It’s more important than ever to support our local famers if we want to see more local fruits and vegetables in our grocery stores and food markets.
Barrie Hill Farms has provided our community with fresh fruits and vegetables since 1977, but the expense and imported competition has proven a challenge for the farm as they continue to offer more products in an attempt to keep the farm growing.
“In 2013, I purchased a neighbouring farm. Before, I didn’t have enough land to grow crops such as sweet corn, so it’s because of the extra land we added more crops. We started an apple orchard between 2015-2017. We used to close the farm after Labour Day. When we open in spring, there’s always something to pick straight through the summer until fall,” says Morris Gervais, Owner and Farmer of Barrie Hill Farms in Springwater.
It’s been a lot of work for the farm to establish their apple orchard, but they successfully harvested a small crop from 2017. Now they offer pick-your-own Ontario apples from the end of August through late October to early November.
“I’ve been planting a bit every year. It’s very expensive to establish a high-density orchard. The whole apple farming industry is changing, so purchasing trees is difficult. It was my first-time planting apples, and I had to learn how to handle apples. We’ve been doing blueberries and strawberries for years, so it’s a new venture for us as people find out about us growing apples. The trees are getting bigger each year,” explains Gervais.
You can also pick-your-own asparagus, peas, blueberries, strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, raspberries, and pumpkins at Barrie Hill Farms.
“People will always want to come out and pick fresh, but it might shrink because we won’t be able to sell wholesale because it is going to imported food,” says Gervais.
It’s tough for the farm to keep up with the demands of farming because of changing weather patterns, and the cost of labour. “I’m having to reduce the number of crops I grow. If you can’ be efficient at doing it, then you have to stop doing it,” worries Gervais.
The most important piece to the continued success of farms such as Barrie Hill Farms is supporting local farmers by buying directly from them, or by purchasing their products at local food markets.
“Know your farmer, and know where you’re getting your food. The sad reality is you’ll have to pay a little more. Most farmers I know are just trying to hang on. If the market shrinks, there may not be a future for my kids,” says Gervais.
Gervais says they’re continually working on ways to encourage people to visit the farm. “Every year we host the blueberry pancake festival. It started as a fundraiser for cancer care at RVH. Since that’s been built, it’s now in support of Hospice Simcoe. It’s our kickoff to blueberry season.”
Visit Barrie Hill Farms website for a list of this year’s events. Support our local farmers! www.barriehillfarms.com