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Are Rutabaga’s on the Menu this Holiday season?

16 Dec

RutabagaMy favourite side dish with turkey or beef is rutabaga … and, apparently, it’s a really healthy choice.  Last spring we met with the Hubbard Family in Blyth to learn about their business.

George Hubbard started a family business, G.L. Hubbard Ltd., in 1962 when he purchased the plant located on Dinsley Street East in Blyth from Russ Dougherty.

The rutabaga is a root vegetable with a yellow flesh.  It is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.  It reported originated in Scandanavia or Russia and was first found in North America in the early 19th century.  They are served a variety of ways in many countries, but in Canada they are most often used as filler in mincemeat and Christmas Cake or served as a side dish.

Rutabaga are planted 6” apart, and only 12 acres had been planted when we visited this producer on May 13, 2014.  2013’s extremely long winter delayed the planting season this spring.  Plans were being made to plant another 12 – 17 acres in the couple weeks following, with planting all finished by the end of June.  The rutabaga is a 90-day crop and harvest begins in October, taking approximately three weeks to complete.

Phil & Karen Hubbard trimming the rutabagas for shipping

Phil & Karen Hubbard trimming the rutabagas for shipping

The rutabagas are pulled in the field by a harvester, trucked into the plant and unloaded via stackers to prevent bruising and cracking.  They are kept at 33 degrees in a humidity-controlled room and  about 50,000 bushels are stored in the two on-site storage sheds.  There are two more sheds off-site.  Each week this plant processes  2,000 – 4,000 bushels, depending on the market – typically less in spring and more in fall and winter months as that’s when the harvest take place and when the consumer demands this tasty root vegetable.

Buckets on a tractor transport the rutabaga from the storage shed to a wash station. Rutabagas are then washed twice.   Hubbard Farm is still using its original washing equipment.  Rutabagas travel, via an auger, into a holding bin where they drop to be trimmed and sized/sorted by hand.  Trimming is done only for esthetics. The next step in the processing is waxing – a process that requires six people.  And, finally, stickers with Foodland Ontario’s bar codes are applied and the rutabaga are boxed in 50lb boxes for shipping.

Hubbard’s ship every day with Friday being their biggest day to accommodate shipping schedules into the United States.  They have enjoyed a long term partnership with Stovel Siemon of Mitchell for shipping their products across Canada and into the U.S.

Yearly inspections are required at Hubbard’s for food safety standards. It is a year-round business with down-time in July for repairs and cleaning.  A recent new shed was erected on the property to meet food safely requirements.  It houses packing cartons and skids.

This operation currently keeps six families in Canada and seven immigrant families employed including two of George’s daughters, his son and one of his grandsons.  Many of the immigrant families have other jobs in their native Jamaica such as driving a taxi, farming, and building furniture. Since 1988, foreign workers have been a part of the Hubbard Farm with nine arriving each spring, rising to 13 each fall.

Rutabagas are high in Vitamin C. I asked Susan Hubbard what the most intriguing recipe she’d heard of and she responded “Cheese Whiz and mashed rutabaga” – I guess I should try it that way too, although I find it most delicious mashed with a little browh sugar, salt and pepper, and slathered in gravy. It can also be served with apples. 

If you haven’t tried Rutabaga put it on your bucket list.  It can be purchased year round at most grocery stores, or direct from the plant at 367 Dinsley Street during business hours.

Hubbard RutabagaG.L. Hubbard Ltd.
367 Dinsley St., PO Box 340
Blyth, Ontario, Canada  N0M 1H0
(519) 523-4554 

_ _ _

Sadly, shortly after our visit at Hubbard Rutabaga plant last spring George Hubbard passed away.  He will be missed by his family and many friends and neighbours in Huron County and beyond.    His family will continue to operate the business and farms.

Bayfield Christmas Parade

4 Dec

by Diva Rachel Lynn

Ahhhh Christmas. I love everything about Christmas.  I love the snow. I love the carols. I love spending time with family and I love Christmas themed events.  I gathered up my mother-in-law and daughter and headed to Christmas in Bayfield.

We arrived as the stores opened to beat the morning crowds… or so we thought.  It seems like a lot of others had the same idea.  As we popped in and out of stores, there were free offerings of hot chocolate and apple cider to keep us warm.

