When people think of the City of Toronto, bricks, mortar and bright lights come to mind; however, the city is still green and growing. There are many local farms in the area that provide great produce to Toronto.
What started out as a bustling farm community in the 1830’s has turned into a vibrant, metropolitan city, yet you don’t have to look far to find the freshness of Toronto farms. Some of the richest soil in Canada can be found in the Toronto area.
Fresh fruit, vegetables and locally raised beef, pork and poultry are available right at the farm gate and at downtown markets. City restaurants also take advantage of the fact that they are so close to some of the best farms in the country.
It is true that the downtown area is now dominated by big corporations, but the outskirts of the city still offer residents and visitors with a great opportunity to enjoy fresh produce and meats.
Beretta Organic Farms is just to the west of the downtown core in the community of Etobicoke. The family run business offers beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, bison and authentic Canadian Maple Syrup.
To the east of the city you will find the popular Whittamore’s Farm, where fresh berries are the claim to fame. A short drive to the north of the city and Forsythe Family Farm can provide you with pasture raised beef.
Pingles Farm in Durham and Downey’s Farm in Dufferin have such good reputations that major newspapers have written about them. Below is a list of other nearby communities where a lot of local farms can be found:
- King Township
A lot of the food produced from the above areas ends up at farm fresh markets downtown. Places like the St. Lawrence Market, Kensington Market, as well as smaller markets throughout the city take pride in offering local fruit and vegetables, including organically grown items. The markets also sell home baked goods that are made from fresh, farm grown ingredients.
In a low-lying area, just 40 kilometres outside of Toronto sits 7,000 acres of the richest soil in Canada. This land is known as the Holland Marsh.
Dutch, European and Asian immigrants have worked the land here since the 1930’s, producing top quality vegetables and ornamental flowers.
The marsh is the envy of many other farming communities, and Toronto residents are thrilled to have such easy access to it. About 90 per-cent of all Asian vegetables consumed in Ontario are grown in the Holland Marsh.
Even closer to the city; in Maple, is Southbrook Farms. This farm offers a unique combination of fresh vegetables and wine. The owners of Southbrook grow grapes in the Niagara region of Ontario, but sell their wine at their Maple farm market.
Pick Your Own
Many Toronto area farmers encourage consumers to get outdoors and pick their own fruits and vegetables. In addition to getting some fresh air, picking your own is often cheaper than buying at the farm gate or at the local market.
Picking your own apples, strawberries or blueberries for example, can be a fun outing for the whole family. To decide where to go and what to pick visit www.pickyourown.org/canadaon.htm and then click on Greater Toronto Area.
Farming in Toronto isn’t all about food though; it’s about having fun. Take Riverdale Farm for example. It was established in 1894 as a small zoo, but in 1978 all the animals were transferred to what is now the Metro Toronto Zoo.
The Riverdale farm became an urban farm used to teach city children about food production and rural living. Today it continues to be a very popular outdoor attraction in the city. Visit Riverdale farm at www.friendsofriverdalefarm.com.
Outside of the city, in the small farming community of Schomberg you will find a similar place called Puck’s Farm. Here kids can enjoy a petting zoo that includes domestic and farm animals, hay rides, crafts, and they can even learn how to milk a cow on their own.
Southbrook also offers fun for the family. For details you can go to www.southbrookpumpkinpatch.com.
There is a lot of enthusiasm in Toronto for farm fresh food. While many big cities focus on stories about the number of family farms dwindling, Toronto residents embrace what agricultural gems still exist close to home.
There are even a number of agencies in the city that now encourage city dwellers to try growing their own fruits and vegetables. Young Urban Growers was developed to help people grow their own fresh food in an urban environment. Many Torontonians have enjoyed success with assistance from groups like this.
As you can see, it is easy for city and country to come together if you are in Toronto.