Category Huttonville

Bucket List Job: Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Since I will probably never live on a farm, the next best thing just might be working on one. I recently had the privilege of working at Carl Laidlaw Orchards during their apple harvest. On such an exceptionally beautiful farm, the job perks were bountiful.


Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

Best bosses ever. Mark and Laura. I think anyone who knows Mark and Laura – from employees to farm guests to family and friends – would agree they are such sunny-souled, kind-hearted people.


Laura and her sunflowers.


Mark in his orchard.

Awesome staff. Supportive and so fun to work with. Sorry to miss the farm dinner. Nice working with you all.


Top quality, farm-to-table products. Pick your own apples and pears. If you think you don’t like apples, you haven’t tasted a ripe, juicy apple plucked from a Carl Laidlaw Orchards tree.


As the season progressed, I snacked on a different variety of apple every week, each with its own unique characteristics; the flavours and textures were brilliant. How can I go back to boring, red delicious grocery store apples, now that the season is over?


Freshly picked corn, squash, pumpkins. Aren’t these ghost pumpkins adorable?


Freshly baked pies and gorgeous, gourmet flatbreads.

Pretty candy apples. Artisanal jams, salsas, mustards, and honey, including Mark and Laura’s very own small-batch honey produced from hives right on their farm. Heaven for a foodie like me. Nothing like selling a product you love and then coming home with it.

Laidlaw Honey

Enjoyable tasks. Chatting with the customers as I checked them out. Teaching them what Mark and Laura taught me about the apples. Getting hugs from our happy, wee visitors.

Spending the day making candy apples. Just call me the bee whisperer – the friendly little chaps thankfully found the candy sweeter than me (we gave them a taste of their own).

Picturesque space. Charmingly nostalgic thanks to Laura’s ultra creative touch. Described on instagram as “if Kate Spade opened an apple orchard”.

I loved working in the barn – every corner was picture perfect. With the doors wide open on both ends of the building, I was protected from the elements but felt like I was in fresh air all day long.

Breathtaking surrounding. Stunning orchards rolling down to the scenic Credit River.


Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

Best commute. Through farmland accented with cricket’s song.

Hard to pick what I loved best about my job. Maybe the terrific customers, whose love of the farm brings them back year after year, and whom Laura and Mark greet with a warm farm hug like they are part of the farm family.

And so, for those of you who scratched their heads when I said I was working on a farm, now you know. What a pleasure it was to work at Carl Laidlaw Orchards. The harvest is over for this year. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit next season. Follow Laura’s blog for updates (

Thank you, Mark and Laura. Warm farm hugs to you too, and Spencer and Margo. xxxx Olive.

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An Apple a Day: Local Apple Season Has Begun

Have you got a hankering for cinnamon-scented apple crisp (recipe here), served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?

Mom's Apple Crisp

Mom’s Apple Crisp

Maybe a slice of cheddar cheese and homemade apple pie (recipe here), piled high with juicy apples in a flaky crust?


Mark’s Apple Orchard Pie * Photo: Laura Kelly, Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Leaning toward something on the savoury side? How about a steaming bowl of apple squash soup (recipe here)?


Laura’s Apple Squash Soup, Carl Laidlaw Orchards

or honey-drizzled apple and cheese tartine (recipe here) to enjoy with a glass of wine?

Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

Fall Fruit & Cheese Tartine with Honey Drizzle * Photo: Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

Perhaps, after all that summer indulging, you just want to sink your teeth in a freshly-picked, crisp apple.


Local apple season has begun! Gather up your family and friends and visit an apple orchard. Visit my post, Happy Under the Apple Boughs: Carl Laidlaw Orchards, for a glimpse of what this beautiful orchard has to offer.


Carl Laidlaw Orchards

Enjoy the fall colours, sunshine, and fresh air. Pick your own apples; come home with rosy cheeks and a bounty of apples.