The crowd is getting bigger waiting for Ol’ Saint Nick

The crowd is getting bigger waiting for Ol’ Saint Nick

The shops were decorated for the Christmas season and the music was playing in the background and I caught myself humming along.  You could also get free horse drawn carriage rides around town.

JMR Gallery & Village Bookshop are ready to welcome guests

JMR Gallery & Village Bookshop are ready to welcome guests

It was time for the parade and people were lining up on the Main Street.  There was a variety of people in the parade from miniature horses, to a pipe band to the local fire department.

FiretrucksAndFuryFriendsI managed to pick up a few goodies, but unfortunately I can’t show you the pictures!  Someone reading this may be a recipient of the gifts!

After an hour of shopping we decided to visit the Albion Hotel for a bite to eat.  The place was packed!  We didn’t even think to make reservations but managed to grab one of the last tables.  We decided to feast on wings and sweet potato fries.  I must commend the waitress.  She was amazing! Even though the place was full, our drink order came fast, our meal was really fast and the food was hot and delicious.  I would recommend the Albion to anyone who wants a relaxed atmosphere.  I will even go so far to so say the Albion has the best wings around.

WingsFries

Beatrice was fast asleep as we headed home.  Despite the rain, it was a fantastic day.  The people were happy, the streets were full and Bayfield helped us all get ready for Christmas.

A few tips for those attending the parades:

  • If the parade is on Main St and you can back your car up in a parking spot, please do.  This will help if it is raining or too cold so you can watch from the front seat.
  • If you plan on eating before or after the parade at a local restaurant, make reservations to avoid disappointment.
  •  If you didn’t make the Bayfield Santa Claus Parade, Santa is making one more stop in Huron County – Clinton Santa Claus Parade: December 5 @ 7pm

A Busy Friday Afternoon at the Bayfield Farmer’s Market 

1 Aug


Whether it is stopping on the side of the road to pick up some sweet corn on the honour system or frequenting markets, eating local is both good for you and our economy!

Whether it is stopping on the side of the road to pick up some sweet corn on the honour system or frequenting markets, eating local is both good for you and our economy!

By Diva Calista Powell

We are so fortunate in our area to have beautiful lakes and land that make for the perfect farming climate. We are also very lucky that we have so many places in Huron County for small businesses to sell their harvest. As a past “Londonite” I made sure to visit the many markets the city has to offer, but had never been to one in HC. It just so happened that for one of my other jobs I was asked to sell tickets for a local initiative in Bayfield during the market hours on Clangregor Square. Boy, was I ever impressed. I thought that the sleepy beach town of Bayfield would have a small turnout, but each booth was so busy, I hardly had a chance to chat with the vendors. I was also impressed because there wasn’t just the regular old fruit and veggie stands lining the square. I enjoyed a hot coffee from Shop Bike Coffee Roasters and a vanilla cinnamon roll from the Red Cat Farms bakery cart. I also had the chance to say hello to Pat McDougall and Shelagh Sully of CovenTree Gardens and peruse through Irene Morris’ unique garden art. Overall, Bayfield Market has a great selection of vendors and is worth the visit this summer.

Check out the Bayfield Farmer’s market every Friday from 3-7PM on Clangregor Square.To find other markets in the area download Huron Perth’s Farm to Table, “Buy Local! Buy Fresh!” guide here:http://huronperthfarmtotable.ca/consumers/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/4th-BLBF-Map-FINAL.pdf

Firmly Rooted supplies many happy customers with fresh seasonal veggies.

Firmly Rooted supplies many happy customers with fresh seasonal veggies.

Pat McDougall and Shelagh Sully pose for a shot with their fresh cut flowers. Coventree Gardens is known as the home of Bayfield lilies.

Pat McDougall and Shelagh Sully pose for a shot with their fresh cut flowers. Coventree Gardens is known as the home of Bayfield lilies.

Irene Morris smiles alongside her work that was originally inspired by art she saw in Ottawa.

Irene Morris smiles alongside her work that was originally inspired by art she saw in Ottawa.

 

A Shopping Trip to the Exeter Market

24 Jun Exeter's Farmer's Market

by Diva Christine Harris

Exeter's Farmer's MarketIt was a beautiful day outside for a Farmer’s Market and I was lucky enough to meet all the vendors and talk to them.  Here are the people and places I met on June 19th during my shopping trip to the market.

