Friday, 20 July 2007

A Visit to "Well Fed Food" and on to Ayr

Today I felt like a drive in the country. Actually, I felt like picking more berries, but since my esteemed spouse had to go and do a little work in the morning, that didn't work out. Instead, we decided to go and investigate a shop that we had seen listed on the 2007 Foodlink Guide to Local Food. This was the Well Fed Food store located on Oakridge Acres Farm, just outside of Ayr.

The Well Fed Food farm shop has good signage out front and along the wayThey have good signage from the main road, and we found them with no difficulty. We didn't come down from the 401, but looking at a map, it seems they would just be a short trip down from it.

You drive down quite a long lane way to find the shop. The shop is attached to the back of the farm house. We arrived a few minutes before they were officially open, but were greeted graciously and given a tour of the shop by Mark Gerber, who's farm it is.

Inside the Well Fed Food shopA tour is somewhat necessary, because unlike in a typical grocery store, the meats are stored in fairly anonymous white freezers. The bulk of the shop is devoted to various meats. The Gerbers farm Black Angus cattle, and they also sell meats produced by other farms in the area, including pork, chicken, fish, lamb, venison, elk, and buffalo. We put in an order for a Thanksgiving turkey. There is a small selection of honey and apple products, as well as fresh eggs.

Another picture of the interior of the Well Fed Food shopAnother view of the shop. Everything is well labelled. We were impressed by the prices, which are not that different than what you would expect to find in a major grocery chain; and sometimes better. All the meat here is frozen, but it is also hormone and pesticide free, and raised on grass and grains grown by the farmers - no outside feeds are used. (The only exceptions are the fish which are farmed and require antibiotics and are fed fish meal to keep them high in omega-3, and the eggs which come from a local sorting plant, so likely conform to the code but can't be guaranteed.) This is probably the best selection of locally produced meats I have seen in one spot.

Some of the farms' cattle resting in the shadeOn our way out we stopped to look at some of the cattle, who had withdrawn from their pasture to find a cool spot to spend the middle of the day.

Oats and barley for animal feed grow togetherAs we were leaving, I noticed this field of grain. It is a mixture of oats and barley, which I have been told is a practice rather unique to southern Ontario. Farmers in many places feed or finish their animals on oats and barley, but in general it is mixed after being grown in separate fields. Locally, though, farmers often grow the two in the same field, so they are harvested together already in the correct proportions.

A close-up of the oats and barleyA closer-up picture that allows you to see both the grains growing together.

Looking over the Ayr pondAfter our visit to the farm shop, we decided to head into Ayr and see about some lunch. Ayr has a very pretty centre complete with a large pond, although as a town it is very sprawling and surrounded by some mighty ugly and badly designed suburbs. We ate at what was recommended to us as the best restaurant in town. All I can say is that next time we will bring a picnic. The park next to the pond looks like the perfect spot.

Looking towards the main street of Ayr over the pondLooking back over the pond to the main street of Ayr.

Cream of the Crop fresh produce storeWe were pleased to find this little shop. "Cream of the Crop" sells a good selection of mostly local produce, augmented with a few imported fruits and vegetables.

A view of the interior of the shop. As you see, they also have some locally baked breads and pastries.

Cream of the Crop carries locally produced grocery products from Oak Manor Milling and the Ontario Natural Food Co-opAs well as a few grocery items. Here are grains from Oak Manor Farms and tinned tomatoes from the Ontario Natural Foods Co-op.

They also have a line of preserves with their own label.

1 comment:

Cara said...

The restaurants in Ayr (my home town) are hit and miss but you might enjoy checking out Paris (just down the road). I'm not sure if they have a farmer's market or not but the bakery on the main street is great.