With planes mostly grounded and borders shut, Ontarians have been given an incredible opportunity to explore their own backyards. Take a trip to Caldwell First Nation, near Leamington, to explore Indigenous food culture, or head north to Manitoulin Island and explore Chutes Provincial Park. So much of food tourism happens outdoors in nature, and with such a vast, diverse province like Ontario, the options are endless—take it from the staff at the Culinary Tourism Alliance.
“I think people are looking for ways to connect with nature, and there’s a new appreciation for local foodways. It’s a great way to discover the beauty and bounty of Ontario. This season, I want to explore Indigenous food culture. There are some exciting things happening in this space, including Three Fires, the world’s largest Indigenous restaurant and community hub that’s scheduled to open this year in Caldwell First Nation, located near Leamington.”
Research & engagement coordinator
“When it’s safe to visit, I would like to attend one of the many powwows hosted by First Nations communities in the province. The Chippewas of Rama First Nation’s Annual Pow Wow or the Grand River Champions of Champions Pow Wow are great places to not only try a variety of foods, but continue to learn about the first peoples whose land we currently live and work on. Many powwows are family-friendly and open to everyone. If you’re feeling uncertain about attending, many have a website where they share their protocols for how to engage.”
“What excites me most about food tourism in Ontario is that so many of the culinary tourism encounters in the province can be experienced in nature.
Food is our connection to the land. Agritourism experiences promote so much learning, a lot of which is hands-on. I know that orchard visits aren’t exactly the most unique food tourism experience, but there’s just something so special about picking apples off trees in the fall. I’m looking forward to visiting Chudleigh’s in Halton Hills.”
VP of destination development
“Over the past decade, food tourism has become less about travelling for food and more about making food and drink a meaningful part of experiencing a place. We don’t need to travel far to experience food or culture. When it’s safe to do so, I’d like to take a workshop focused on the manoomin (wild rice) being harvested from the Indigenous waters of Buckhorn, Pigeon and Chemong lakes.”
“Ontario is vast, culturally diverse and has always been an agricultural powerhouse. We have amazing soils, water, landscapes, people and technology. The benefit of agritourism is that most activities can be done outside, or in open spaces which allow for physical distancing. I’m a big fan of u-picks because it’s active, you get to be on a working farm, and the freshness is hard to beat! It offers good value for money, and you are buying directly from the farmer. I love Hugli’s Blueberry Ranch in Pembroke, Ont. It’s the largest blueberry farm in Eastern Ontario and in addition to the u-pick, there’s a country market and play park for the kids.”
Research & evaluation officer
“Like many other Ontarians, the lockdown pushed me toward becoming a bit of a camping aficionado. I’m excited to get outside again, explore our provincial parks, and try foods from the diverse regions we have in the province. I’m even planning to go camping at Chutes Provincial Park this summer to try some more products from the Near North and Manitoulin Island.
I also recommend taking a road trip to and around Prescott-Russell. It’s a cool area which offers a bilingual heritage and range of Franco-Ontarian food specialties. While there, visit Ferme l’artisan, an apple orchard and u-pick farm with a farm store; Vankleek Hill Vineyard and Vergers Villeneuve, where you can try some great wines from the area; and of course, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.”
Senior destination development officer
“Agritourism is an ideal way to understand where your food comes from, support local businesses, and meet the people behind your food. Plus, it usually takes place outside where it’s easier to physically distance and stay safe. Woodworker David Schonberger’s From Tree to Table Experience in Tillsonburg is food tourism gold. It’s the perfect bonding activity for a group of adult friends, relatives or coworkers.”
Explore The Great Taste of Ontario at ontarioculinary.com/great-taste
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