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News & Stories

What do you do when an idea pans out? Enjoy it. Things are good at Limestone Creamery. As a pilot project for the Ontario dairy industry it has been a singular success that is now being looked at as a potential model for other locations around the province. The idea of building a small dairy processing plant located on a dairy farm, producing milk and cream and butter within sight of the cattle in fields, and selling the products at the same location and offering old-style milk delivery to the countryside and a nearby city can work.

The Groenewegen family, who live and farm on Sydenham Road north of Eginburg in South Frontenac, have made it happen. More importantly they have completed a transition from a traditional dairy farm to the kind of operation that the local food and food sustainability movement has embraced. All without changing the way they operate as a family farm.

Francis Groenewegen’s family had been dairy farmers in Holland and Canada, and own farm property near Harrowsmith. Kathie was raised on the farm where they live and work, which her parents bought in 1967. They decided to make the transition to organic dairy production and started making that transition in the late 1990s. They have now been fully organic for 15 years. They joined a number of other farmers from the surrounding area under the brand of Organic Meadow.

“One part of the change over time has been that we don’t push our milk cows to produce so much. They get some grain but are mostly grass fed. We find they are healthier and we can milk them until they are older; many of our milk cows are in their teens,” said Kathie Groenewegen in explaining how they really have not looked back from making the change.

“And the soil is better than it has ever been. This being the International Year of Soil it is important to mention that. Seeing improvement in the soil is pretty important to us, and since we are lucky enough to have our children working with us, it makes us feel we are building a future on this land, not just taking from it,”said Kathie Groenewegen when interviewed in the porch in front of the Limestone Creamery Farm store.

Daughter Olivia manages the farm store and son Patrick runs the processing equipment, while Kathie and Francis run the farm, but they all pitch in where they have to, and there are also four full-time and six parttime employees working in the business.

With support from OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs), National Farmers’ Union Local 317, and the Frontenac CFDC, Limestone Creamery started up their full service operation three years ago.

“Our business plan was based on us being able to sell half the milk we produce, and we are now selling just about all of it. We do 360 home deliveries, which is a lot, and through the store we sell products from some very good local farms. It’s been pretty exciting, and very busy,” said Kathie.

One part of the mandate of Limestone Creamery is to participate in the rebuilding of the local food system and the infrastructure that is necessary to support it. The processing plant itself enhances the local food infrastructure. At first it was also used by Organic Meadow to process the milk for the co-op, but Organic Meadow has built their own, so now there are two small local processors where there were none before. In the store, they carry cheese: Glengarry cheese (recent winner of a world cheese award), Gun Hill cheese from Western Ontario, and Bushgarden Cheese from Elgin.

Limestone Creamery has also been going to the Sunday Local market at the Memorial Centre in Kingston and has developed connections with a whole community of young farmers in the area.

“It’s really nice to see all that is going on, all these young farmers coming and working very hard to grow food. We like being a part of it.”limestone creamery

Limestone Creamery sells skim, 1%, 2% and whole milk, and they also carry non-homogenized milk, 3.8% chocolate milk, fresh churned salted and un-salted butter, half and half, whipping cream, and more.

Specialty products include Spring butter, and at Christmas time, Egg Nog, which everyone around loves. In the future they may start making Buttermilk, and perhaps some fresh cheese. The store also carries their own Hereford beef, Whitall baked goods, Freedom Farm and Patchwork Garden vegetables and much more.

Among those who have helped the Groenwegens along the way, the Frontenac CFDC has provided grants for the purchase of specific pieces of equipment through the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP), some money through loans, as well as encouragement and advice.

“They have supported us from the start,” said Kathie, “and still do today.” The next step for Limestone Creamery – and it is one they are already engaged in – is managing growth and capacity. Our goal has always been to run a family farm, and to keep it to a size that is manageable for ourselves and the land that we farm. We won’t grow beyond that.”

 

 

Article by Jeff Green, The Frontenac News

(Original article published in the Frontenac CFDC Summer 2015 newsletter)

Do you have an innovative business idea? Think you have what it takes to disrupt your industry and change the game?

The Spin Master Innovation Fund is looking for young innovators to compete for up to $50K in financing!