Truly-Local-(2)Truly Local

Matt McIntire from Truly Local has a food truck set up and today his specials are Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Meatball Subs. Matt believes in using only local meat, he can tell you exactly where he has gotten his meat from that he’s serving that day and when it was butchered.

Eagleson-FarmsEagleson Farms

Matt Eagleson primarily sells beef, lamb and pork from his farm near Grand Bend.  Most of their food is organic, or pretty close to it.  They also have peanut products from the Simcoe area.

The Healthy Hemp GuyThe Healthy Hemp Guy

Brent Holden sells Canadian made hemp products such as clothes, soaps, and seeds.  He also has a variety of balms, bamboo towels and coconut oil.

Bayfield-Berry-FarmBayfield Berry Farm

This vendor has a wide variety of items, ranging from produce to baked goods and canned goods.  Today the strawberries are in season as well as asparagus and rhubarb.  The pies and tarts look great!

Sandra's-Country-CraftsSandra’s Country Crafts

Sandra has a variety of crafts available for sale.  She enjoys making canvas art, handmade jewelry, and she also knits and crochets items like dishcloths.

WallyWally’s

Wally makes his very own jams, pickles and relish, all ready to take home at reasonable prices.

Good-Luck-GardensGood Luck Gardens

Joanne and Dave Foster are from Kirkton and have been in business for 24 years now.  Today tomatoes, asparagus and potatoes are for sale. They also have some beautiful planters and if you’re someone who enjoys growing their own food, they have heirloom tomato plants.  Look for Joanne on the cover of Rural Voice.

Pillitteri-Estates-WineryPillitteri Estates Winery

All the way from Niagara on the Lake this family owned and operated business joins our farmer’s market with five types of wine.  They have been in business since 1993 and have won over 700 awards.

Susan's-CraftsSusan’s Crafts

Susan has many unique crafts in her booth today.  She makes birdfeeders and what she calls dress-ups for the kids.  She also makes handmade quilts, pillows and purses from used clothing.

The-Home-FarmThe Home Farm

Kirk and Carol pick their produce the morning they come out to the market, so you know what you’re getting is fresh.  Today Carol is selling peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley, lettuce and garlic. She also makes baked goods from spelt, which you can also buy as berries to make your own goodies at home. Today she sells a variety of cookies and pies.

Sheldon-BerriesSheldon Berries

Ray Sheldon from Lakeside Ontario is displaying some beautiful strawberries today.  He tells me that they have raspberries in their greenhouses and blueberries will be ready for July.  Ray is also selling honey, apple butter and raspberry jam.

Cedarvilla-Angus-FarmsCedarVilla Angus Farms

This 7th generation family farm from the Zurich area takes great pride in their products.  Today they were selling beef roasts, pepperettes and beef jerky.  You can contact them to place larger orders as well.

Garden Centres in Full Bloom

2 Jun
A few of the heirloom tomatoes that Plant Paradise sells.

A few of the heirloom tomatoes that Plant Paradise sells.

by Diva Calista Powell

Planting season is now upon us as the warm weather is finally here. I went out to Plant Paradise in Vanastra to pick up some fresh herbs and had a little chat with co-owner, Marie VanDorp. In between servicing customers, Marie gave me a quick tour of the several greenhouses on the property and explained that they grow 50 varieties of tomatoes and 40 varieties of peppers; both of which are top sellers along with their hanging flower baskets. To ensure close to wholesale pricing, Marie and her husband Gary strive to keep their overhead down by having a small staff and working through the winter season.

What stood out to me during my talk with Marie was her dedication to philanthropy and her strong desire to support local businesses within in the area. She said that as a business owner she feels they have a responsibility to give back to the community that supports them. Motivated by her morals, each year at the Mother’s Day grand opening of Plant Paradise, Marie and Gary donate all of the barbecue proceeds to a charity of their choice. In the past they have contributed to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and as of this year, the Vanastra Rec Center renovation fund. As if this isn’t enough, Marie and Gary manage their own personal hobby farm and grow 1 acre of fruit and vegetables which they donate to local food banks. She stated that although they are in their busy season she finds the time to manage both her business and philanthropic work because, “that’s part of being a community, you pass it on”.Plant Paradise is located at 20 Fifth Avenue in Vanastra, Ontario and they are open generally from 9-5, 7 days a week unless stated otherwise. Come out to see their beautiful selection of annuals and perennials.
PlantParadise1s
 Plant Paradise sells a variety of hanging flower baskets and potted plants.

