• This Niagara nut farmer has heart

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    It’s a sight that makes Linda Grimo smile every time she sees it.

    There, at the corner of Line 8 and Concession 7 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a sign that reads “Walnuts, Heartnuts, Fresh Eggs for Sale,” beckoning passersby to Dave White’s nearby farm.

    Grimo loves it not only because the trees on White’s sprawling acreage came from her family’s nut nursery on Lakeshore Road but because the man tending to them “sees the value of the crop.”

    White hasn’t spent his life farming to hone such instincts, however. In fact, he never likened himself a grower of anything despite having it in his blood. His family raised cattle and grew potatoes in Midland but he opted for a career in emergency response cleaning in Niagara.

    He has, however, always dreamed of living in the country. So three years ago, when a modern bungalow in a bucolic setting went on the market, he and his “city slicker” wife, Tracey, did something his friends told him was plain nutty.

    They bought their dream house with 180 heartnut and black walnut trees in the backyard. They added chickens on a lark. Sales of eggs and nuts at the farm gate have been brisk ever since.

    Read the rest of the story

    Labels , , , , , , , ,
    Category Food Finds, On the Farm

    FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest

  • Peach Tree
  • How to preserve herbs like you and basil are BFFs

    I originally wrote this post for Niagara Life magazine.

    Most herbs would agree — I am probably their worst enemy, alongside a lawn mower.

    Save for chives and lavender, I struggle to grow herbs in my garden. The heaps I get in my weekly vegetable baskets from a local farmer are really just flavourful races against time to use them up before they disintegrate into brown liquid in my fridge. Oh, the guilt that comes with wasting them. But how much dill, parsley and thyme can one human possibly eat in a sitting?

    The antidote to my careless ways was to get smart with my sage and be more thoughtful with my tarragon. I’ve started preserving herbs to use when the garden is another summer memory, and to spare having to dart out, last minute, to the grocery store to buy a clam shell of coriander from far-off places.

    Here are three simple ways to alleviate guilt, save time, and preserve that bounty of parsley, those mounds of mint and loads of lavender:

    Continue reading

    Labels , , , , , , , , , ,
    Category In the Garden, Recipes

    FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest

  • Peach Tree
  • Get the most from this year’s Niagara Wine Festival

    I originally wrote this story for The Hamilton Spectator. Thanks to the Niagara Wine Festival for the photos.

    It’s not a party unless someone brings wine.

    Niagara has both the tipple and the ensuing festivities covered this month. September is when the region turns into a giant crush pad and celebrates the grape growing season that was.

    This year marks the 65th edition of the Niagara Wine Festival, the oldest of its kind in Canada. It’s easily the region’s biggest bash where locals raise a glass — or several — to the area’s farming roots while oenophiles from Toronto, Timmins, Texas and beyond come to see what all the hype is about.

    “It’s the best time of year to experience Niagara hospitality on the wine route,” says Kimberly Hundertmark, the festival’s executive director. “The surprising offerings that the wineries have at this time of year are not to be missed.”

    Continue reading

    Labels , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest

  • Peach Tree
  • Watch: Migrant Dreams shows migrant labour nightmare

    Editor’s note: I was invited to screen Migrant Dreams by GAT PR. I was not paid for this post, nor did GAT PR have input into this post.

    It’s not often that I’m embarrassed to be Canadian. In fact, this might be the first time I’m saying it out loud and in such a public way.

    But it’s how I felt after watching the documentary Migrant Dreams, a film by Min Sook Lee, about the plight of migrant workers toiling in our greenhouses — packing cucumbers, harvesting tomatoes — as part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program. (The documentary premieres Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. on TVO). They come for the opportunity to do the low-skilled, low-paying work that Canadians apparently don’t want to do.

    I say apparently because in 2009, I reported on the systematic firing of local workers so that a nearby greenhouse could start importing help using the program.

    Continue reading

    Labels , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    Category On the Farm

    FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest