Written by Danielle Marr, Program & Relations Coordinator, Northern Edge Algonquin
When you think about Northern Ontario, your mind doesn’t likely jump to farming. You probably envision rock faces lining the highways, an endless expanse of dense, deciduous forest and open bodies of freshwater lakes—but farms?
While the growing season is a little bit shorter than for our friends to the south, the Almaguin Highlands has an amazing, close-knit network of local producers that have turned misconceptions and myths about farming in Northern Ontario on their head.
It is this network that Northern Edge Algonquin, an unplugged retreat centre located about three hours north of Toronto, has been tapping into for at least a decade in order to produce the most unforgettable, drool-worthy meals for each and every guest. And, it is this relationship which made the Edge one of the first ever FeastOn certified businesses in the province.
“To nourish guests at the Edge requires nurturing mutually beneficial relationships with local producers,” said long-time Chef of the Edge, Gregor Waters. “These folk supply the underpinnings of what is possible to be cooked and served in more ways than one.” In addition to tangible ingredients like carrots, honey and mushrooms, he added, their presence in the region affords the Edge and members of the surrounding community a vital stake in realizing food security and sustainability.
As such, local producers support the Edge at the same time that they benefit from the financial investment made by the business. This symbiotic relationship — which usually manifests as a face-to-face exchange — fosters a deeper connection to our food origins.
“With every pick-up and pay-out, local producers share insights and observations regarding the trials and triumphs of growing food and farming in our region,” Waters continued. “Getting to know something about the actual folk who grow what we eat uncovers another dimension to food at the Edge.”
Over the last decade, a wide variety of producers – from farmer folk to fisherfolk – such as Santosha Farms, B. LePage Fishery, Springhill Farms, Thornloe Cheese, MyCO-op, Dehaan Family Farms or Board’s Honey Farm – have been introduced countless times to guests during mealtimes. While they were not physically sitting at dining tables or standing around the pizza oven, they were nonetheless present in the stories that accompanied their contributions to each meal.
Whether a group is enjoying a pizza cooked in the hearth of Rocky the Black Roman Oven, rutabaga fritters paired with a steaming bowl of tomato soup or a warm breakfast bowl topped with maple granola and fruit compote – each and every one comes with countless stories of the hardworking hands that went into growing each and every item on the table.
Telling stories about how food is grown — with all its seasonal drama and regional peculiarities — and prepared, enhances Northern Edge Algonquin’s guests experience by exposing the foundations upon which the food that nourishes them is built.
Learn more about mealtime at the Edge, and the all-inclusive lakeside experiences offered at Northern Edge Algonquin and come enjoy the bounty of Almaguin’s producers for yourself!