 

Plant Paradise
20 Fifth Ave
Vanastra, N0M 1L0

Click this link to find more Garden Centres/Nurseries in Huron County.

 

Beechwood Pottery Christmas Show & Sale

19 Nov

IMG_4476by Diva Trista Russell

This past weekend I had the pleasure of checking out Beechwood Pottery, which is just outside St. Columban in Huron East. I have to admit it’s in an area of Huron County that I rarely visit, but I am very glad that I made the trip!

Each year Beechwood Pottery holds their Christmas Show and Sale, which is a studio open house featuring pottery by Robert Tetu and Cora De Vries. I had the pleasure of meeting both Robert and Cora, and Robert told me the story of how he got into pottery. He previously attended art school in Toronto, but later decided it wasn’t for him. After some unfulfilling jobs, he decided to attend a pottery class with a friend, where he discovered his passion for pottery. He now runs Beechwood Pottery along with his partner Cora, which is displayed in a historic general store at the corner of Beechwood Line and Bridge Road.

When I arrived, I was greeted with some hot mulled wine while I pursued the pottery collection. There was a mix of functional pottery and beautiful decorative items. There was also some gorgeous porcelain earrings made by Cora.

beautiful and functional pottery 1

beautiful and functional pottery 1

Since Christmas is quickly approaching, I starting thinking about Christmas gifts. I think the oil and vinegar dispensers would be a great gift for a “foodie” in your life! What is great about the pottery is that all of it is ovenproof, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and lead free. I ended up purchasing some small wine mugs, which I’m going to wrap up with a bottle of wine as a unique Christmas gift!

With its one-of-kind pieces, Beechwood Pottery is definitely a hidden gem in Huron County

IMG_4479

Beechwood Pottery
44004 Bridge Road (4 km. north of St. Columban)
Phone: 519-345-2184
Email: beechwood@cyg.net

porcelain earrings - another great Christmas gift idea

porcelain earrings – another great Christmas gift idea

wine mugs that I purchased for a Christmas gift

wine mugs that I purchased for a Christmas gift

Sundays in the Bend

2 Sep

IMG_3824By Diva Trista Russell

I remember going to the Pinery Antique Flea Market at least once a year when I was growing up. It was the perfect excuse to go for a Sunday drive and see what treasures could be found. I went back again this year, and 2013 marks their 46th season!

The Pinery Antique Flea Market is an indoor and outdoor market with over 200 vendors. Aside from antiques, they have an incredible variety of items for sale: direct sale products (Pampered Chef, Avon, etc.), bulk candy and nuts, books, clothes, baking, plants, garden decor, furniture, purses, jewellery, cosmetics, local produce, meats, fresh coffee, organic skin care products…and more. I ended up purchasing some metal flower stakes for my flower beds that were priced at 3 for $10.

If you like antiques, you can walk down memory lane as you browse through their 7,000 square foot building. What is unique about this market is that the outdoor vendors are shaded by huge mature trees. This makes it quite comfortable to browse through on a hot summer day.

IMG_3825 IMG_3826 IMG_3830

Admission is only $1 per person (children 12 years old and under are free), and there is plenty of parking. There is also a beer garden and live entertainment beside the 1930’s vintage gas station. I ended up sleeping in on Sunday (one of my favourite past times on the weekend), so I missed the hot breakfast they offered from 8 to 10am.

IMG_3832Tip: If you are looking for some food, try Woody’s fresh cut fries. Woody’s is located in the chip truck on the path closest to Bluewater Highway. I got the small size for $2.75, and it was huge (see photo)!

The Pinery Antique Flea Market is open Sundays, rain or shine, from 8am to 4pm all summer long until Thanksgiving.

For more information, phone 519-238-8382 or send them an email.

Directions: Located on Bluewater Highway (Highway 21), 3 miles south of Grand Bend on the east side of the road, halfway between the Pinery Provincial Park and Grand Bend.

IMG_3833 IMG_3834

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