Best Spots to Eat Local in Barrie

Best Places to Eat Local Food in Barrie

With our abundance of farmers markets in the Barrie area, eating local in the summer is an easy and delicious task. Once winter arrives it can get a little harder and your creativity will have to come out. There are still plenty of options however, and with a little planning ahead you can provide yourself with canned, jarred or pickled fresh local foods to feast upon once the snows come.

Winter Farmers Markets

Winter meals have traditionally been focused on roasted vegetables, slow cooked stews, colourful veggies and fruit thawed out of the freezer, or preserved items. But where to find these items if you haven’t had time in the summer months to squirrel away your own supply? In our area there are two main farmers markets that stay open year round and simple move their goods indoors: the Barrie Farmers Market, and the Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers Market. At either of these places you’re able to find plenty of options to fill your winter pantry, as well as crisp fresh foods that are grown indoors that will help keep you healthy during the darker months.

At the Barrie Farmers Market, located in the City Hall rotunda on Saturdays 8am-12pm, you’ll be able to browse from over 42 different vendors including local farms, chefs, bakers and specialized artisans. What better way to celebrate the holidays and supporting your community than by giving locally made foods and gifts. The Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers Market is located near the entrance of the Agricultural Society on Saturdays from 8am-1pm. They have over 37 different vendors that provide a variety of local goods including vegetables, maple syrup, preserved goods, baked items and specialty made products such as soaps and woodworking.

What Local Foods Can I Buy In the Winter?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are so many delicious local food options in the winter months, but taking a look at Foodland Ontario monthly availability guide will help you to plan before you head out to the farmers market. Many of these options come from indoor greenhouses, and by adding in these fresh items you’ll help to keep your immune system healthy and your taste buds from getting bored with stews and soups. Take a look through some of our recipes to find ways to incorporate local foods into your meals.

Even unexpected items like rhubarb are available fresh in Ontario from January to June. Called ‘forced winter rhubarb’, it used to be so common that at one point there were over 60 winter-rhubarb farmers in Ontario alone. Since the 1960’s the general public has forgotten about this tangy and crisp treat but it’s beginning to make a comeback. Grown indoors in darkened areas, the lack of sunlight means that it doesn’t develop it’s usual bitter taste, and stays red all the way through. A perfect mid-winter treat to bring out and amaze your family and friends.

Non-seasonal local foods like eggs, oils, honey, jams, maple syrup, fresh and cured meats, wine, cider and beers, cheeses, and fermented, canned or jarred foods are always available from Ontario farmers markets.

Farm-to-Table Restaurants

In the Simcoe and Barrie area there are several restaurants that serve dishes made using locally sourced ingredients. Why not spend your night out at an establishment that supports the community, the environment and your health.

Era67 is an Orillia based restaurant whose menu focuses on food that is in season and locally sourced whenever possible. They make all their dishes daily, do not use pre-packaged foods, and source their ingredients from local farmers markets and vendors.

Craving’s Fine Food & Market is a Barrie space that provides to-order foods and catering options. Their carefully curated menu uses local foods and in-season ingredients to create dishes that will satisfy everyone.

Ripe Juicery has two locations in Barrie, and one in Muskoka. They create cold pressed organic juices that strive to improve their customer’s health, and supports their local community by using local farm sourced ingredients.

Mad Craving’s is a modern bbq and bakery that creates mouth-watering foods from scratch using hormone and antibiotic free meats, and local produce from farms in the area.

The Globe Restaurant  is based out of Alliston and stays connected to its local farms and neighbours by using a farm-to-table menu inspired by seasonal food availability and sustainability.

Eat Local Year Round

Eating fresh and local year round doesn’t have to be impossible – even in our cold Canadian climate. From preserving your own local fruits and vegetables, to trips to the local farmers market, or a night out at a farm-to-table restaurant, you’ll be surprised at how easy eating local in the winter can be. We look forward to seeing you again at Barrie Hill Farms in the spring when our our farm market opens.

What is Farm Fresh Produce, and Why Does it Matter?

Farm Fresh Produce & Why it Matters

What comes to mind when you think of farm fresh produce? Does it bring to mind the simple pleasure of choosing a pint of local strawberries to take home, of deciding which pumpkin most clearly says ‘pick me!’ Or is it the knowledge that you’re choosing something deliciously good for your health, your hometown and your neighbours?

