From the ground to the dinner plate: Dufferin farm tour digs into the process of food production
October 3, 2023 | By Rebecca Weston
Along country roads in Melancthon, Mulmur and Grand Valley, arrows point to the direction of various farms that are part of the annual Dufferin Farm Tour.
Each year, the Dufferin Farm Tour committee asks farmers if they are open to having visitors come to their property for the day to learn about agriculture – some farmers will volunteer their property for the day as well.
Committee secretary Trevor Pugh said the committee always tries to get a diverse group of farms for people to visit, such as dairy farms, beef farms and mixed farming. This year’s event, held Sept. 30, featured farms included Peace Valley Ranch and Rawhide Adventures, Glenaura Farm, Lennox Farm, Downey Potato Farm and Brakke Farm.
“It’s all about education and learning about agriculture,” Pugh said. “Learning about what’s in our own backyard, so to speak, and where our food comes from is pretty important.”
The featured farms had something different to offer visitors – whether it’s showing the process of food production or educating about sustainable farming.
“We want to get awareness about farming in our area as it’s very important to support local farmers,” co-owner of Glenaura Farms, Andrea Pease, said. “We are trying our best here to do sustainable, ethical farming and we just want to share that with other people.”
Pease said they achieve this by having their goats and Kunekune pigs graze rather than keeping them in a barn. They also have private tours during which people can interact with the animals. This is the first year they are a part of the farm tour.
“It’s just really great that people are getting out and they’re interested in local farming,” Pease said.
Trevor Downey, owner of Downey Potato Farm, said they have been participating in the tour since the beginning and reiterated the importance of having people become connected to where their food comes from.
“I think (visitors) are overwhelmed a bit with how many potatoes are stored,” Downey said. “The process of getting a potato from the ground, into storage, into a bag and on your table.”
He said around 25 million potatoes are produced at the Downey Potato Farm in Melanchon and sent to major retailers like Loblaws, Metro and Sobeys.
Pugh said 2,000 to 3,000 people were expected to attend the tour throughout the day. People from all around Ontario came to participate in the Dufferin Farm Tour, and Pugh said it is a tradition for some families to attend.
Pamela Svec said she and her family drove from Etobicoke, and they have made the trip a yearly tradition. “The kids don’t really see farm stuff other than on TV or books, so it’s nice to see it for real,” Svec said.
The event is free to attend, and organizers simply ask people donate online or bring non-perishables for local food banks.
“It’s the one day a year that the farmers get to give back to the community, so we’re taking potatoes right out of the field putting them on trucks and stores, but we’re also raising money for the food banks,” tour committee member Jeanette McFarlane said. “It’s a win-win for everybody, for the farmers to give back, for the community to receive and we all come together to learn about where our food comes from.”
Rebecca Weston, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, ORANGEVILLE BANNER