Learn the proper way to pick an apple so you don’t damage next year’s crop. Ripe apples separate easily from the stem; gently lift the bottom of the apple up towards the sky and twist gently, so you don’t remove any of the branch (and next year’s apple) from the tree. Make sure to thank the farmer before leaving.


Thank you, Mark Laidlaw (Carl Laidlaw Orchards).

Contact your local orchard to find out what fruit is ready to pick (they ripen at different times). It’s a good idea to review their farm etiquette before visiting.

For a list of local orchards in your area, visit:

Grown in Peel:

Grown in Halton:

My local favourites are listed on my farm directory but call the orchard directly for updated hours of operation for 2015.

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Simple Pleasures on the Farm

I try to contain myself but I just can’t help revelling in the gifts of every season: fireflies lighting up a summer’s night, the first crimson leaf to fall, the first snowfall, or the fragrant bouquets of lily-of-the-valley that my husband surprises me with every spring. He handpicks each stem from an abandoned garden.


I try to capture the right moment, when the trees are bursting with blossoms, to embrace my family underneath one so that we can be showered with petals. These are momentary pleasures that pass all too quickly. It’s important to me to slow down and breathe them in.

Photo contributed by Laura Kelly.

That’s why I love the blog simple pleasures on the farm. My friend, Laura Kelly, has an exceptional talent for capturing the simple but beautiful pleasures of the life she shares with her family on their picturesque farm, Carl Laidlaw Orchards. There’s always a captivating story to be told whether it’s the return of the bluebirds or Laura’s evening date with Mark strolling through the blossoming orchard, hunting for hidden treasures of wild asparagus. How romantic! Through stunning photography and honest, nostalgic writing that touches your heart, Laura shares the magic of the orchard with her readers.


You may remember I featured Laura and Mark in my post Happy Under the Apple Boughs: Carl Laidlaw Orchards. She and Mark are fabulous cooks too. I have posted some of Laura’s recipes on my blog: Laura’s Farmhouse-Fusion Apple Squash Soup, Mark’s Apple Orchard Pie, and Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce.

Laura is so creative. I am glad she is sharing her talents and treasures through a blog. I don’t want to miss one post, so I have signed up to receive them by e-mail (scroll down to the bottom of her blog).  I just had to share with you. Enjoy!

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Easter Feast: Part One

UPDATE: Crawford’s Village Bakery is closing November 30, 2014.

Grab your Easter bonnets, ladies and gents, and follow me along the virtual bunny trail as I gather up some of my favourite local treats. This week, I focus on what you need to order ahead: hams, quiches, pies, and handcrafted Easter chocolate. I share a great tip on exceptional wines and my favourite fruit salad recipe (scroll down to the bottom for Mary Katherine’s Cinnamon-Scented Fruit Salad). Next week: potatoes, homemade desserts, and decorations. Make your Easter feast special for the loved ones gathered around your table. Hippety hoppety!

If you are looking for premium local estate wines and boutique imports (many of which are not available through the LCBO) at direct-from-winery pricing, contact Oakville’s Laurie Blaha. A broker for Sideroad Twenty Cellars, Laurie will suggest wines to pair with your Easter dinner and give you a $10 off your first purchase coupon. Order on-line. Delivery can be made to your home, office, or cottage. Ontario residents only. But hurry – orders should be in by Monday April 14th for delivery by Thursday April 17th in time for Easter.

Our sizable clan is planning an easy Easter lunch. I’ve pre-ordered freshly baked quiches from Crawford’s Village Bakery & Distinctive Foods; they also sell frozen, unbaked quiches. Crawford’s is brimming with a wonderful assortment of quality gourmet pantry products and freshly baked goodies. Easter suggestions include lemon meringue or Easter Egg pies (chocolate mousse  pie garnished with whipped cream and an Easter egg, available from April 18th through April 21st only), squares (including rhubarb or lemon on a shortbread base), and cookies (including Cottontail cookies). Crawford’s handcrafted Easter chocolate, made on-site using fine Belgian chocolate, has been a long-enjoyed tradition for our family. Look at the fine detail on Charlotte and Edward and the beautifully decorated large egg, ready to be filled with Crawford’s truffles, hazelnut crisps, and caramels.


