An Ontario Journey: From Farm to Fork
Six By Sixteen, Irma Rombauer, Agvocacy and More!
We’re here! The third page of our little, gigantic list of Resources for the Ontario farmer.
We covered a lot of ground in the first two pages… The core resources, research archives, books and other useful publications like the Farmer’s Almanac, community initiatives and even a few good blogs. If you skipped ahead, go back and check out pages [ONE] and [TWO].
Otherwise, all aboard!
Our Labour: From Farm to Fork
We’ve thought about it, and… uh…
Yeah, this is our favourite page on the whole website. Hands down.
Page 2 has some fantastic stuff- don’t get us wrong- but these upcoming resources are all about the things we produce: the fruits of our labour, so to speak…
You know: the food!
And the theme for this page- as the first two seem to have one- is “From Farm to Fork”.
From the seeds we plant, to the attitude with which we approach the kitchen, to the very food itself and how we prepare it… It’s why we do what we do, isn’t it?
Yes… Ok, farms are businesses.
But agriculture is, at its core, really about feeding our families and communities. As the playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once wrote: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”
And there are no words, in our humble opinion, truer than those!
Not only is our food the end product of farming, but it can serve as the foundation too. A genuine love for cooking and food can be so easily translated into a curiousity- and a deep respect over time- for the process by which it arrives at our cutting boards.
Why do you think the “farm to fork” (or farm to table) approach is so popular right now?
Simple food with fresh ingredients is not a new concept at all! But cuisine is coming, full circle, back to the basics of appreciating ingredients for what they are… And that genuine appreciation quite seamlessly- one could even say organically- works its way back to the producers.
And SHAZAM! Farming is popular again!
Thank goodness too… We were fairly sure that the robots- with great satchels full of TV dinners, non-dairy creamer and baby carrots- were posturing for a hostile takeover back near the turn of the millennium.
Be serious for a moment though (Sheesh!).
“I can’t stand people that do not take food seriously.” Oscar Wilde said that. Isn’t it strange that the food quotes so far haven’t come from cooks? We actually have one more (a serious one) and it’s from a cook, but we need to stagger them evenly for literary effect.
Where were we?
From Farm to Fork, to Family Ties
Oh yeah! Food in the farmhouse.
Food and drink has always been one of the only things that brings people together, and nowhere is this more evident than in the country. Many of our favourite moments here in rural Ontario happen around the kitchen table.
And we plan to keep it that way, for generations!
From Farm to Table: Cookbooks, Curiousity and Seeds We Sow
Perhaps not quite literally- and in the exact opposite order- but those are the three things you’ll find on this page…
Heirloom seeds, seed research and information; an introduction to cooking for kids and a look at our local food and produce; and a small selection of excellent cookbooks, with a focus on simplicity, freshness and the farm.
This order feels so right! We will symbolically carry you “from farm to fork”... from the dirt, to the knowledge and local interest, and finally to the preparation of the food.
So (after a ridiculous amount of ado) let’s get started!
Literally, Seeds: Of Diversity, Of Survival, Seed Vaults and a Book
There are two Canadian seed authorities worth knowing- Seeds of Diversity and USC Canada- and they work side by side in slightly different but complimentary capacities.
Seeds of Survival, an International USC Canada initiative, is devoted to feeding the world, essentially… Through collaborations with agrarian communities, researchers, indigenous peoples and policy makers, Seeds of Survival aims to promote crop biodiversity around the world while propogating the growth and maintenance of heirloom and endangered crop varieties.
USC Canada, which stands for the Unitarian Service Committee, was started by Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova to help victims of the Second World War. Its early undeniable success made it one of the first international development agencies in Canada.
Seeds of Survival can now be found in twelve countries around the world, including here in Canada as a program called the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.
[USC Canada link]
With leadership and funding from Gretchen Bauta and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation, USC Canada provides their Canadian Seed Security initiative in partnership with a very Canadian-centric seed organization:
Introducing: Seeds of Diversity Canada
And it has a truly a Canadian mission: to save, catalog and propogate our seeds.
Although USC Canada was started in Canada, is based in Ottawa, and has a Canadian program… it is very much an International agency dealing with world issues. The website is a wonderful resource for general seed saving and biodiversity information, and to learn about the different Seeds of Survival programs.
But if you’re looking for Canadian seeds, and all things related to them: that’s where Seeds of Diversity will save the day!
