Sometimes it seems we’re surrounded by information on how to be better: eat healthier, be more active, buy local. If you’re like me, you may be inspired by what you’ve heard and read about responsible and healthy food practices, like shopping locally and supporting sustainable agriculture. It’s easy to buy food from nearby responsible places, but what about getting even closer to your food than that? Imagine such a connection to your food that you feel the sponginess of dough in your hands, smell the simplicity of coffee beans roasting, analyze a hop ; doesn’t that sounds like the best way to discover more about what goes on your plate?
My favourite spot for immersing myself in all things related to local agriculture is Abbey Gardens. Unlike other gardens and green spaces, where you can “look, but don’t touch” the various displays, I especially enjoy the fact that you can get up close and personal here, spending a day immersed in the sensory surroundings of Abbey Gardens while getting your hands dirty, expanding your mind, and even trying out a new skill. So, what exactly can you do? Meander through the many gardens, discover the benefits of sustainable agricultural practices, admire ponies and heritage chickens in their paddock, and enjoy local produce at the Food Hub. For me, that’s a perfect day.
Follow the smell of fresh bread, the aroma of fermenting hops, and the scent of roasting coffee. You can also get your hands dirty at three sprout-up businesses that feature ‘get-close-to-your-food experiences’, right on site:
1) Haliburton Highlands Brewing not only features a variety of delicious ales, porters, and stouts, but offers the opportunity to satisfy your inquiring mind during a brewing workshop where you can explore the malts and hops that make up your favourite beers. With their seasonal beer, “Mosquito Saison,” you’ll be transported right to the cottage by the lake, where the buzzing is distant but the cold beer is right in your hand.
2) Into the Blue bakery serves up breads, buns, and bagels – and sometimes pizza – sourcing its ingredients locally whenever possible. The bread-baking workshop is a must to get a serious feel for your food and discover how to create amazing no-knead sourdough bread.
3) The irresistible smell of roasting coffee at County Coffee can only be topped by the local flavours of its fresh brews. With a workshop designed to help you discover how coffee is grown, traded, roasted and brewed for the best taste, and a focus on employing the most sustainable and equitable practices, you’ll never look at your morning cup of coffee the same.
Storyteller: Alysha Dominico. Hometown: Bancroft, ON
As a citizen of both Australia and Canada, Alysha is an extensive traveller of both countries and their surrounds. She lives and works on a lake in Ontario’s Highlands and spends her non-working hours romping around experiencing family-friendly activities with her kids.