Quiches in the oven, next stop: ham. My nephew-in-law, Jean-Yves, served a succulent slower-cooker ham at Christmas, so I am giving this recipe a try for the first time: Cook’s Illustrated Slow-Cooker Glazed Ham. Cook’s Illustrated recipes are from America’s Test Kitchen and are exhaustively tested and re-tested, so I am confident the recipe will work. I bought the magazine (Cook’s Illustrated Make-Ahead Dinners 2014) at Target a few weeks ago but you can access the recipe on-line here by signing up for a 14-day free trial membership: (it costs a few dollars a month to continue with the membership).

You can’t use a spiral-cut ham for this recipe because it will dry out in the slow cooker. I’ve ordered a Country Ham (uncut, bone-in, skin-on, cured/smoked) from Heatherlea Farm Market in Caledon, ON. Heatherlea’s Country Hams are sourced from Stemmler’s in Heidelberg, Ontario and are excellent quality hams from local farms. Heatherlea Farm Market raises pasture-fed, free-run, drug-free Black Angus beef and sells local free-run, naturally-raised chicken, pork, lamb, and bison. Wild boar, Berkshire pork, and emu are available on occasion.

Especially lovely at Easter, this colourful fruit salad is enrobed with a cinnamon and citrus-infused syrup. I use a different combination of fruit every time: this time strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, mango, and oranges. Thanks to my bff’s sister-in-law, Mary Katherine, for the recipe.

Mary Katherine’s Cinnamon-Scented Fruit Salad

Makes about 6 servings (easily doubled)

This keeps well for a couple of days in the refrigerator.  Delicious served alone or over ice cream or lemon gelato. It makes a good breakfast topped with vanilla yogurt and granola.


1 orange
1 large lemon
About 5 to 6 cups total of assorted, ripe but still firm fruits, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (combos of citrus, berries and tree fruit work well)
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick


  1. With a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, remove only the peel (leaving the bitter white pith behind) of the orange and the lemon; slice peel into thick strips and set aside. Segment the orange, cut into bite-sized pieces and add to a large 8-cup capacity bowl; set aside. Juice the lemon; add about 3/4 of lemon juice to large bowl (reserve remaining 1/4 to adjust acidity level to your taste at the end).
  2. Add assorted fruit to large bowl; stir gently to coat with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Chill in refrigerator.
  3. Meanwhile, heat water to boiling in a small saucepan. Add sugar; stir until dissolved. Add cinnamon and reserved peel; immediately reduce to medium heat. Simmer gently until slightly reduced, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm.
  4. Strain syrup; pour over prepared fruit and fold in gently so as not to bruise fruit. Discard peel but keep cinnamon sticks for garnish. Taste salad and if desired, add remaining 1/4 of reserved lemon juice; fold gently. Cover and store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, if desired.
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Fun Farmer Felfies

“What on earth is a felfie” you ask? A “selfie” is a photo that you take of yourself and post to social media. Our farmers are taking the selfie trend and turning it into something cool: selfie + farmer = felfie.

To celebrate the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, I have collected felfies from some fun local farmers that you really ought to get to know. I hope you will be inspired to visit their farms and follow them on social media. Since it is #ThankaFarmerThursday, let’s tell these families how grateful we are for their farm-to-table-fresh, quality products. Be sure to check my Farm/Farmers’ Market Directory for a listing of local farm markets and farmers’ markets.

