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The Farmer’s Pantry…a must visit (Posted On: Wednesday, August 20, 2008)

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With school around the corner, you may be running out of things to do with the kids or are longing for a reason to yank them away from text messaging and get back to some natural, wholesome fun, a dose of sunshine and some fresh country air.  Pile everyone into the car and take a drive out to The Farmer’s Pantry in Clarksburg.  A short drive from Collingwood or Thornbury, this is one Farmer’s Market that is full of surprise and delight experiences.  Don’t forget your camera and enjoy some time on a real working farm.  You can feel proud that you are supporting a local business that offers so much in return.

The Farmer’s Pantry is owned and operated by the Sheridan Family and began in the fall of 1999 on Highway 26 as a small roadside apple stand with humble beginnings.  Today, The Farmer’s Pantry is located on the family’s home farm and is a business that includes the help and support of the entire Sheridan clan. 

Offering a huge range of fresh fruits and veggies is just part of the mix.  The Petting Farm and an Interpretive Centre poise this destination as an educational experience as well as a great place to get fresh produce, preserves, participate in pick your own and find other great food products and gifts from local sources.  Educate yourself and your kids about the 100-mile diet benefits and while you’re at it pick your own bouquet of sunflowers.

The experience is truly fun for the whole family, and if your tweenager thinks this is boring…take away their iPod, the cell phone and access to the internet because your tweenie needs a dose of reality.  Better yet…just load them into the car and don’t tell them where you’re headed.  It would be interesting to see if their range of focus can extend beyond a keypad.  It’s hard to text message and pick your own apples at the same time…but could be fun to watch.  The girly girls in your life will love the bunnies and the friendly nature of the other animals is infectious.

In season, you can pick your own basket of apples from the trees, or get a wide variety of pre-picked fresh apples from the stand.  Now among a bigger selection of apples than ever they’ve expanded to include a host of veggies, fresh produce, locally raised meat, yummy pies, home-made preserves, pottery and original giftware; not to mention the newest additions to the animal friends!

They offer many different varieties of freshly picked Canadian apples that come right off the farm.  Remember…if you’re baking a pie…use Spy.  Here is a list of apples, their characteristics and best uses:
 
Early Apples - First Available: Mid August

Jersey Mac - The Jersey Mac is similar to the Mac, and very sweet.

Paulared - The Paulared is a great early eating apple, being both sweet and crisp.

Early Gold - Ready at the end of August, the early gold is very sweet, but its season is quite short and they start to go soft within a couple of weeks. They’re great to munch on before the apple season really gets going.
 
Regular Season - First Available: September

McIntosh - Macs are probably the most popular apples in Ontario. They can be used for cooking, and they make a wonderful applesauce.

Empire - The Empire is similar to the Mac, but is harder and crisper.

Spartan - The Spartan is also very similar to the Mac, though much sweeter.

Royal Gala - The Royal Gala is a great eating apple, being super sweet and crisp.

Golden Russets - Golden Russets are a sweet, crisp apple, getting its name from the rusty skin that covers it.

Cortland - Cortland are a well-rounded apple, great for eating and cooking.

Honeycrisp - A relatively new but immensely popular arrival on the market, the Honeycrisp arrives early in September, with it’s own unique sweet but crispy taste.

Late Apples - First Available: October

Northern Spy - The Spy is an excellent cooking apple, being very firm and hardy.  It is a fairly tart apple, and is not used as often for eating.  Remember…if you’re baking a pie…use Spy!

Ida Red - Idas are another excellent cooking apple, very tart to eat, but very crisp and juicy.

Red Delicious - Red Delicious are easy to recognize by their unique shape. This apple is very sweet.

Golden Delicious - The Golden Delicious is cousin to the red, but less sweet.

New varieties:
 
“The new Ambrosia and Silken trees are growing! They won’t have very many apples this year, but soon our stand will be overflowing with them”.

Ambrosia - A sweet crispy flesh characterized by pink skin and is ready around the end of September.

Silken - A white gold apple with flesh both crispy and juicy, which emerges mid-September with a storage life of three months.

Apples, peaches, pears and plums…tell me when your birthday comes.  The Farmer’s Pantry is a great place to host a birthday party.  

With Halloween and Thanksgiving coming up…pumpkins and gourds will abound.  Coming in all shapes and sizes The Farmer’s Pantry is the perfect place to have your pumpkin pick their pumpkin.

For more information about The Farmer’s Pantry visit their website

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