Grand Valley, Ontario is home to one of our favourite success stories here in York Durham Headwaters. Landman Gardens and Bakery may describe itself as a small-scale sustainable farm… but they’re being modest. This family owned and operated farm is a booming rural business that has become a favourite destination for those seeking local produce and baked goods. The farm raises dairy goats, pigs, turkeys and chickens, sells organic produce and homemade preserves, and has an onsite bakery and butcher shop. It also features a Blackhouse—a traditional Scottish-style stone house built without mortar, in which the farm hosts delectable farm-to-table dinners.
At Landman Gardens and Bakery, you know you’re surrounded by history and heritage. This holiday season, owner Rebecca Landman and her staff welcome you to experience what tradition tastes like.
Rebecca, who is a farm girl born and raised, opened Landman Gardens and Bakery in 2011 after completing her Culinary Management diploma at Canadore College, and also her Sustainable Agriculture diploma at Fleming College. “When I went to culinary school, I had the idea that I wanted to work in a bakery somewhere or as a line cook,” she recalls. “I worked in a bunch of different places, but I realized they didn’t quite fit the kind of life I wanted. I wanted to be able to spend the holidays with my family and not have to work long weekends or late at night.”
This is why she made the decision to start her own business. “Now I work twice as hard,” she laughs. “But the nice thing about it is that we get to accommodate our family gatherings.” Recently, Rebecca and her husband welcomed their first child, a daughter, to their family. While she relies on her team of bakers and staff to help her out, she still finds herself in the kitchen all the time, and considers herself lucky to be able to balance work and home life in this sustainable and fulfilling way.
At Landman’s farm store, Rebecca and her team are always elbow-deep in handmade baked goods like pies, cookies, scones and squares. With busy families and wholesome meals in mind, the store also offers ready-made goods like chicken pies, lasagna and meatballs. In the past year, Landman Gardens and Bakery has introduced online sales and curbside pickup as well to meet the health and safety requirements for limiting the spread of COVID-19. For the holidays, you can expect to find roasted chickens, stuffing, gravy, and “all that wonderful stuff,” as Rebecca enthusiastically states. They will also have sweet trays available with Christmas cooking and other holiday treats.
Having been raised on a working farm, Rebecca readily admits that her Christmases were a little different than those of her extended family and friends. “We normally would have all of our family come to the farm because it was often hard to get away with having a dairy operation where we milked twice a day,” she says. “We would either have had to leave early to get home so Dad could milk the cows, or we would just stay home and Dad could slip out when he needed to.” Presents and celebration on Christmas morning would come only after chores had been done, and Rebecca remembers anxiously sitting and waiting with her five siblings for her dad to finish. “I swear he would take extra long those mornings as we sat at the window staring out at him,” she laughs.
But one of the best things she recalls about the holidays is that the house was always full of family from both sides, and large dinners were enjoyed by all. Rebecca herself would often help her mother get everything ready for Christmas. This is when she first began baking pies. “I’m not sure how to summarize that magic from making all this food and then having everyone sit down and enjoy it,” she says. “The noise and the laughter—it just wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have those big dinners.” Still to this day, eating pumpkin pie reminds Rebecca of sitting through all the ‘craziness’ with her siblings and cousins.
Today, pie is a huge holiday seller at Landman Gardens and Bakery—for both Christmas and Thanksgiving. “This week we already put out 225 pies,” she says. “I would say to the bakers as they were coming out: Think of all the families that are eating these pies. I mean, 225 families are sitting down and eating pie that we made! That’s something special to feel proud about.”
In a world where talk of a ‘new normal’ is prevalent, it is more important now than ever to think about what kind of world we want ours to be. Supporting local to ensure that family businesses like Landman Gardens and Bakery continue to thrive is essential. After all, you are not just buying a pie. You are supporting the bakery that made it, and the people and businesses that contributed to it. “A business like mine isn’t just supporting our own farm,” Rebecca says. “I also have a team of four to five bakers who we are supporting. We are supporting other farms as well, like the ones we buy our apples from. So, it’s a much bigger picture than just buying an apple pie. There is a lot of love and good energy that goes into it as well.”
Add tradition to your holiday season with a visit to Landman Gardens and Bakery at 322345 Concession 6-7, East Luther Grand Valley. For information and online ordering, visit www.landmangardens.ca, or call (519) 938-6163.
Story by Katherine Ryalen