After searching out, studying and preserving Canadian heirloom and endangered varieties of crop seeds, Seeds of Diversity can then encourage farmers, commercial seed businesses and gardeners to grow, maintain, propogate and disseminate them.
The Seeds of Diversity website is an absolute treasure chest of valuable information and resources: from tips for proper seed saving and planting; to where to find heirloom seeds near you; to their own extensive Canadian Seed Library and Grow Out programs; to their Member Seed Exchanges; and their Great Canadian Garlic Project.
This might just be our favourite agricultural resource in the entire country!
When you start reading the material, you quickly realize how important seed saving and biodiversity really is for the future of our planet.
Do yourself a favour, and check out [the Seeds of Diversity website] now.
As if those two organizations won’t keep you busy enough, we have two more seed resources for you. But one is just a book that will fill in the gaps we’ve left, and the other is a fun approach to heirloom seeds and seed-saving.
It’s NOT Just a Book… But Rather An Excellent Seed Saving Companion and Teacher
It doesn’t need much of a description… Only so much as to say: this book will tell you absolutely everything you need to know about gardening from seed, the heirloom seeds themselves and the ins-and-outs of becoming a knowledgeable seed saver.
So if you’re diggin’ it… Check out [“Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners https://www.amazon.com/Seed-Growing-Techniques-Vegetable-Gardeners/dp/1882424581/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1516916314&sr=1-3&keywords=heirloom+seeds&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011%2Cp_72%3A1250221011].
Now for something kind of neat (and a little strange)...
The Two Best Survival Seed Vaults for the Zombie Apocalypse!
That’s right… It’s coming, and you heard it here first.
(We’re the first to say that, right?)
But don’t get caught with your plants down, people, and no seeds: you need to be prepared!
(Pause for a moment: to appreciate perhaps the greatest pun in history!)
Introducing the best survival seed vaults on the planet! Sealed, weatherproof, lockable cases filled with organic, non-GMO, open-pollinated heirloom seeds.
And what makes them the best survival seeds? They are all varieties which can be grown in more harsh conditions, such as dry land or cold climates! And the included cases do, of course, maximize the likelihood of getting the full shelf life of the seeds.
As much as we’re having fun with apocalyptic angle of it all, these seed vaults are real and very cool. The seed varieties are interesting, the cases are excellent for your own future seed saving efforts, and they are not too expensive. They even come with booklets with instructions for planting and storing your survival seeds.
In our opinion, they are worth it for home gardeners, survivalists, hobby farmers, post-zombie apocalypse settlements and anyone else interested in seed collecting. It would make a very thoughtful and unique gift too.
Here is a smaller survival vault, but still some of the best survival seeds we could find. And it’s conveniently called the Zombie Seed Vault! Check it out [RIGHT HERE Zombie Seed Vault
And here is the larger seed vault, which comes in a moisture-sealed .30 Calibre Ammo Box. It contains over 19,000 seeds: 105 different varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruits. It’s amazing… Learn more about it [BY CLICKING HERE Heritage Survival Seed Vault-
We make a simpler seed recommendation on our Kids Resources page. It’s not nearly as wicked-awesome as these survival seed vaults, but they are still fun and very high quality seeds. Check them out [RIGHT HERE https://www.amazon.com/Heirloom-Culinary-Vegetable-Seeds-pack/dp/B004QXUWAU/ref=pd_sbs_86_1?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004QXUWAU&pd_rd_r=NXBG12ZBABFSBT3R3SK0&pd_rd_w=5e2wq&pd_rd_wg=H77PL&psc=1&refRID=NXBG12ZBABFSBT3R3SK0].
If you’re going to be growing food from seed- be it from the best survival seeds we could find or from your own private collection- there is one resource that we need to show you.
The suggestions above will certainly help as well, but there is a personalized gardening calendar at The Farmer’s Almanac website that is one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen! Just enter your postal code, and this calendar will show you what to plant and when to plant it (all based on exactly where you live).
All gardeners and hobby farmers need to bookmark and use this gardening calendar.
Click the following link [RIGHT THIS INSTANT https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates]!
And that’s all she wrote about seeds.
Or… that’s all we wrote… about seeds.
Speaking of seeds though: let’s talk about planting some metaphorical ones!
Curiousity: From Farm to Fork For Kids, And Locals
You got your figurative seed planting gloves on?!
Good! Because we’re talking about curiousity… the original seed!
More specifically, this little section has two categories of resources: kids, and their relationship with food; and our own Ontario communities, and the relationships we form with the local food producers we have around us.
