Saturday, July 9, 2011

Back to the Farm

I picked up a carton of eggs today, and I met the hen that laid them. It's a rare treat for us to see exactly where our food comes from.



These hens hail from Sweet Garden Farm in Vars, Ontario, just 30 kilometres from my home in urban Ottawa. Laurie McCannell raises chickens, ducks, sheep and lamb. She also has a vegetable patch on her 25 acre farm. Her livestock is completely free range. She uses no pesticide, no hormones.

On the day I visited the farm, Laurie and her two youngest children gave us the grand tour.


Laurie grew up on the farm next door. Her parents still maintain the apple orchard. Laurie and her husband moved away from the farm for university and eventually for work. But the farm beckoned.   Laurie et al returned to Vars three years ago. Now she is raising another generation of famers.
"I can't imagine living any other way. I know exactly where our food comes from. We're healthy and we're respecting the land," Laurie told me.

Her youngest of her three children, 10-year-old Peter, seems to be a natural farmer. He planted handfuls of seeds in May. On the day of my visit, he showed off his thriving pumpkin patch.


Laurie has exciting, delectable plans for her farm. Once Maple the jersey cow calves, Laurie plans to experiment with the rich milk for gourmet ice cream.


Her Berkshire pigs are prized by chefs and foodies. Laurie seems most proud of her lamb. One of her neighbours told me that the spring lamb from Sweet Garden Farm is beyond compare. I took home a three-pound leg that's now resting in my freezer. Once I find a worthy recipe, I'll let you know my results.

I spent about two hours on the farm, in awe of one family's devotion to the land. They feed the earth with their attention and care, nothing foreign or man-made. In return, they are fed by the harvest of their hard work. But they don't seem to consider it work. Farming is their calling.

I left Sweet Garden Farm with spring lamb, fresh eggs, maple syrup, honey and lettuce plucked straight from the earth. I supported a local grower. I saw exactly where my food originated. My daughter is eager to go back for another visit to the farm.

If you want to get in touch with Laurie McCannell, check out her website at
www.sweetgardenfarm.com.

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