Futurpreneur Canada and Spin Master Ltd. are partnering for the fifth consecutive year to offer financing, mentoring and expert-led workshops for up to 10 young entrepreneurs who meet our criteria for innovative business ideas. 

The Application Deadline is June 19 2015.

Click to learn more!

Situated half-way between Toronto and Ottawa, the FAB (Food & Beverage) Region is making a name for itself in the world of craft beer. There are currently six breweries in operation, with another three scheduled to open in 2015. Below you will find a map and detailed listing of all the FABulous craft breweries!

Barley Days Brewery
13730 Loyalist Parkway, Picton, ON
613-476-7468
Website 
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Twitter

Church-Key Brewing
1628 County Road #38, Campbellford, ON
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Gateway Brewing Co.
33 Ontario Street, Trenton, ON
613-394-1010
Website
Facebook

Lake on the Mountain Brewing Co.
264 County Road 7, Prince Edward County
613-476-1321
Website

MacKinnon Brothers Brewing
1915 County Road 22, Bath, ON
613-777-6277
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Bancroft Eatery & Brew Pub
4 Bridge Street, Bancroft, ON
613-332-3450
Website
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Stay tuned! These craft breweries (below) will be in operation in 2015.

Fronterra Farm Camp & Brewery *Opening Soon*
242 North Beach Road (County Road 27), Prince Edward County, ON
Website
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County Road Beer Co. *Opening Soon*
1258 Closson Road, RR#1, Wellington, ON
Website
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Instagram

The County Canteen *Opening Soon*
279 Main Street, Picton, ON
Website
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Congratulations to Frontenac County’s Limestone Organic Creamery Ltd. on winning the “Outstanding Processor, Distributor, or Retailer Award” from the Organic Council of Ontario.

Limestone Organic Creamery is dedicated to providing fresh, nutritious organic dairy and whole foods to their customers. As a result of their efforts, Limestone Organic Creamery was recently recognized by the Organic Council of Ontario.

In it’s fifth year of celebrating excellence in Ontario’s organic sector, the Ontario Organic Awards was held on April 24th 2015 in Waterloo, Ontario. The awards recognize and celebrate innovation in organic agriculture in Ontario. Awards are given to individuals and businesses which show consistent pioneering efforts within Ontario’s organic sector.

Congratulations to owners Grancis and Kathie Groenewegen!

View all the awards here.

12-Limestone-Organic-Creamery-Processor

Robert Henderson prepares a batch of jam.

Robert Henderson prepares a batch of jam.

Henderson Farms is a business that springs directly from the old farm tradition of making jams and jellies throughout the year as fruits come into season.

The family farmhouse on Wolfe Island is where Robert Henderson makes all of his products in small batches, and although he uses stainless steel and modern sterilizations techniques in the process of making his award winning products, not much else is different than the way jam and jelly was made on the farm by his mother. In fact, until quite recently his mother did all the jarring for the company.

While the fresh figs and Seville oranges in some Henderson products are not produced on Wolfe Island, other ingredients are still grown on the family farm, just as they were when the company started up in the late 1980′s. “We started out doing organic gardening on the farm, got into jams and jellies to use up leftover fruit, and the jam business took over,” is how Robert Henderson describes how the business developed.

Oh, and there was, and is, a lot of work involved as well. The rhubarb patch at Henderson Farms is a 1/4 of an acre in size, which is a lot of rhubarb, and the rhubarb must be picked, cleaned, cut up and cooked or frozen immediately to be made into Rhubarb Fig Marmalade or Strawberry Rhubarb jam. Not only are the products all made by hand in small batches, but new products are introduced annually to keep the business moving forward and provide a challenge as well.

“It is not just a matter of making something new, it has to be good. That takes trial and error,” said Robert. The newest products on the list are Pear and Raspberry jam, and Garlic Scape Jelly, joining such perennial favourites such as Ginger, Wild blueberry, and Strawberry Jam; Apricot Jalapeno, Lime, Mint, and Wild Dandelion Wine Jelly; and Orange and Lemon and Seville Orange Marmalade.

Then there is the matter of sales. Henderson farms maintains a stall in the Kingston market, here they sell baked goods, cut flowers in the summer and other farm products in addition to jams and jellies. Two years ago, Robert starting making Dairy-free Sorbets forsale at the market in the summertime. They also participate in some small and some very large craft and other shows throughout the province, as well as selling in fine food stores in Ontario and Quebec.

