More than Just the Stratford Festival – Farms and the Ontario Table Are Amazing Gift Ideas!

All my life, I’ve been a city girl with a connection to farming. My parent’s best friends were dairy farmers and they also had crops — as a twelve-year-old girl, I remember helping to hay one summer (and it is harder than it looks!) and helping feed the cows and look after the other farm animals. I quickly learned that is more to our town than the Stratford Festival. Now one of my close friends is also part of a farming family and through her I am aware of the challenges faced by today’s farmers. Buying local from Ontario farms is one way to help the farmers who help to feed us every day. If you are bringing it to your Ontario table it only makes sense to buy it from an Ontario right, right?

And it never ceases to amaze me what brilliant things you can buy that are produced locally! Growing up, I was quite lucky because my parents did a lot of canning — to this day (bless them!) I still get to enjoy homemade red pepper jelly, assorted jams and pickles galore! The best part, to me, is that I know all of the produce is local — some of it my parents have grown in their own garden, while other fruits and vegetables have been purchased at the local Farmer’s Market.

Farmers Feed Cities logoSo, with only a few shopping days left to cross everyone off holiday gift-giving lists, Farmers Feed Cities challenges Canadians to think local when purchasing last minute gifts.

Lynn Ogryzlo, author of The Ontario Table local cookbook and a partner of Farmers Feed Cities, has created the Holiday Challenge:

The average Ontario shopper intends to spend almost $700 on holiday gifting this year. If just $70 or 10% of this was spent on edible gifts crafted from Ontario artisan producers, the economic impact would equate to $500 million extra dollars in our Ontario food system, supporting up to 10,000 food sector jobs! So make this holiday season a Made in Ontario holiday!

The Ontario Table CookbookTo meet this challenge, Ogryzlo has developed 3 steps and 5 tips.

3 Steps to Buying Local

1) Research – Visit for a listing of all on-farm markets in Ontario. Make a day out of it, bundle the kids up and let them experience life on the farm!

2) Read labels – Look for the Foodland Ontario logo when making your purchases, if buying wine look for VQA to guarantee products are from our province.

3) Practice patience – Stay committed, sometimes these options are hard to find but the majority of the food we eat has a locally sourced option.

And her Top Five Local Gift Ideas?

1) Canned goodies –Share the season’s harvest throughout the winter and give the gift of sweet and savoury preserves. Ontario has a variety of artisanal treats like habanero jelly, spicy pickled cauliflowers, candied garlic and more to match any hard to buy for taste buds!

visit stratford2) Agriculture experiences—Ontario farmers open the field gates and barn doors to those looking to understand more about the food on their plate. Give the gift of time and discovery together by wandering the Savour Stratford Bacon & Ale Trail with friends in Perth County (where tickets for the Bacon & Ale can be used at 5 stops on a self-guided tour of the area and each ticket entitles visitors to a “tasting” of a unique bacon and ale inspired treats) or plan to attend their Culinary Festival from September 20-22, 2013.

3) Wines divine –Niagara is home to world class wines from stunning vineyards offering both divine local gifts and group experiences. For the one on your gift buying list that loves to entertain, they can wow the crowd with icewine as dessert, or as a starter with pate.

4) Soy gourmet—Perfect for the chef on your list, give the gift of gourmet soybean, sunflower and canola oils and soy sauce while celebrating the 28,000 Ontario grain farmers.

5) Cheesy delights – Ontario has a fantastic selection of cheeses hand-crafted from local ingredients. If you have a cheese connoisseur on your list, this is the perfect gift for them!

So consider buying locally in this last week before Christmas — gifts from local farmers, artisans and tickets for local events make great personal gifts and you share by giving back to the community at the same time!

This entry was posted in 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, Family fun, Food, Organic Products and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to More than Just the Stratford Festival – Farms and the Ontario Table Are Amazing Gift Ideas!

  1. Janet W. says:

    These are all great tips! We love to buy local produce from our hardworking farmers.

  2. Soozle says:

    What great tips! I really like the idea of buying local goods – I did that myself this year for some unique gifts!

    The giving canned gifts is also a great idea – my folks did that for me last year with some of my favorite goodies from our local farmers market. It was so nice to have it in the winter months when I couldn’t purchase it myself!

    Thanks for the tips

  3. Anne Taylor says:

    Buying local is so important! Living where I do we are blessed with fresh produce year round and we take full advantage of it!

  4. Elva Roberts says:

    December 18- This is a wonderful idea and a win-win situation when you can buy local wines, pickles, Crafts, etc. in your neighbourhood or Province. We have many Craft sales before Christmas and ithey are ideal places to buy locally. We have a farmer’s market as well and their produce is fresh, attractive and really well priced for the consumer. Thank you for reminding us to help our farmer neighbours.-el03ro

  5. stephen k says:

    great tips, we have a farmer down the road, I will now consider visiting and checking out the products he sells – such as honey, eggs

  6. Lisa G says:

    I try to buy local whenever it is on display – I go to the market whenever I can and I do find myself picking some real great products – My family is satisfied and I haven’t told them where they come from but one day I will… it is very important to buy local.

  7. Sarah p says:

    Gifting local is definitely going to be a goal of ours next christmas season. I cant believe how many “made in China” products I have around my home, Im ashamed to admit.

  8. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    I like the step and tips offered above. It’s always nice when you can buy local farmer products, these are always fresh and in season everything tastes so much better 🙂

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