RAWF is upon us once more—that’s the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Every November, the Royal descends on the city of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. If you have been following our Road to the Royal series, then you will know that York Durham Headwaters will be representing in the T-Dot from November 1st to 10th.
YDH at the Royal is an unprecedented opportunity for us, and we’re making the most of our time to shine on a national scale by partnering with some of the best growers and producers we have in our wonderful region. For our second blog post in our Road to the Royal series, we bring you… (drumroll, please)… York Region.
Agriculture in York Region
Vaughan Mills. Canada’s Wonderland. McMichael Canadian Art Collection. These are just a few of the well-recognized names that entice visitors to venture north of the big city on a grand scale. With such world-class shopping, entertainment and arts-and-culture attractions, it is sometimes easy to forget that York Region is a vast territory with a surprisingly diverse economic profile. York’s rich agricultural history continues to thrive thanks to communities, growers and producers who are passionate about local food and products.
York Farm Fresh is the not-for-profit association that is dedicated to promoting local farm-fresh food grown and produced throughout York Region. Fruits, berries, vegetables, meats, eggs, maple syrup, honey, wine and more, can be found throughout York Region, by hungry foodies, at farms, farmers’ markets and farm experiences. To help consumers find all this fresh food, YFF has launched its Passport to Fresh which is meant to encourage consumers to visit their local farms, know their farmers, and support their community’s economy.
YDH’s York Region Exhibitors
Joining us at the Royal this year are the following York Region producers and growers, who are ready to get fresh with the nation and show them just how agriculturally robust this up-and-coming region is.
A multi-generational company founded is the 1920s, Pioneer is committed to providing natural, locally produced farm products to the community, while encouraging and supporting environmentally sustainable food sources. Their range of products include honey, beeswax candles, maple and apitherapy products, as well as handmade honey soaps.
In York Region, our municipalities are behind their growers. The towns of Georgina and East Gwillimbury host events to promote local farm-to-fork sales. Take a self-guided tour through Georgina with your Field to Table brochure, or purchase your Farm to Fork wristband to tour participating East Gwillimbury farms. You will be sure to find the freshest places to pick up your harvest meats, produce and artisan goods. Celebrate over 200 years of agriculture by visiting some of these towns biggest and most diverse farms.
This York Region farm’s mission is to deepen the connection of young people and their families with the natural environment. ClearWater is a historical property on Lake Simcoe that was owned by a family of early settlers for nearly two hundred years. Today, ClearWater is dedicated to merging the arts, science and technology to encourage a sustainable future, and to giving kids meaningful outdoor experiences. This farm has a close working relationship with the Chippewas of Georgina Island, and inspires its employees, volunteers, customers and partners to grow, prepare and share fresh, nutritious food. It also showcases water-wise and nature-friendly practices and technologies.
This 25-acre farm in Sharon grows “a little bit of everything.” In fact, it might be easier to ask matriarch, Farmer Marjo Niemi, what she doesn’t have. Everything from organic fruits and vegetables, to livestock and poultry, to pumpkins and trees and flowers have been produced here. The Niemi family can be found at the East Gwillimbury Farmers’ Market and other locations with their goods, which include a wide selection of baked treats, many of which originate from the family’s Finnish homeland.
Find premium quality grass-fed lamb, beef and chicken at AE Natural Meats, which were raised without the use of steroids, hormones or antibiotics. Here, animals are reared in a stress-free environment, far away from the harsh practices of factory farming. In order to respect the earth, this farm has a sustainable environmental plan for grazing its animals so that the farm and land will be protected for future generations. Since 2010, Mike and Judie Zajac (the former of whom is a veterinarian and also one of the top authorities on equine breeding in Canada) have actively grown their livestock herd and has added a farm gate store.
An addition to York Region’s agricultural profile at the Royal this year is our Temperance and Temptation partner, Last Straw Distillery. This is a micro-distillery in Vaughan that produces unique and interesting spirits which are locally made. All recipes have been developed in-house, and all products are made by hand and with pride. At Last Straw, you will find such creations as Straight Ontario Rye Whiskey, Dark Side of the Moonshine made with 100% Ontario corn, and Blackstrap Rum handmade with blackstrap molasses.
Story by Katherine Ryalen