Local food is commonly defined as produce sold within 50 kilometers of where it was grown, but for some it also means food grown by people they know and can talk to at the farm market; food that supports small-scale values and a community-based focus.

The emphasis on what is in our foods, on where it is grown, how it is grown, and how that impacts the environment has become more mainstream in recent years. This is a change for the better, because our food has the power to improve our health and well-being as well as the our environment.

Health Benefits of Eating Farm Fresh Produce

It’s called farm fresh produce for a reason! Locally grown foods have a leg up on the competition when it comes to both nutritional value and taste. Once picked, fruits and vegetables begin to lose that nutritional value and so the longer they wait in storage the less rich in vitamin C, E, A and B they will become – so while that produce sits inside trucks and warehouses it’s losing that magic green power.

Local farms are able to allow produce to ripen much longer than imported, which adds to the nutrition value immediately. Also, how produce is handled after being picked also plays a part in its nutritional value; rough handling, mechanical harvesters or long transport can combine to reduce the quality, taste and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.

Environmental Positives of Local Farming

Of the pick-your-own farms in Ontario, Barrie Hill Farms is a leader in sustainable farming practices which help protect our environment. It is one of the first to have earned the designation of LFP Certified. This certification from The Land Food People Foundation signifies that we follow these guidelines in our focus to create sustainable agriculture for the future:

  1. To reduce or eliminate synthetic pesticides and fertilizers
  2. Avoid the use of hormones, antibiotics, and genetic engineering
  3. Conserve soil and water
  4. Ensure safe and fair working conditions
  5. Provide healthy and humane care for livestock
  6. Protect and enhance wildlife habitat and biodiversity
  7. Reduce on-farm energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

Water usage is a major environmental topic that many Canadian farms focus on. The use of drip irrigation allows us to deposit water directly to the plant’s root, thus minimizing the amount of water required. In addition, keeping the plants dry aboveground reduces leaf disease and fruit mold which helps us in our quest to reduce pesticides.

Choosing food grown from farms in Barrie also helps to reduce your carbon footprint in two main ways. The fewer kilometers your food has to travel from the field to your plate, the fewer transportation emissions are in our air! Local farming also helps to promote the preservation of our green spaces by encouraging youth to continue farming traditions, or even start their own local farming operation.

 

Local farming is just as important today as it was hundreds of years ago and though many of the reasons are different, many of them remain the same: our health, a connection to one another and our land. There’s no better feeling than biting into a strawberry pie made with fruit you picked from the soil yourself, or buying a pumpkin from someone who you know grew it locally.

There’s a lot of disconnection from our food sources in this day and age, and choosing farm fresh produce means making healthier choice for our bodies and the environment. Make Barrie Hill Farms a regular part of your meal planning for your own health and the health of our community.

 

 

The Peak of Apple Picking in Ontario is September When Honeycrisp Apples are Ready

Honeycrisp Apple Picking in Ontario Barrie Hill Farms

Mid-September marks the peak of apple picking season in Ontario, with the release of a fan-favourite: Honeycrisp apples.  They are typically ready mid to late September in Ontario. As the days get cooler, apple picking is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy a crisp fall day.

What Makes Honeycrisp Apples So Delicious?

The secret to the amazing burst of flavour you get when you bite into a Honeycrisp apple is the cell size. The cells are actually twice the size of regular apples, and when you bite in, the cells rupture and release delicious sweet and tart juice. It is this difference that results in the signature Honeycrisp crunch.

Honeycrisp apples were discovered in Minnesota in the 60’s and marketed as Honeycrisp in the 90’s and quickly became one of North America’s favourite varieties. They have a relatively long shelf life, and are excellent for baking and applesauce.

Characteristics of the Honeycrisp Apple:

  • Yellow background, pink blush colour, with creamy white flesh inside
  • The sweet, tart flavour is maintained during cooking, making the Honeycrisp apple good for baking and apple sauce
  • Honeycrisp apples require cooler climates and do well in Northern States and Canada
  • They are the official state fruit of Minnesota, where they were invented
  • The Honeycrisp apple is popular in Canada, and is a favourite along with Gala and Ambrosia

Going Apple Picking in Ontario Means Getting the Freshest Apples Possible

Your local grocery store carries apples in the produce section. But you never know when your apples were picked, or how they will taste once you get them home. In fact, many apples are picked and stored for months before ever reaching your plate. This can result in a disappointing lack of taste, texture and crunch. We are so lucky to be close to our apple orchards, and to be able to feast on apples that are picked fresh. We should take advantage!

