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How to Spruce Up Your Christmas by Shopping Local

Originally published in Hastings.ca  |  Story by Ardith Racey

When you support local businesses and artisans, you are gifting the community.

“For the times they are a’ changin’” pretty much sums up the holidays this year. Although the Christmas holidays may look and feel different, given COVID -19 protocols, there’s no reason we can’t celebrate the season while also supporting local businesses.

Hastings County has much to give, and that’s what the holidays are truly about. When you support our businesses and artisans, you are gifting to the community.

Be part of this year’s holiday giving by shopping locally.

Let’s get started. First, the tree.

The tree is the central piece of Christmas home décor and nothing says Christmas like a real tree. You can order conifers from several local tree farms. Burnside’s Christmas Tree Farm in Madoc has been selling Christmas trees since 1954.  The have two tree plantations and grow Scotch Pine, White Pine, Balsam, and Spruce. They will be open from late November until Christmas, and you can pre-order the size you want, as well. Call the Madoc Dairy (613.473.2963) to place an order.

Switzer’s Farm is a multi-generational family farm that grows fresh fruit and vegetables in the summer months and beautiful pre-cut trees come November. The farm is located in Bancroft on Clear Lake Road, where you can call ahead to arrange to pick-up a pre-cut Christmas tree, or visit their stand at the North Town Plaza on Cannifton Road in Belleville starting Friday, November 27.

Denmar Farms, located near Stirling, is a family-owned and operated business that was established by Janet and Paul Martin to “deliver unique and memorable Christmas experiences”. They will open at the end of November and they also sell tree accessories.

Photo Credit: Denmar Farms (via Facebook)

Check your list, check it twice

If you missed the chance to attend one of the local holiday markets, not to worry. There are SO many local businesses and artisans throughout the county that offer an array of original and local gifts and crafts. Also, most stores have an on-line presence, whether a dedicated web site or Facebook page, so shopping from home is an excellent option given COVID-19 protocols and the cold weather.

Just click the links and you’re shopping already.

The  Madawaska Art Shop in ‘downtown’ Maynooth is a gallery of rooms brimming with art, gifts, sculptures, jewelry, pottery and more.

The Old Tin Shed in Bancroft is a family owned business that represents over 200 artists, as well as making beautiful pieces from salvaged materials. Owners, Kathryn & Geoffry Webber are “always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind pieces to thrill their customers.

You can also find in Bancroft West Wind Gallery & Gifts, a store that has been a “cottage country tradition since the eighties”. They offer a wide selection of casual clothing, accessories, jewelry, artwork, home décor and gourmet foods that are fun and functional. And Unique Finds is precisely that – a hidden gem that offers unique clothing and one-of-a-kind gifts.

Venture to Ormsby and start a new tradition this year with handmade Christmas cards. Lillian Oakley Pattison, co-owner of The Old Hastings Mercantile & Gallery makes cards based on her paintings. This is such a great way to stay connected with family and friends. The store has all sorts of gift items and art works, too.

In Madoc, a visit to  Mackenzie Mills Emporium, and Fish & Co., both located on the main drag of the village, is never disappointing. Mackenzie Mills is chock full of tartans and collectibles. Kelly’s Flowers is also located at the back of Mackenzie Mills – think Christmas arrangements for your home or as gifts. My Country Butterfly located near Crookston, offers an incredible range of masks (yes, they have holiday-themed ones), as well as exclusive and seasonal décor and gifts.

Photo Credit: Jillian’s Antiques & Things (via Facebook)

Marmorahas lots of great places to complete your holiday shopping. At Off The Porch you will be “transported to a Christmas Wonderland” of all things Christmas.  Possibilities Inc. is exactly that. So many possible gifts. And Jillian’s Antiques & Things is also packed with gifts. And a stop at Boutique Inspiration should not be missed; they have tree décor, ladies wear, jewelry, handbags, and more.

In Stirling, you can find a plethora of shops with unusual holiday gifts. Cranberry Hollow offers an eclectic mix of “old and new décor”. They feature handmade furniture, antiques and holiday wood crafts. The Vintage Junction in Stirling (beside the covered bridge) has lots of interesting items.  Stirling General Mercantile has all kinds of “fun stuff for Christmas stockings, including retro candies and ‘real’ licorice. And The Apple Store, located north of the village is about much more than apples – they have amazing gift items.

Tweed has lots of great shopping spots, too. Quinn’s of Tweed sells artworks, as well as many original gift items, and the newly opened Black Moon Curios offer unique vintage stuff. Tweed Florist & Gift Shop have a new selection of amaryliss, Christmas cactus and Bonsai trees. The Old Cheese Factory has lots of interesting signs and cottage items. The North Fence is an on-line store that makes hand-turned wood pens from locally sourced hardwoods.

In Actinolite, check out The Unconventional Moose on Highway 7 between Madoc and Actinolite. The Moose has everything from shoes and slippers, to toys, clothing and metalworks.

Photo Credit: Quinn’s of Tweed Art Gallery (via Facebook)

The bird. Or this year, maybe not the bird.

If a traditional turkey dinner is part of the plan, several farms raise and sell fresh turkeys, but you’ll need to pre-order. Harvest Hastings lists profiles of farms that raise and sell turkeys and poultry. For example, you can phone or email to order turkeys or chickens and arrange payment and pick-up at Firefly Farm, near Stirling.

Alternatively, you can pre-order an Ontario bird from a local meat shop or abattoir. Palmateer’s Meats, near Tweed, and The County Butcher Shop in Foxboro, take orders for fresh turkeys.

Or maybe it’s time to start new traditions. The Country Butcher Shop in Foxboro has all sorts of meat products to up your table ante. Other local meat shops include Hastings Meat Market, Stirling, Red Steer Butcher in L’Amable, York River Meats & Whole Foods in Bancroft, and One-Stop Butcher Shop in Madoc.

Enright Cattle Co. near Tweed sells beef products. Alternatives to traditional meats are water buffalo from Ontario Water Buffalo Co. in Stirling or a goose from Plainfield Heritage Farm or ecologically raised heritage pork, grass-fed beef & rabbit from Haanover View Farms.

Lastly, the holidays are synonymous with good cheer

There are lots of locally produced ‘spirited’ beverage choices in Hastings County, and Potter Settlement Artisan Winery, located north of Tweed, is a definite must for wine enthusiasts. Local craft breweries also reflect the diversity of the area. Bancroft Brewing Co. and 7/62 Craft Brewers located in Madoc, offer excellent brews to augment festivities. King’s Mill Cider in Stirling will deliver to your door – and you can order on-line. *(Please drink responsibly this holiday season).

Given that the “times they are a’ changin’”, changing up your shopping habits to give back to local communities just seems the charitable thing to do this Christmas.