New Ontario “Asparagus Trail” launched

Asparagus in waterI await the coming of asparagus season the way many people anticipate Christmas.

Yes, I absolutely love the fresh, crisp flavour of newly harvested asparagus spears, but it’s about more than just their yummy goodness. Or the fact that they’re good for you and loaded with iron and vitamin K.

To me, it also signals the beginning of the local food season in Ontario and represents just the first of the many deliciously wonderful foods that await us in the months ahead.

And especially this year, the year of the forgotten spring, it means that long-awaited season has FINALLY arrived.

There are many others equally – and likely even more – passionate about asparagus than I am. Take Ontario’s Norfolk County, for example.

The region that hugs the north shore of Lake Erie and includes towns like Simcoe and Delhi, is Canada’s leading grower of asparagus.

Norfolk’s farmers grow more than 1,500 acres of asparagus, which represents 55 per cent of the Ontario asparagus crop and 39 per cent of all the asparagus grown in Canada.

And they’ve just launched Ontario’s first Asparagus Trail, helping you find your way from farm to farm through one of Canada’s most fertile food growing areas – and of course, encouraging you to also stop at local breweries, wineries, restaurants and shops along the way! Asparagus bundles

The route links 11 farms and markets where you can stop to buy asparagus, as well as other local food, wine and beverage products. All stops are marked at the sites with general green and yellow Norfolk signs. Click here to check out the map.

Clark Hoskin, Norfolk’s Manager of Tourism & Economic Development, says the county ran the trail as a pilot project last year, but has really kicked up promotions this year.

Interestingly, Norfolk County is also Canada’s number one grower of sweet corn, cucumbers, cabbage, strawberries, peppers, sour cherries, ginseng, blueberries and pumpkins, and Hoskin says the County has a Strawberry Trail and possibly a Sweet Corn Trail in the works for this year too.

You can learn more about the Asparagus Trail by clicking here. And for delicious Ontario asparagus recipes, as well as storage tips, nutrition info and more, check out Foodland Ontario or the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario websites.

first asparagus of the year - webIncidentally, I picked up my long-anticipated first bundle of Ontario asparagus, shown above, on Saturday morning at the Guelph Farmers’ Market and it came from Welsh Bros., a family farm in Norfolk that is one of the stops on the trail.

For fans of video, another stop on the trail is Spearit Farms, which is featured in this video about asparagus in Norfolk County.

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