Our first resource checks both of these boxes on its own.
Six By Sixteen: Taking Kids From Farm to Fork
“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking. It's about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.”
See? We told you there was one more food quote!
That one comes from Guy Fieri, one of the more recent (and one of our favourite) North American Celebrity chefs. Big, passionate culinary personalities like Fieri really help to push food literacy into the spotlight.
And Six By Sixteen is an Ontario initiative that couldn’t possibly agree more!
Brought to us by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, it has one clear mission:
Six By Sixteen will help young people learn to plan and prepare six nutritious, locally sourced meals by the time they are sixteen years old.
And their website is an absolute joy to explore!
Colourful, dynamic, simple and yet such a robust and extensive resource. Food knowledge, food preparation instructions, recipes, and lots of links to Ontario farms, food advocates and agencies…
So don’t miss out on something special... Visit [the Six By Sixteen website] now.
And visit the [NEXT PAGE] of this resource section too, where it’s all about the kids. We’re wordy enough at the best of times, so we don’t need to go repeating everything that was grossly overstated in the first place. But that’s where you’ll find the cookbooks and kitchen tools (and a zillion other things) for young people.
This page here, however… This is for everyone.
And by “everyone”, we mean the fine people of rural Eastern Ontario (including the kids).
The Maberly Agricultural Society is in Lanark County, so there is some local bias in our resource selection… But the vast majority of our recommendations are Provincial in scope (if not National). So you’ll find something yummy (and fresh)!
Fresh Indeed: From an Ontario Farmer’s Hand
Because that’s the whole thing, right? This is the basic principle behind the farm to table movement in food… The farm, to the table.
There is a middle step in there, we realize, but there’s a handful of ways to go about taking that step. Farmers’ markets, pick-your-own patches and orchards, farm stores, or even directly from an Ontario farmer.
Let’s start at the farms, shall we?
The easiest way to get your food directly from a farmer is through a CSA arrangement. CSA means Community Shared Agriculture, and it is set up by farmers to sell their products in bulk quantities to people in the community.
It is an excellent way to get fresh food, and save you a few trips to the grocery store. Many farms participate in CSA groups, and there is a wide variety of food available.
The best place to find these community sharing Ontario farmers is at the [Ontario CSA Farm Directory], obviously. Don’t you love clear, simple titles? There is no mistaking what this website does… And it does a fine job.
Check out the Ontario map of all the listed CSA farms, and click them to learn more. If you are a participating Ontario farmer but are not listed, get it done on [THIS PAGE http://csafarms.ca/wp/index/just-for-farmers/]. Or if you would like to start doing the CSA thing, they have written a good primer on doing it properly. Give it a read [RIGHT HERE http://csafarms.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/So-you-want-to-become-a-CSA-farmer.pdf]
That’s not the only place you can find them though.
There are two more websites which, between the two of them, have an absolute avalanche of information about local farms and food. Check them both out to maximize your local knowledge.
Lanark Local Flavour is exactly that, a website dedicated to food in Lanark County! And it does its job and then some. Not only will it show you where to get food from Ontario farmers, but restaurants and stores and producers too. And recipes. There really is too much “local flavour” to list here, so you’ll have to click the link to [GO THERE NOW http://lanarklocalflavour.ca/].
The second website, called Just Food, is actually based in Ottawa. It reaches across the province, and has lots of good stuff here for all of us… But there is this one customizable map that you need to see (and bookmark immediately). We are talking THE MOTHER LOAD of local farms and food. We will say no more… [JUST GO THERE http://justfood.ca/buy-local-food-guide/]!
So now we know how to get to the farms on the map, so to speak… how to get fresh food directly from an Ontario farmer. But there are two other ways of doing it that we haven’t yet mentioned…
Pick-Your-Owns, Roadsides and Farmers’ Markets
These are the two most popular ways that Ontarians get fresh food from a farm. They pick it themselves, or they buy from the farmer at his or her market stand.
Now, that can be a table set up on the side of a busy road, or on the edge of a gas station parking lot. Or even just a pile of corn in the back of a pickup truck… But the most common is the public Farmers’ markets that are found in almost every community across Ontario.
There is one website we use to find all of them. Simple, no hassle… Head over to [Farmers’ Markets Ontario http://farmersmarketsontario.com/] now.
And picking berries and apples ourselves? Yes please!
