The Royal Agricultural Fair at Toronto’s Exhibition Place is a time-honoured tradition that dates back to 1922. To this day, it remains an important exhibit for livestock breeders. With Queen Elizabeth II as its royal patron, we at York Durham Headwaters are proud to be in attendance this fall from November 1st to the 10th.
It’s the first year we’ve ever tackled such an ambitious project in order to showcase our region to the world. We’ve partnered with some of the best growers, producers and artisans we have, and we’ll be ready when the country is watching. In our last—but certainly not least—installment in our Road to the Royal blog series, we’re featuring Headwaters Region, whose deep agricultural roots in family and heritage farms are as vital to Canada’s food production industry as any of the big-name exhibitors that will be coming to Toronto from far and wide.
Agriculture in Headwaters Region
There is no question that Headwaters has a strong tradition of agriculture. With its rolling hills, wide-open spaces and rich soil as far as the eye can see, residents are proud of their region’s farming history, and actively seek to preserve it. In Headwaters, agriculture is not just a way of life for families who have lived and toiled here for generations, the industry is drawing fresh blood to the rural lifestyle, with new farmers coming from more urban backgrounds like economic development and engineering to take up the proverbial pitchfork (we are thinking in the spirit of modern entrepreneurship, by the way… not American Gothic).
The Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance is dedicated to connecting people to their local farmers and food producers. It is a collaborative of various community partners and volunteers that supports activities to enhance local food and farming. Headwaters is famous for its potatoes, and there is also a heavy presence of dairy farms and calf operators. Hay, corn, soy, and market produce are among the many wonderful home-grown goods you can find in this region.
YDH’s Headwaters Exhibitors
We are thrilled to be exhibiting alongside our following Headwaters partners at the Royal this year. With some of Ontario’s best soil combined with farms that differ greatly in size and food variety, you can find just about anything here. This is one of the things that we in YDH know and love about Headwaters, and we want the nation to know it, too.
This farm raises grass-fed beef and lamb, heritage pork, pastured poultry, and grows legumes and small grains in an antibiotic, hormone and GMO-free environment. At Bennington Hills, regenerative farming is practiced, which is a notion that goes far beyond sustainability. It is a commitment to renewing soil health, revitalizing the nutrient density of food, and restoring rural communities with reverence for the land. Farmers Jeff and Samantha Roney believe it is their life’s work to know and care for their farm and the community that surrounds it.
Family owned and operated, this scenic farm in Hillsburgh prides itself on providing quality, pasture-raised beef. At 4th Line, the land is managed naturally by cattle movement from one field to the next, allowing pasture to rest and restore itself. Farmers Matt and Tamaran Mousseau believe that food is best when fresh. This is why they follow a farm-to-fork model for their enterprise, encouraging their customers to embrace the forging of personal relationships with their farmers. Recently, 4th Line Cattle Co. has opened up an on-site farm store, to welcome their customers straight to the source.
This family-owned apiary has three locations throughout Southern Ontario, including Headwaters. Ontario Honey Creations is dedicated to providing seasonal terroir honey and artisan honey vinegars. All honey made here is raw and unpasteurized to preserve the naturally occurring enzymes and local pollens. If that isn’t enough of a reason to buzz on over, a portion of each sale goes to help support Toronto Bee Rescue, which provides free honeybee swarm removal services, and humane honeybee hive removals.
What started in 1953 with the purchase of a cow named Maggie has today become Sheldon Creek Dairy, where milk is crafted from the Den Haan family’s Holstein herd into wholesome milk products. These products, along with other tasty treats and locally-produced goods, are available at the farm’s on-site market. For those customers who live with the digestive difficulties that lactose can cause, Sheldon Creek Dairy produces pure A2 milk, which does not have the A1 version of beta-casein that inflames intolerance in humans. The dairy also has a voluntary milking system, which means cows can milk themselves when they feel like it. Want to see where the milk magic happens? The Den Haan family invites you to take a tour to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a real working dairy farm.
Located in the hills of Caledon East, Davis Family Farm grow on average 60 acres of Sunflowers for the purpose of bird seed, honey, and their new Sunflower Oil. The Davis Family has seen 4 generations born and raised on their farm. 28 years ago John Davis opened Davis Feed & Farm Supply. His son Sean later expanded the business with a garden centre in the spring, pumpkins in the fall, and Christmas Trees in the winter. Although the sunflower fields have also been there for many years, it wasn’t until they were featured on Global News that their secret was out and people have come from all over Ontario to take pictures of the spectacular blooms.
Story by Katherine Ryalen