Summer afternoons in the city can be passed fancifully enough in one of our many lovely parks, window shopping along Queen Street, or patio lounging, but a day trip to a farm bears a satisfaction that our urban pleasures just don’t have. No matter how much of a city slicker you might fancy yourself, do you ever really tire of the idea of a hayride and home-made fudge? Plan a day trip for you and a few friends, let loose and climb some trees, pet some goats, and maybe indulge in a photo shoot on an antique tractor. Here are a few close-by farms that will welcome you.
Whittamore’s is touted as “your farm in the city”, a 220 acre fruit and veggie farm beside the Rouge River Valley in East Markham. Pick your own with strawberries (a pound for 2$!), starting in about June, followed by raspberries in July. Whittamore’s won best pick your own farm in 2009, and serves thousands each year. It caters mostly to a family clientele. Their market has an extensive selection of syrups, preserves, creative bakery treats and fresh Ontario produce.
Location: 8100 Steeles Ave E, 6km east of Markham Road. When travelling along the 401, take exit 389 north past the Toronto Zoo and follow the blue and white signs to our farm. If travelling along the 407, take the Markham Rd (Hwy 48) exit and travel south to Steeles Avenue. Drive east on Steeles Ave 6 km to the farm. Hours: Weekdays 9 AM – 6 PM, Weekends 10 AM – 5 PM
Forsythe farm has a down-home, “Grandpa’s farm” feel. There are wide open fields, pick your own crops, working bee hives, weekend wagon rides and a story-book inspired enchanted forest for walking. Their market sells goods from local Ontario family businesses – organic wildflower honey, jams, and Kawartha Dairy ice cream.
Location: 10539 Kennedy Rd, Markham. Hours: Thurs – Sun 9 AM – 5 PM
Pingle’s farm has grown from selling produce on a picnic table into a full-fledged country store, bakery and greenhouse. In celebration of strawberry season, “strawberry festival weekends” will go down June 18 – 19 and 25 – 26, and will include wagon rides, strawberry shortcake, and general country style farmyard fun. The market sells bins of fresh produce from other area growers, and the bakery is famous for its homemade butter tarts.
Location: 1805 Taunton Road East, Hampton, Ontario. Take the 401 East, just east of Oshawa, Exit 425, Courtice Road. Follow blue tourism signs. Drive 9 km north, to the stop sign turn right on Taunton Road. Hours: Weekdays 9 AM – 6 PM, weekends 9 AM – 5 PM
Springridge farm is nestled about 30 minutes north of Burlington, and features hike-able paths which take you past ponds and fruit fields to a lookout of the beautiful Niagra Escarpment, wagon rides with farm commentary, and over 20 acres of strawberries. There’s a gift shop in a restored 19th century barn, and a full deli and bakery and cafe harvest dictated menu of handmade, 30 year tried and true recipes. Test out their home made special royal wedding marmalade – infused with champagne!
Location: 7256 Bell School Line, Milton, Ontario. Hours: Daily 9 AM – 5 PM
This farm is dedicated to picking your own fruits, veggies and flowers, with over acres of fruit and veggies and 165 kinds of flowers. Wagon rides take pickers to and from the picking fields. Their Mennonite constructed barn houses a farm market, that sells home-made ice cream using their own fresh berries. If you desire something a little stiffer, sample their berry infused dessert wines at their winery located on the farm.
Location: 9365 10th Sideroad, Milton / Halton Hills. Take Hwy 401 West to Trafalgar North (Exit 328). Drive north approximately 7km to Sideroad #10 (Ashgrove). Turn west to the farm (Appox. 7km). Hours: Daily 8 AM – 6 PM
This community favourite farm was founded at the start of the 19th century and still contains its original 100 acres in the Niagara Peninsula. This one’s just west of St. Catherine’s, but worth the trek if you can swing it. Their pick your own season starts with sweet cherries July, when the trees are said to get so loaded with cherries they hang to the ground. They offer tractor rides to the crops, and a ton of shady scenic picnic spots on the scenic grounds. Unlike a lot of farms, they are dog friendly.
Location: 4303 Cherry Avenue, Lincoln, Ontario. Take the QEW towards Niagara, Exit at #57/Victoria Avenue(regional road 24)/Vineland. Go right on South Service Road, then straight through lights. Go 2 km on South Service Road, turn left on Cherry Avenue. Follow the signs to Cherry Avenue Farms-4303 Cherry Avenue. Hours: Open daily in July 8 AM – 7 PM
This Yorkville region farm started in the mid 1800’s and is now maintained by a graphic designer and a full time farmer. Hence, their farm activities are themed with quirky characters and personalities. They do pick-your-own strawberries, with raspberries, currents and gooseberries on the way this summer. Jump on their train wagon and venture around the farm. Their market sells homemade pickles, vinaigrette’s, farm donuts and creative barnyard bumpkin merch.
Location: 122 Ashworth Road Mount Albert, Ontario. Travel north on Hwy 404 to Vivian/Mulock exit at Newmarket. Turn right on Vivian Road. Travel east to Hwy 48. Turn left on Hwy 48, right at Mount Albert Road (at the lights). Drive 2 km east to Durham 30 and Ashworth Road. Farm is straight ahead and to your left. Watch for the clear blue signs along the way. Hours: Weekends 9 AM – 5 PM
~ Kait Fowlie