Telling the story of food and farming

in-the-fieldThe Holland Marsh area north of Toronto was the setting for a farm tour with Toronto area food writers in early June.

A group of about 30 food media and home economists – involved in everything from writing articles to recipe testing to authoring cook books – spent the day experiencing Ontario food and farms.

field-lettuceThe food media tours are part of AGCare’s ongoing efforts to promote understanding and awareness of how food is produced amongst Ontario food writers and media.

One of this year’s tour stops was  Riga Farms in the Holland Marsh, a fourth generation farming family that supplies the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with more than 30 different vegetables and herbs.

riga-brothers-smallDominic, John and Peter Riga provided an overview and tour of their business and fielded some tough – but genuinely interested – questions from the visitors about pesticide use, supporting local markets, organics, urban encroachment and the concept of local food production.

The Rigas grow kohlrabi, dandelion, beets, green and red Swiss chard, different varieties and lettuces and a large variety of potted herbs on over 100 acres in the Marsh and all of their harvest is done by hand.

basilThe Holland Marsh is a unique pocket of fertile peat moss that is home to muck farming.

About 135 farmers grow close to 50 different crops in the region, which encompasses about 7,000 acres and is only 40 km north of downtown Toronto.

Growers in the area have banded together as the Holland Marsh Growers Association to market their product into the GTA. You can follow them on Twitter @hollandmarsh.

A second food media tour – tomorrow in fact! – will focus on the Ottawa area.

Later on in the year, AGCare will join with the Ontario Farm Animal Council to offer farm tours for culinary students at four Ontario colleges as well.

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