Apple picking is a great family activity and the start of a wonderful early fall tradition. Try bringing home a bushel for homemade applesauce and apple pies. You can put leftovers in the freezer to enjoy all winter long. In fact, you can even get a head start on your Thanksgiving baking by picking your apples in mid-September, and getting your holiday baking done early.

Try this Delicious Way to Enjoy Fresh-Picked Ontario Apples

This recipe lends itself perfectly to the crunchy texture of the Honeycrisp apple, but works just fine with any apple variety.

Thinly slice your apples and dress them up (just like you would for a cracker) for a tasty fall appetizer or movie-night snack:

  • crumbled goat cheese, honey and fresh rosemary
  • old cheddar cheese
  • a drizzle of maple syrup and pecans
  • peanut butter and raisins
  • soft spreadable cheese and cranberries
  • greek yogurt and rainbow sprinkles

There are so many ways to enjoy apples from Ontario apple orchards and there’s nothing like apple picking on a cool, crisp fall day. Plan to make Barrie Hill Farms your family fall tradition and go apple picking together!

Barrie Hill Farms has these apple varieties:

  • Sunrise
  • Zestar
  • McIntosh
  • Gala
  • Honeycrisp

Check here for availability.

Enjoy Farm to Table Eating in Barrie, Ontario

bowl of asparagus tomato salad with olive oil on the side
The Low-Down on Farm-to-Table

The definition of Farm to Table or Farm to Fork is “a social movement that promotes eating local food that was acquired directly from the producer”. The movement can be applied anywhere that food is available – restaurants, cafeterias, markets and especially in the home kitchen. At its core, the farm to table movement is about ensuring that just-picked produce is being consumed as soon as possible to get the most nutritional value from the fruit and vegetables. Outside of having better tasting and more nutrient dense foods, farm to table also helps:

  • Boost the local economy
  • Support local farmers
  • Promote sustainable agriculture practices

The idea of eating only locally grown, sustainable produce in Barrie, Ontario, can be intimidating, but it is more affordable and more accessible than you think. We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to shop and eat local in and around Barrie all year long.

Shopping Farm-to-Table

Barrie Hill Farms is a great farm near Barrie for buying local, in-season, Ontario produce during the peak producing months of May through October. The farm market is open 7 days a week and not only carries crops from our working farm, but also meat, dairy and eggs from local producers.

When our farm market isn’t open, we recommend checking out some of these other ‘farm-to-table’ supporters in and around Barrie:

Barrie Farmers Market
The Barrie Farmers Market is open year-round on Saturdays from 8AM-12PM at Barrie City Hall. While local produce is available seasonally, the market features meat, dairy and eggs, baked goods, pantry products like honey, pickles and preserves as well as pre-made fine foods.

Nicholyn Farms
Nicholyn Farms is open year-round and is committed to providing their customers with products that not only contribute to a healthy lifestyle but are also environmentally sustainable. Outside of produce, Nicholyn Farms sells a wide variety of meat, dairy and eggs along with baked good and pantry staples.

Innisfil Farmers Market
The Innisfil Farmers Market is seasonal, but a great option for picking up Barrie Hill Farm’s produce in the South end of Barrie. Our farm fresh produce can be found alongside greenhouse and honey products from Lakeview Gardens.

Farm-to-Table Restaurants

One of the simplest ways to engage with the farm-to-table movement is to choose the restaurants you support carefully. There are some great options in and around Barrie that focus on creating food from seasonal, farm fresh ingredients.

The Farmhouse
The Farmhouse Restaurant serves rustic style comfort food made from scratch with farm fresh ingredients. Open year round, The Farmhouse has an amazing view of Kempenfelt Bay from both dining room and patio.

The North RestaurantChef and owner Marco Ormonde focuses his signature dishes and nightly specials on fresh, seasonal ingredients. This fine dining experience is perfect for a celebration or a romantic evening and will be a meal you can feel good about.

Michael and Marion’s
Focusing on the finest and freshest ingredients that Simcoe County has to offer, Michael and Marion’s is some of the best dining that Barrie has to offer. Throughout the year, don’t be surprised if some of the produce you enjoy here is from Barrie Hill Farms!