Ottawa Valley Food Co-operative's monthly Newsletter!

Food For Thought

October 2022

News about fresh, healthy food and products delivered year-round to locations throughout the Valley

In This Issue

  • About the OVFC
  • Ordering Cycle opens October 2 and runs until October 10th for October 18th delivery.
  • EVENT – Farms Open Renfrew County 2022 - A Great Success!
  • Taste of the Valley
  • Producer Highlight: Stewart Ridge Farm
  • Eating Well - Squash
  • Volunteer of the Month - Perri-Rae Boell

About the OVFC

The Ottawa Valley Food Coop (OVFC) is a non-profit co-operative that provides an internet-based ordering system to facilitate the buying and selling of local food and products. Its vision is to support a local, sustainable food system which is economically viable for producers and provides fresh, healthy food and products to consumers.
The Co-op supports local food, seasonal eating, farmers’ markets, farm gate sales, food literacy and food events. It recognizes the value of relationships that connect consumers and producers in building resilient, local food systems. Activities of OVFC are guided by core values of healthy communities, environmental stewardship, social justice and vibrant local economies. To find out even more, visit our website.


OVFC Order Cycle

  • The October ordering period is open from at 6:00am on Sunday, October 2 and ends at midnight on Monday, October 10th
  • Delivery Day is Tuesday, October 18


OVFC Successfully Organizes the First Annual "Farms Open” in Renfrew County

By Marshall Buchanan

In 2021, while the pandemic prevented many events from taking place, we were discussing ways the OVFC could help build relationships between farmers and non-farmers.   We wanted to create a fun and educational event that would help energize our local food movement.  We knew that since the OVFC was founded in 2007, significant cash investments and renovations were being made on farms throughout the upper Ottawa Valley.  Some farmers were raising rare breeds, creating unique local foods, renovating barns, opening on-farm stores, learning culinary arts and even apiculture - the craft of beekeeping.
The OVFC Board of Directors thought it was time to organize some farm tours so people could discover firsthand all these efforts that are rejuvenating our local food system.  Some type of tour such as a Farm Crawl or Farm Hop was suggested by OVFC board member, Emily Behm.  Ashleigh Cluff told us that in Atlantic Canada there is an event run simultaneously in Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland called Open Farms Day.  We quickly learned that Open House events on farms were already popular in Canada and around the world.   A committee of farmers, OVFC board members, and Renfrew County’s Economic Development officer David Wybou was struck in February 2022 to begin planning “Farms Open”.
After a long journey filled with many meetings and a training session held by the registered charity Food and Farm Care Inc., the first Farms Open event was held in Renfrew County on Sunday September 18th, 2022.
Nine different farms and rural business stepped up to be the courageous hosts that opened their premises to the public in this inaugural year.  The 2022 Farms Open host were: 

  • Forest Cove Alpacas, Chalk River
  • Schulist Family Farm, Combermere
  • Mapleside Sugar Bush, Pembroke
  • Alder Creek Farm, Golden Lake
  • Sernoskie’s Tree Farm, Golden Lake
  • Pinnacle Haven Farm, Renfrew
  • Cardale Acres, Scotch Bush
  • Ottawa Valley Farm to Fork, Scotch Bush
  • Calabogie Rustic Farm, Calabogie

The farms hosts did an amazing job of preparing their farms.  Nobody knew how many people would come or if bad weather would spoil the day.  It turned out that people were keen to come despite some rain.  As one guest said, “I have an umbrella and I’m not made of sugar.”
Most farms witnessed a steady stream of visitors all day.  There were many young families, babies in strollers, and delighted children. There was much to enjoy and lots of animals to meet including horses, alpacas, sheep, cattle, goats, and chickens.  Some people took garden tours while others just enjoyed walking in the rural landscape, and among future Christmas trees, picking apples, and taking photos.  Many sites had mini markets at which guests could taste gourmet foods such as lamb sausage, burgers, and sausage rolls, and where many could buy veggies, pierogies, apples, meats, honey, and baked goods. Guests were very eager to learn about gardening, farm economics, and how animals are raised. For many children, it was a first time getting close to a goat or a cow. Some were able to feed animals wild apples by hand.  Jennifer Doleman of Farmers Daughter Honey explained the art and science of beekeeping and demonstrated many of the tools of the trade.  At Pinnacle Haven Farm, there were sheep shearing demos and Calabogie Rustic Farm had a horse logging demo, chainsaw art and music.
The event drew people from as far as Deep River and Ottawa which was vital to the success of the event.  In these polarized times, it is more important than ever that rural and urban residents get to know each other better.  It was great for business as well.  Many farms made promising contacts with other business owners, including restauranteurs looking for suppliers or photographers looking for venues to book photo sessions. 
Even though this was just the “ice-breaker” first year, many host sites had 100 or more guests which is a good indication there is strong interest in culinary and agritourism in Renfrew County going forward.  To quote Jennifer Sernoskie, “Farming is tough, and we can easily feel like we are isolated, so I appreciated the sense of community that this event built.  Our little operations need to stick together to keep the small farm a thing of the future.”
Facebook: @farmsopen2022
Instagram: @farmsopen2022