We have been doing it for generations, and we don’t seem to be getting tired of it. So if you want to track down every pick-your-own patch and orchard in your area, visit the Ontario page of [Pick-Your-Own http://www.pickyourown.org/CNON.htm].
That’s enough running around though… All this local food sourcing is making us hungry. And, as 4H Canada wisely instructs, we should “Learn to do by doing.”
That can only mean one thing!
Cookbooks: Irma Rombauer, and a Few Descendants
Does that heading sound strange?
Perhaps you’re right. But it fits the bill quite nicely…
When we talk about cooking at all, the chef’s share of the credit should go to Irma Rombauer. Cookbooks, as we know them today, did not exist before The Joy of Cooking was published in 1936. So every modern suggestion we have is effectively a descendant of the classic Rombauer cookbook.
Irma Rombauer actually self-published the first printing of The Joy of Cooking in 1931, during the Great Depression. Recently widowed and out on a limb, she fortunately- though not at first- saw her book gain widespread popularity.
This happened after the second printing, published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1936, at which time Rombauer decided to rewrite it in a more narrative style- like a food novel- and include photos taken by her sister, Marion.
This is precisely what made the difference between relative obscurity and her gradual, albeit slow, staggering success. And we wouldn’t still be talking about it today if it wasn’t a phenomenal cookbook!
That’s why it’s on the list.
It doesn’t necessarily fit in the “farm to fork” category at all, but it was written at a time in which farm to fork was just the way we consumed our food. Processing and preservatives, fast food and all our other modern nonsense didn’t really exist yet.
Irma Rombauer lived to see this slow culinary dissolution, unfortunately, during her seemingly simultaneous rise to fame as the pioneer of the modern cookbook.
But we seem to be coming back around… Are you coming?
If you’ve made it this far down the page, then it’s safe to say you are going to read this book. Everyone interested in cooking should devour Irma Rombauer’s masterpiece, The Joy of Cooking, at least once.
So go get it! If you do the Amazon thing, Click [RIGHT HERE https://www.amazon.com/Joy-of-Cooking/dp/0743246268/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516819772&sr=1-1&keywords=joy+of+cooking] for a prime deal.
Or there is a really cool facsimile 1931 edition of The Joy of Cooking that’s worth a look. [CLICK HERE https://www.amazon.com/Joy-Cooking-1931-Facsimile-First/dp/0684833581/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1516864670&sr=8-4&keywords=joy+of+cooking] to check it out.
Then there is everything else.
And it’s not to slight anyone: there are, and have been, some fabulous food authors...
But there isn’t a culinary book on a shelf today which doesn’t pale in comparison to the iconic Rombauer cookbook.
We do have a few great suggestions that come pretty close.
All labels aside, every cookbook is different. We love reading all of them, but these are some of our absolute favourites. And they may just add that little something extra to make your trip from farm to fork more delicious!
The first two reading suggestions are a set, so to speak.
The Art of Simple Food is an endearing story about food: where it comes from, and how we feel about it. It is the perfect book to start with, if your goal is to love food and cooking.
And The Art of Simple Food Part 2 is filled with “Recipes, Flavor and Inspiration” based, of course, on the thoughtful of the first book.
So before all else... read [The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters https://www.amazon.com/Art-Simple-Food-Delicious-Revolution/dp/0307336794/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1516989288&sr=1-1&keywords=art+of+simple+food&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011]. Click the link to see it on Amazon.
And, to get a copy of The Art of Simple Food 2 at the same time, [CLICK THIS LINK https://www.amazon.com/Art-Simple-Food-II-Inspiration/dp/0307718271/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1516989288&sr=1-2&keywords=art+of+simple+food&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011].
Our next suggestion comes from a very familiar publisher: The Old Farmer’s Almanac!
Did you know they have a cookbook?
And it’s worth reading. Learn more by [CLICKING THIS LINK https://www.amazon.com/Old-Farmers-Almanac-Everyday-Cookbook/dp/1571984631/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516580546&sr=1-1&keywords=farmers+almanac+cook]... And you can also check out a few other Farmer’s Almanac products on our Resources page [HERE https://maberly-fair.ca/ontario-farmhouse-resources].
The last few reading recommendations are more self-explanatory, so we won’t go into any detail… But they would all be fantastic additions to your collection of farm to table cookbooks!
