Over the last couple years I’ve visited many apple orchards in Eastern Ontario (and one in Western Quebec). Here is a summary of what’s available in our region:
Within the city of Ottawa:
Pinewood Orchards: An apple orchard on NCC land in the Greenbelt (Kanata). Very picturesque. Although the store is open daily, I believe apple picking takes place only on weekends. You can also purchase their apples at their stand along Carling Avenue, near March Road.
Apple Hill Fruit Farm: A small pick-your-own apple orchard in Barrhaven (Nepean). They also offer wagon rides on weekends. NOW CLOSED
Log Cabin Orchard: A 10 acre, pick-your-own orchard featuring 7 varieties of apples on a 33-acre farm in Osgoode. The store front is a 172 year old log cabin which is the original homestead on the property from 1840. I have not yet visited this orchard, but it looks great!
Harvest Moon Orchard: This orchard in Carp does not offer pick-your-own apples, but they have a very nice store and the apples are freshly picked. Note: They hold a special event called “Heritage Apple Days” each year in October.
If the mild winter weather is filling your head with thoughts of spring and the maple syrup season, you may want to get a head start by visiting Wheeler’s Maple Sugar Camp and Pancake House. Located in the beautiful Lanark Highlands (about 90 minutes from downtown Ottawa), Wheeler’s is a year-round destination providing outstanding recreational and educational facilities. With groomed trails, a maple museum, farm animals, and a beautiful log restaurant, visitors can easily spend a half-day enjoying the sugar camp, even off-season.
I’ve been to Wheeler’s twice: once in the fall of 2010, and again this February. Both visits were outside the maple syrup season, so I was able to enjoy all the activities without the crowds. Of course, I didn’t actually get to see the maple syrup being made, which is certainly part of the fun of going to a sugar camp, but there were more than enough other activities to keep me entertained.
One of Wheeler’s unique features is its extensive trail system running through the 730-acre sugar bush. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2010, I visited a number of Christmas tree farms in the Ottawa region, and wrote articles about each of them. This year, I hope to visit a few more. In the meantime, here is a list of places where you can cut your own Christmas tree.
Note: Click on the links to see my original article for each tree farm.
Ian’s Evergreen Plantation: This is one of the largest Christmas tree farms in the region. In addition to Christmas trees, they also have a herd of (real) reindeer, and they have some beautiful walking trails. Located in Ashton.
Cedar Hill Berry Farm: This Christmas tree farm is located on a very picturesque berry farm in Pakenham. They offer horse-drawn wagon and sleigh rides throughout the plantation; the best part is riding through a covered bridge over a small river. Be sure to buy some jam while you’re at the store – it’s the best in Ottawa (in my opinion)!
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People often ask me, “What is the favourite agritourism place that you’ve visited in Ottawa?” It’s a tough question to answer, because there are so many excellent places to visit, and I have so many favourites. But when it comes to picking the place where I felt the most sheer joy, that would have to be Victory Farm Alpacas. There is really nothing like entering a farm pasture and having a herd of alpacas come running up to greet you. The animals are graceful, curious, and most of all, adorable – it’s like being surrounded by giant teddy bears that have come to life. Have a look at this quick video to see what I’m talking about:
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If you’re looking for a Halloween-themed outing this weekend, you should definitely check out McMaze. Located just north of Cornwall, McMaze is a four-season agritourism destination that specializes in mazes and Halloween activities. In fact, it’s quite a bit like Saunders Farm, but on a smaller scale, with more of a true farm feeling to it.
I visited McMaze last October, on a beautiful sunny day during the week. I was there on my own, having just finished up a mushroom farm tour in Eastern Ottawa (see my Continental Mushroom article here). It must have seemed strange that I was there by myself, especially since I was the only visitor that afternoon, but I was made to feel very welcome. (By the way, like many of my agritourism visits, I wanted to experience the farm as a regular visitor, and didn’t reveal that I write for this blog.)
McMaze is located on a working farm, and has many activities to entertain both adults and children. As the name implies, they have several mazes on the property, the largest being their corn maze, which changes every year (this year’s theme is Canadian Symbols). The maze is very relaxing – it’s more about enjoying a walk through a corn maze than actually getting lost. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2010, the apple picking season ended earlier than usual. As a result, I didn’t get a chance to visit one of the orchards that I was most interested in: Pine Hill Orchards. So this year, they were the first on my list to visit (good thing, because I’ve had no opportunity to go apple picking since then, other than picking apples from a really old tree in the farmer’s field behind our property).
Pine Hill Orchards (or Vergers des Pins in French) is located east of Ottawa in Bourget, which is south of Rockland. The orchard is next to the LaRose Forest, a 26,000 acre publicly-owned forest with excellent recreational and nature-watching opportunities.
The orchard itself covers 50 acres, with 6000 trees and 20 varieties of apples. The Doran family has owned the orchard since 1995, and has planted cherry, pear, and plum trees, as well as grapes, to go along with the apple trees. As Paul Doran said to me, “It was a retirement project that went crazy.” Read the rest of this entry »
Just over a week ago, I attended a Locavore Tours outing to Alpenblick Farm in Ashton. We spent the day petting the very tame farm animals (including the beautiful goats in the picture to the left), learning about organic farming, and sampling organic milk, hamburgers, and swiss cheese. What a fun day!
To read my article about the tour, please visit to the Local Tourist Ottawa blog (click here). Then sign up for the next Locavore Tour to Alpenblick Farm, taking place on Saturday, September 17th. The cost is only $20, and that includes transportation from the Eagleson Park & Ride, and an organic lunch at the farm!
Here are some additional pictures: Read the rest of this entry »