Many thanks to all the participants and organizers.
See you in 2023 


Taste of the Valley 2022

The Taste of the Valley is a series of wonderful markets at which many Ottawa Valley Farmers and Vendors show off their produce and wares for you to purchase.  It is a fall festival celebrating all things grown, made and created within Renfrew County.  You will see many of the OVFC’s regular producers there as well. You will hear, smell, and taste the delicious products Renfrew County farmers’ produce.
Deep River – Champlain Street, Saturday, October 1st, 10am-3:00 pm
Arnprior – Downtown, Sunday, October 2nd, 9am-2:00 pm
Cobden – Cobden Fair Ground, October 15th, 8am-3:00 pm

Producer Highlight - Stewart Ridge Farm

Contact: Ben Stewart
848 Clifford Side Road Renfrew,
ON  K7V 3Z4   613-635-3661

About Us
We started Stewart Ridge Farm in 2019 with the goal of providing top quality, locally raised food products to consumers of the Ottawa Valley. It all began with the purchase of a small beef herd and a few pigs and we have kept growing ever since. We are lovers of good food and take pride in producing quality cuts of meat for you and your family to enjoy. While the caliber of our products are our top priority, we also ensure that each and everyone of the animals on our farm are given the best life possible.

We are big believers of regenerative farming practices, using rotational grazing as a method to improve our soil quality naturally with the manures of our animals. Better soil in turn creates more nutritional pastures, which makes for happy and healthier animals. Our beef is grass-fed, grass-finished with no use of antibiotics or hormones and have been raised on our farm since day one. We buy our pigs as weaner piglets from local farms in the Valley, where then they are grown to an optimum healthy weight. All of our meat is butchered at a government inspected abattoir, we use Mcgarroch of Micksburg Custom Butchering for our pork, and Reiche Meat Products for our beef.

If you have any questions regarding how our farm operates, please feel free to contact us!
If you are interested in volunteering for the OVFC, be assured it is a very rewarding endeavor. You can send an email to with your phone number and our volunteer coordinator, Lynne Epps, will reach out to you right away.

Eating Well 
It's Squash Season
by: Connie Matthews-Cull

    This year our garden was a super producer of butternut squash. This is good news as by mid-winter it can be rather expensive when one may be paying by the pound. A good-sized squash can cost as much as $10. Consequently, I have been spending spare time preparing my squash by slicing off the tough outer skin and chopping the gorgeous orange innards into 2-3 cm cubes and freezing them in four cup portions.
    Most squash soup recipes call for four cups.  Squash soup is always received very well the first three or four times.  However, two or three pots of squash soup can be a bit much, and so for the rest of the fall and winter, we roast ours for a delicious hardy yellow vegetable for just about every single entre. It pairs well with all meat and fish and yet is substantial enough to be a delicious side to all vegetarian menus.

Roasting Butternut Squash Cubes
  • 5-8 cubes of butternut squash for each guest ( 3 cm squares,approx.)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 F.  I use parchment paper under squash for ease of clean up on workdays. In a bowl, mix squash with oil and salt.  Bake approx. 40 mins. Check to see if it pierces easily with a fork.  Serve hot as a side.

Perri- Rae Boell
OVFC Volunteer of the Month
Perri- Rae grew up on a small hobby farm on the Barr Line just outside of Douglas, ON where her father raised cows, chickens and some pigs. She doesn’t remember buying any meat from the grocery store and loved it! She got married to Rob and moved to Rankin and had her triplets in 1997 - Brady, Callie and Shelby.  It’s very important to Perri-Rae and her family to buy local, to support local and to give back to their community and they do that by buying meat and vegetables from local farmers.  Before Covid, she served on a couple of committees that shut down when everyone had to stay at home.  It was important to be involved in the community so when she saw the notice that the Ottawa Valley Food Cooperative was looking for board members, she jumped at the chance.  Working full time, she needs to keep a balance in her life, so decided that in addition to attending monthly board meetings, she could help with the setup at the depot in Eganville. That’s where the volunteers get the orders and coolers ready for the next crew to come in on delivery day
Perri-Rae is a Financial Advisor/Owner of Co-operators in Pembroke serving over 200 farmers as clients. Co-operators was also a sponsor of our very first Farms Open which was a huge success. She sees daily, how hard farmers work and the hours it takes to do what they do and admires each and every one of them.  “It is my business to make sure their farms are protected in the event of a loss so they can continue their work.  I am very proud to work for a company that has been helping farmers since 1945,” Boell adds.
Perri-Rae Boell encourages anyone who is not a member of the Ottawa Valley Food Cooperative to try it out.  There is a such a large variety of local producers to choose from.
The OVFC thanks Perri-Rae for her dedication and hard work each month.

Are you interested in contributing, volunteering or advertising your business in this newsletter?  Contact:
Find Out More - Visit Our Website
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