Archive for January, 2011
I recently came across a great web site hosting service specifically designed for farmers. It’s called Small Farm Central, and it was started by Simon Huntley, a farmer himself.
Small Farm Central provides four main services:
- Website hosting: They’ll register your domain name for you, host your website files on their servers, and take care of backups.
- Website editing tools: Their content management interface enables you to make changes to your own site – with no web development experience required.
- Graphic design: They provide beautiful farm-themed website templates that make it look like you hired your own web designer.
- E-commerce enablement: They provide the tools to enable online purchasing and order management through your website, saving you time and increasing your farm revenue.
Their pricing is excellent. Their most basic package is $20/month, with their premium package costing $50/month. The e-commerce package is an extra $10-$20 per month, depending on the service you select. All packages are 10% off if you pay up-front for a year. Read the rest of this entry »
Just south of Ottawa, eastern Ontario’s largest tree nursery welcomes nature lovers to explore its 1000 acres of plantations and forested Crown land. Since 1945, the Ferguson Forest Centre (FFC) has been providing tree seedlings for the reforestation of eastern and southern Ontario. Originally managed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the nursery property is now owned by the Municipality of North Grenville and leased by the non-profit Ferguson Forest Centre Corporation.
There are three parts to the FFC property: a seasonal nursery outlet, the seedling production and research areas, and over 800 acres of forested Crown land with numerous walking trails.
The nursery outlet is open in the spring and fall. Visitors are free to walk through the greenhouses and view the many types of trees, from conifers to hardwoods to shrubs. Some of the trees are quite large (10 ft. or higher), while others are tiny seedlings available for less than a dollar each. Read the rest of this entry »
Did you know that if you leave a package of mushrooms on the kitchen counter, the mushrooms will continue to grow? Or that portobello mushrooms are really just large, brown cremini mushrooms?
You can learn these and other mushroom facts at Continental Mushroom, a large mushroom growing farm on the eastern edge of the city of Ottawa. While not a tourist destination per se, Continental Mushrooms provides guided tours of the facility to interested groups and individuals.
Continental Mushroom is a great Canadian success story. The founder, Nicholas Pora, was a Romanian refugee from WWII who came to Canada in 1950. After working at mushroom farms in Ontario and Quebec, he founded Continental Mushrooms in 1972. Since that time, the business has grown to 250 employees, and now grows 200,000 pounds of mushrooms per week. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent Ottawa Citizen article reported that City Councillor Doug Thompson wants visitors to “come for Winterlude and stay for the farms.” With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of fun farm destinations that Ottawa visitors can enjoy in February (or any month really).
- A farm stay at Gillenderry Farms in Pakenham. If you’re from out of town, why not stay in a B&B on a 170 year old farm just outside Ottawa? Gillanderry Farms is a working dairy and cash crop farm in Ottawa’s west end. The B&B offers three guestrooms in a beautiful old stone home. In your free time, you can visit the livestock and tour the farm’s museum containing 30 antique farm tractors!
- The animal barns at Canada Agricultural Museum. The exhibition areas are closed until February 26, but the animal barns are open. Drop by and visit with the dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and chickens. Best of all, there’s no admission charge at this time of year (but donations are encouraged)! Read the rest of this entry »
A very special farm experience awaits those who make the trip out to Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary. Founded by Andy Parent, this Kemptville-area farm has taken in over 1500 unwanted and abused animals since 2002. Unlike most animal sanctuaries, the refuge takes in not only cats and dogs, but also horses, pigs, cows, goats, reindeer, and even bison. At any one time, there are usually about 150 animals on site, most of whom are available for adoption.
I met Andy Parent on a sunny fall day in September. He arrived from a back field on his ATV, followed by five dogs of varying sizes, including the boss of the pack, a little white maltese mix. Although I hadn’t called ahead, Andy was very welcoming and took the time to introduce me to the sanctuary and its history.
Andy Parent bought the 25.5 acre property as a hobby farm, a place to retreat from his busy life as a successful property manager in Ottawa. But it wasn’t long before he started taking in animals that had nowhere else to go, especially larger farm animals that didn’t fit into regular rescue protocols. Read the rest of this entry »
Many Ottawa visitors and residents will be familiar with the RCMP Musical Ride. Performed by thirty-two Royal Canadian Mounted Police riders and their horses, the Musical Ride is a military pageant consisting of cavalry drills choreographed to music. The spectacle has thrilled audiences for over one hundred years, and continues to be seen at forty to fifty locations a year between the months of May and October.
So what happens during the winter months when the Musical Ride is not touring? That’s when the riders and horses come back to their home base at the RCMP Rockcliffe Stables in Ottawa. From November to April, the stables are buzzing with activity as new riders and horses go through their training for the next year’s tour. This is by far the best time to visit the stables, which are open to the public year-round.
During the winter months, the RMCP Musical Ride Centre offers tours of the horse stables and training centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Read the rest of this entry »
Seeing as it New Year’s Day, I thought I’d write about the top 10 things I’ve learned since I started my agritourism project in the 2nd half of 2010. I’ve learned so much, but here is my shortlist:
1. Farmers work really hard (and for not much pay). Yeah, I know that one seems pretty obvious – we hear it all the time in the media. But I never really understood how true this is until I started visiting the various agricultural producers in our region, and realized just how much work it is to provide that meat or those vegetables or those nursery plants. And it is so difficult to make a living at producing those goods, unless you are a multi-million dollar business and/or you’re operating in a country with fewer regulations and environmental protections.
2. The more I learn about farming, the more I realize how little I know. Read the rest of this entry »