Getting To Know Our Local Sheep Farmers
Food Mediaplanet caught up with Ontario sheep producers, Liz and Phil smith from breezy ridge farms, to put a face to the farming that brings us our delicious foods.
Mediaplanet: What is the biggest benefit to eating local foods?
Liz and Phil Smith: The biggest benefit to the consumer of eating local foods is the freshness, variety and availability of product. With mainstream stores stocking local Ontario food in recent years, it’s easier than ever for Ontarians to buy local. Eating local helps ensure the long-term sustainability of Ontario’s farmers and businesses.
MP: What are some fun ways people can experience local foods?
LPS: Some of the fun ways that people can experience local foods visiting farmer’s markets where they can find a wide variety of locally grown produce. The markets generally start mid-May and run to mid-October or later depending on the location. We sell our lamb on Tuesdays at June Rowlands Park in the Mt Pleasant/Davisville area. Farmers Markets are also an excellent opportunity to get to know farmers, to ask questions and learn more about where your food comes from. Consumers can also take advantage of pick-your-own and agri-tourism opportunities. Another opportunity includes visiting the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in November or other fairs close to your area.
MP: How can we get more attention on the local food movement?
LPS: Increasing awareness of the local food movement in the mainstream and social media will help to bring more attention to the local food movement. Word of mouth will also help, with people talking about their farm experiences. Engaging children will be important, as they will remember the adventure and pass it along to their children, especially if buying local is a memorable experience for them in seasonal trips to pick strawberries, apples, pumpkins, or visiting local livestock farms.
MP: What makes Ontario food unique?
LPS: Ontario food is produced by family farms; families who care about the quality and safety of the food they are producing. In Ontario, a wide variety of fresh produce and meat is available. Buying locally gives you access to products you may not have found or experienced otherwise. For example along with selling the traditional cuts of lamb we also sell lamb bacon. For example, if you would like to order specific cuts for a big BBQ or party, the farmer can arrange to have their butcher produce specific cuts for your event. Not only will you have exactly what you need, but you will also have a local story to go along with your meal.
MP: Why should Ontarians support local food initiatives?
LPS: Buying from an Ontario farmer means that your food comes from close to home. You are supporting local farmers, the local economy, and receiving a fresh product by eating local.
Buying local also helps the environment. Ontario farmers are stewards of the land, they grow a diversity of crops and care for a range of different farm animals, by doing this, farmers provide habitat for wildlife, promote healthy soil, water conservation and air quality.