Both [The Farm- Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food https://www.amazon.com/Farm-Rustic-Recipes-Year-Incredible/dp/0547516916/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516819246&sr=1-2&keywords=the+farm] and [Dishing Up the Dirt: Simple Recipes for Cooking Through the Seasons https://www.amazon.com/Dishing-Up-Dirt-Recipes-Cooking/dp/0062492225/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516819561&sr=1-1&keywords=dishing+up+the+dirt] are excellent specimens of farm to table cookbooks.
And for a slightly scientific, but still accessible, look at the world of vegetables, one of our favourite cookbooks ever is [Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, by Deborah Madison https://www.amazon.com/Vegetable-Literacy-Gardening-Families-Deliciously/dp/1607741911/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516991451&sr=1-1&keywords=vegetable+literacy].
And that’s all, folks!
Or, to keep with the theme: that’s the fork.
And, although that is the end of our food’s journey, it is still just the beginning of our fight to keep local fresh food a top priority in our communities.
Agvocates, Agvocacy and the Webs We Weave
We lied: there is one more small category.
Not small in terms of its value though, by any stretch... These few resources are the figurative stones with which we can wage our war for Ontario farmers: the local food charters, provincial legislation and published best practices for municipalities.
Plus a few strong, proud voices that make victory a real possiblility.
So let’s start with them, actually.
The first one is actually how we found the charters and best practices, among many other things. Sustain Ontario is like an agricultural think tank, and a very robust electronic collection of information about food and farming in Ontario... Reports, articles, legislation, useful links and so much more.
They work hard to empower Ontario farmers.
Knowledge is key, so check out the Resource section at [SUSTAIN ONTARIO].
The second resource is called Agriculture More Than Ever, and they are fantastic! Based out of Saskatchewan, they are true Canadian farm advocates (or Ag-vocates, as they have cleverly coined).
They really do care about Canadian farms, and it shows in everything they do. They even remind us to celebrate our special days (like Canadian Agriculture Day, on Februrary 13th). There are lots of different fun things for those of us wanting to spread the Agvocate gospel, and some helpful webinars too.
Make sure you check out [Agriculture More Than Ever ] now, and become an Agvocate!
Read their [BLOG https://www.agriculturemorethanever.ca/ag-conversations/] too.
And the last “agvocate” is a local one called Food Core LGL. They developed and promote the Food Charter for Leeds, Grenville and Lanark County. Supporting farms, producers, food workers and local businesses, the Food Charter aims to make fresh food available to everyone.
Food Core LGL has a fresh and sustainable vision for our area, and it’s important that we support them in their “agvocacy” (the term grows on you). So make sure you read and endorse the LGL Food Charter, or any similar charter in your own Ontario neighbourhood.
Read and endorse the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark County Food Charter [HERE http://www.foodcorelgl.ca/_resources/food-charter.pdf].
And the Food Charter for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington is [HERE http://kflahealthycommunitiespartnership.com/KFLAFoodCharterBW-Nov8-2012.pdf].
The Ontario Healthy Schools Act is another tool in our agvocacy box.
As of 2008, The Healthy Schools Act mandates that all Ontario schools must follow a new policy designating the acceptable types of foods and beverages they can make available. You can probably guess many of the things that miss the cut…
And this is a huge step in the right direction (and a big opportunity for Ontario farmers), but it’s up to us- as the parents (and the kids), community members, educators and administrators) to hold our individual schools accountable.
So let’s get informed… Read the Healthy Schools Food and Beverage Policy Quick Reference Guide [RIGHT HERE http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/healthyschools/PPM150Quick_Reference_Guide_2010.pdf], or you can even see the original Healthy Schools Act legislation [HERE https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/s08002].
With that last category of resources, our job as agvocates gets a lot easier. We just need to stick to our guns, and we’ll all end up winners.
Okay… Now that’s the fork. We’re done.
From farm to fork, or maybe you prefer farm to table: cookbooks for more delicious food- prepared using new knowledge, skills and local interest- and grown in Ontario soil from high quality heirloom seeds…
AND the community spirit and direction to bring our local Ontario farmers to the front of the line!
Now that’s a beautiful thing.
There is so much more out there too… Don’t stop here.
You likely already have your own favourite cookbooks, and your usual grocery stores, your own tactics to get the kids involved with food.
But new ideas are always good, and anything that makes food literacy and appreciation easier is a winning proposition. That’s what this list, and the Maberly Agricultural Society, is here for.
To read our latest posts, go to [OUR BLOG PAGE https://maberly-fair.ca/blog].
Or if you have any thoughts or suggestions, [Contact Us https://maberly-fair/contact] anytime.