I took a day away from work today to try to cross a few things off my endless (and growing) to-do list in my “civilian” life. One of the more urgent things on that list was to order a turkey for not-far-away Canadian Thanksgiving, when the extended Sedgwick family (and friends) gather at the family homestead in Haliburton County for the annual feast.
This year, for the first time since I was growing up at the Manse back in the 1960s and ’70s, I’ll be heading to the family gathering from Queensborough, where Raymond and I will be based through the long weekend. So I decided I’d try to order a fresh turkey from one of the farms in the area that sell that products directly to the public.
Long story short, we have a nice 30-pound turkey on hold for us from the farm of Tim Hunt just south of Tweed. But long story long(er): I had a most pleasant couple of hours conversing by phone and email with farmers in central and southern Hastings County as I carried out my search. I found out: one, I should have ordered a turkey months ago – these are small farms with limited production, and their coveted products go quickly; and two, there’s a great community of people committed to raising healthy, frequently organic, food in Hastings County.
It was thanks to the Harvest Hastings website that I was able to find those farmers. Here’s what Harvest Hastings has to say (in part) about its ethos:
“Hastings County … with its forests, farmland, lakes, rivers and small and large communities, is well situated to lead in the field of alternative energy development, conservation of natural resources, sustainable forestry and agriculture, and artisan food production. Harvest Hastings is about living lightly on the land and buying what you can locally.”
In the course of my search I discovered lots of farms in our area and learned about what they produce. The farmers I’ve actually spoken to (via phone or email):
Kara Enright of the Enright Cattle Company near Tweed, whose beef can be found at some very nice restaurants in Kingston and Toronto but that can also be bought “at the farm gate,” as they say – or ordered online and shipped. “All animals on the farm,” the Enrights’ excellent website notes, “are raised on a natural, all-vegetable diet without the use of artificial hormones.”
Linda Squibb of Misty Ayr Farm in the Stirling area, where they raise “Berkshire pigs, Katahdin sheep, Bronze turkeys, meat chickens and Peking ducks in a natural environment.” Linda tells me the Bronze turkeys have a darker meat than traditional white turkeys. I am anxious to try one, but of course was too late for this Thanksgiving.
Sally and Michael Knight of Strattons Farm, also in the Stirling area, a delightful young couple of British origin (if I judged their accents correctly) who have heritage pork, poultry, dairy goats, honey, eggs and vegetables – and an excellent blog full of information about their operation here. And something that I find very cool is that their farm is “powered by a team of Suffolk Punch draft horses.”
And of course Tim and his mum Dorothy Hunt of Countryman Road outside Tweed, the providers of our Thanksgiving turkey, raised in the heart of Hastings: a place where good local food is grown, raised – and appreciated.