#felfie #familyfarming #ThankaFarmerThursday


The Thatcher Family:


#naturallyraised #farmbeauties #farmlove

“This is Dana and Sophie Thatcher, and their wee friend, of Thatcher Farms. We raise beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey and cut fresh meats here at the farm 5 days a week.  We have an on-farm butcher shop, bakery, and country store.”  [Dana Thatcher, Thatcher Farms]

Small-scale, mixed working farm. Naturally-raised, hormone, and additive-free meat; raised on farm, fed on their own farm-grown feed. Custom-order butchering. Meat pies, ready-made meals, sweet honey, eggs, pure maple syrup, artisan cheese, jams, and jellies, gift baskets, raw pet foods, and butchery classes. Click here to find out why Dana and Adam Thatcher earned the 2013 Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers award.

Thatcher Farms
#5727 5th Line of Eramosa, RR# 1
Rockwood, Ontario N0B 2K0
Telephone: (519) 856-4073
Twitter: @DanaBuylocal
Open year round (check website for Christmas hours):
Tuesday and Wednesday: 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Thursday and Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Farm-stand at: Guelph Farmers’ Market

The den Haan Family:


 #hardworkers #farmdog

“John den Haan or as some of us know him as “Poppa John” is a second generation farmer. His dad and mom (Opa and Oma) purchased the farm we now farm on today when they came from Holland. John’s duties include… well everything. He is a jack-of-all-trades; whether it’s milking the cows morning and night, feeding, or in the fields he’s hard at work. Megs, our Border Collie and mascot, helps to round up the cows in the morning and can often be found wherever John is. She spends her spare hours greeting customers at the farm store. John and Megs are a true picture of hard workers.” [Marianne den Haan, daughter, Sheldon Creek Dairy]


#nextgeneration #happyfarmer #yougogirl

“Emily den Haan is 23. She is farming full-time on her own farm across the road and at Haanview Farms. She actually has her very own herd of purebred shorthorns. These shorthorns are pretty special – they belonged to Archie Currie, our father/grandfather. Emily has taken over much of the herd and is the next generation to have these cows and well, let’s just say she definitely shares the same passion for cows as grandpa did.” [Marianne den Haan, daughter, Sheldon Creek Dairy]

On-farm production and glass bottling of whole, non-homogenized, minimally-processed, naturally fresh milk and yogurt products from John and Bonnie den Haan’s own herd of happy and healthy cows that graze the pastures of the 3rd generation Haanview farm in Sheldon Valley. On-farm store; products also available in other retail locations. The 3rd annual Sheldon Creek Dairy Day on the Farm will be held on June 14, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m..  It’s a great opportunity to meet the den Haan family and the cows, tour the barn, and enjoy the local farmers market, live music, face painting, kids craft, cooking demonstrations, and product samples.

Sheldon Creek Dairy
4316 RR#2
5th Concession
Loretto, Ontario L0G 1L0
Telephone:  (705) 434-0404
Open year round:
Monday to Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Laidlaw Family:


#familyroots #seventhgeneration #heirloomorchard

“I did capture our family planting a new orchard… (my favourite felfie). The tiny twig in the middle is in fact a baby apple tree! The feet belong to Spencer, Margo, [and their parents] Laura and Mark Laidlaw. And the last one is a little Hallowe’en vignette [of Laura] in our barn.” [Laura Kelly, Carl Laidlaw Orchards]


#creative #countrycharm

Seventh generation heirloom orchard and on-farm market: 20 varieties of pick-your-own or already-picked apples (including heirloom varieties), 3 varieties of pears, sweet corn, honey, and candy apples. Bring in baked goods, local squash, garlic, jams, and preserves.  Make your own pie on-site or buy already made. Barbeque hot dogs, sausages, corn, and drinks available on weekends. Old-fashioned fall family fun in a charming vintage setting. For details, please read my post “Happy Under the Apple Boughs: Carl Laidlaw Orchards”.

Carl Laidlaw Orchards
9496 Heritage Road
Brampton, Ontario
L6X 0A1
Telephone: (905) 456-2095
Open: daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during September and October, possibly into November depending on Mother Nature.

Thanks so much to my farmer friends for submitting your felfies!

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