agritourism business” don’t belong in a tranquil, serene, wholesome setting like this… even though that’s exactly what it is. All you need know is that you’re in for a wonderful experience at this amazing lavender farm.
Archibald’s Orchard and Estate Winery
6275 Liberty St. N., Bowmanville
What’s fall without a day spent in the apple orchard picking your own apples? This is one of our most popular examples of agritourism. If you haven’t tasted an apple picked fresh from the tree, then you are missing an incredible taste experience! Archibald’s is a whole-family experience, with a playground for the kids, an on-farm market store, and goodies for all. For those who enjoy a spirited bevvy, Archibald’s ferments an incredible variety of fruit wine that you simply have to try. You’ll be sure to bring home a bottle or two with your apple haul!
Niemi Family Farm
18463 Ontario 48, East Gwillimbury
A trip to Niemi’s for farm-fresh vegetables and home-baked treats (many from the Finnish homeland of farmer Marjo Niemi) is a day well spent. This wholesome agritourism business welcomes guests to take part in a number of popular activities like a private campfire experience, birthday celebrations, and the annual Niemi Christmas Market. Niemi Family Farm also operates a nursery with annual and perennial plants available, and two of the Niemi daughters have launched their own Assisted Equine Learning operation on the farm. Your day at Niemi’s not only supports a local, family-run agriculture business, but it nurtures your own well-being with fresh air, friendly service and memories well-made.
Pefferlaw Creek Farms
12300 Concession Rd. 6, Uxbridge
You know that maple syrup is in the air when that first thaw peeks through at the end of March each year. This sweet, indefinably delicious syrup is a Canadian tradition, as is tromping through the last of the winter’s snow to see the sap that is being collected from trees, and to experience the delights of the sugar shack. Pefferlaw Creek Farms’ Maple Syrup Festival is anticipated every season by eager visitors from miles around, who flock to this maple farm for some early spring delights and a day of crisp, fresh air. While this is technically an example of agritourism at its finest, all you need to know is that it’s a whole lot of fun with a side of maple syrup!
Parents, get your wee ones involved. Chat with your kids about agritourism, and see if they can name an example of an “agritourism business” that they’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. What kinds of fun on the farm do they remember? Connect with us on social media at @VisitYDH and share the places in York Durham Headwaters that they’ve come up with.
Story by Katherine Ryalen