(Yvonne’s Note: As part of our food series, Annette has written about her experience at Hamilton Farm Crawl, which provided an opportunity to learn more about farming processes as well as where our food comes from. I believe that understanding all of this is crucial to making informed dietary choices.)
I didn’t mean to end up on this farm crawl. In the past few years, I’ve been getting more and more into nature and gardening and all that jazz, but I’m still suburban and not dedicated enough to work on a farm for a summer (as I’ve had friends do) or not be concerned with not stepping on goose poo. I am interested enough, however, to be driven around to briefly explore several farms where I do nothing but look at things, be told facts that I will soon forget, and eat delicious food. I’d definitely recommend a farm crawl to anyone, particularly this specific one in Hamilton. Last year, I had gone to a party with my friends and the next morning found out that my friend and her boyfriend were doing this farm crawl. I’m not sure if they invited me genuinely or out of politeness, but I hopped in the car regardless and eyed the snacks they had prepped for the day. It was a little rainy and cold that day, and since I hadn’t planned on this mini adventure, I wasn’t prepared for the weather. My friend was returning clothes I lent to her for a Tight ‘n’ Bright party, and thus I spent the day touring six farms in a bright teal jacket and shiny gold tights. If you choose to go on a farm crawl, perhaps you should prepare better than I did.
This farm crawl has a handful of participating farms in Hamilton (Ontario), and the first one we went to was Waterfall Farm (for which there seems to be no website). It was the most farmy farm of them all, with a stand for potted herbs that you could buy, tours, lots of animals in cages (mostly birds, but lots of varieties), and countless varieties of vegetable patches that you could wander through. My friend had been working at a farm that summer and she excitedly pointed out which vegetables were what and how they grow. I remember none of these facts, but still, it was very fun to have a personal guide.
Next was Harrington Lane Farm, which was by far my favourite. This had very much to do with how much I ate there. I think that was where we tried to see the sheep shearing demonstration but due to the earlier rain, they weren’t going to do it? But there were sheep that Baaaa’d and roosters that cuckooed and pigs that oinked and ducks that quacked. This sounds like a poor excuse for a children’s book, but this stuff that you read about (farm animals) at an early age is pretty fun to see two decades later in real life. Obviously those weren’t my first exposures to sheep, chickens, pigs, and ducks, but gosh darn it if it isn’t fun to see them all together in the right environment.
We were walking to the back portion of the farm, where on the side, they had an apiary guy (I suppose from his own business) with a stand to teach us things. Plus we sampled some honey. I forget why we were walking to the back, but we found that they were cooking sausages, so it was a super win regardless. They had their own sausages (deliciousss) which had the usual condiments but other mixes as well, including their peach salsa (which I had to buy). And then they had homemade ice cream and homemade vanilla ice cream is one of my favourite things.
Oh, that was a good meal.
I wanted to order sausages from the store but it was just the beginning of our day, we didn’t have a cooler, and I don’t go to the rural part of Hamilton (or Hamilton itself) often, so I haven’t had those sausages since. But seriously. Delicious.
Following that, we went to Jerry’s Berries / Lotsa Hostas which was also great because once you got there, they gave you a half pint box to go pick raspberries in. Raspberries are my favourite berry and goddamn, goddamn, let me run loose in rows and rows of fresh berries and you’ll be losing money. The berries pop off the bushes so easily (if they’re ripe) and they’re so sweet and it is just lovely, lovely, lovely. I can’t form proper thoughts because I’m too preoccupied thinking about them.
I don’t care much for hostas since they’re Mom Garden plants, but the garden was nice to walk through and if you want a Mom Garden, you need hostas. Also, there was fresh raspberry jam and ice cream, so this place was delicious too.
The penultimate farm for our crawl was ManoRun Organic Farm, which also had a lot to see. It had some art display and a chef for no real good reason but he cooked stuff that looked great (I didn’t need to eat a second lunch, so I was good and abstained). It had a really nice herb garden and those were plants that I could actually identify. They demonstrated how to milk a cow and they let us try! It feels less gross but more intimate than I would like, but still, fun.
We also got a tour of the farm, explaining how they manage it. Mostly I remember looking at some gated chickens and then them telling us we could go see their pigs that roam around in the forest (but are gated off where people tend to go). Evidently, I am most distracted by food and animals and remember little of anything else.
Last on our crawl was Weir’s Lane Lavender and Apiary, and I’m glad it was last because it was the least exciting and I was tired. It wasn’t boring, but other than buying lavender products and looking at the fields (which are super cute and vibrant), there isn’t much you can do. And it’s not like you can interact with bees either? But we didn’t see much of the apiary. There was a little stand, however, where they let us make little satchels of dried lavender and it’s supposed to be good for you. A child and an old lady were at the stand and the cloths had nice patterns, so even though I’ve obviously lost my little satchel, it was a fun activity and it smelled good.
Even though I’ve outlined what every farm has and what there is to offer, these crawls aren’t about surprises and I think everyone should look into one in their area, if only to eat fresh food and look at animals. If there’s good weather, I’m sure it’s even more fun. I don’t think I need to go on about how we should support farmers and eat local and animals are cute but eating farm animals makes me feel less bad even though I don’t do it as often as I should, etc.
Seriously, those sausages were so good.