Although the business has grown over the years, it is still very much a family run operation. Robert’s brother works with him full time, his sister on a part-time basis, and his mother is still involved, and even elements such as the design of the labels is done by a cousin, who it turns out is a graphic designer.

In fact, it’s been 20 years since the labels were designed, which is hard to believe because they still have a contemporary feel, and the effect was instant and long lasting. “As soon as we put the new labels on the jars, our sales doubled, and we haven’t looked back,” said Robert. Plans are coming together for Afternoon Teas this summer on the farm in Wolfe Island, as an additional part of the business.

Even with the track record of Henderson Jams and Jellies and legions of customers from across the Province and beyond, it is always necessary to move forward, introduce new products and new ways of marketing, and Frontenac CFDC has helped along the way with advice and loans. “The CFDC has helped with a loan when I re-did the kitchen a few years ago, and I have participated in workshops as well. They’ve been very helpful,” Robert said.

Article by Jeff Green, The Frontenac News

Frontenac CFDC is a non-profit organization offering free business advice and commercial financing to entrepreneurs and those looking to start a business in the Frontenacs and supports community based projects. Click for information.

While many people instinctively think of pairing chocolate and wine, we wanted to learn more about pairing craft beer with chocolate. Earlier this week we asked local chocolate specialist, Ludwig Ratzinger of Fine Chocolate By Ludwig, about pairing his chocolate with craft beer. Here’s what Ludwig had to say. Cheers!

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There are two varieties of my chocolate that would pair well with dark beer. Both of these chocolates pair nicely with Beau’s Tom Green Milk Stout or with Ashton Brewing Company’s Vanilla Stout.

1. Maracaibo Clasificado 65%

The Maracaibo Clasificado 65% couverture was named the best couverture by the Italian Pastry Academy. A pure Grand Cru Chocolate made of Criollo beans from Sur del Lago, Maracaibo, Venezuela. It has aromas of coffee and plum and notes of orange blossom, cinnamon and raisin. Read more!

chocGrandcru

2. Cru Sauvage 68%

Cru Sauvage made with 68% cocoa mass from wild cocoa beans come from the Amazon region of Beni, Bolivia. The substantial and harmonious cocoa flavors of the Cru Sauvage are well complemented with the freshness of the lemon and the fruitiness of the grapefruit. The traditional gentle processing method (60 hours conching) unfolds the intense dried prune bouquet and vanilla in its most exquisite way. The exceptionally pleasant fruit acidity and the long-lasting ending make the Cru Sauvage with its cocoa content of 68% a unique culinary experience. Read more!

Cru Sauvage

On October 30 Anne Prichard, Executive Director of the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) and FAB partner, spoke about the FAB Region, including the iCraftBrew website and application at the Municipal Agriculture Economic Forum.

With the headline of There’s an App for That – Using Technology to Support and Grow Businesses in Rural Ontario, Anne spoke about developing resources and apps to support the development of food and beverage (FAB) businesses in East Central Ontario.

 

Ontario’s artisan Food and Beverage (FAB) Region is a unique economic development partnership between the counties of Hastings, Prince Edward, Lennox & Addington and the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation with a goal of helping entrepreneurs ‘live their dream’ of operating an artisan food and beverage business.

On October 19, the MacKinnon Brothers Brewing Co. was announced the winner of the 2014 Fall Cask Festival, hosted by Red House.

The Fall Cask Festival hosted eleven Ontario craft breweries. All voting took place by patrons in attendance at the event. The winner of the Fall Cask Festival were as follows:

1st Place: MacKinnon Brothers, Honey Fermented English Pale Ale
2nd Place: Amsterdam Brewery, Downtown Brown Ale
3rd Place: Stone City Ales, Ships in the Night Oatmeal Stout

 

The MacKinnon Brothers Brewery Co. is located in Bath, Ontario, which is apart of the County of Lennox & Addington, a partner of the Food and Beverage (FAB) Region.

Entrepreneurs Devin and Leslie Huffman will soon be building what’s considered to be Ontario’s first micro malt house.  To be situated in Hastings County, just North of Belleville, the business will be known as Barn Owl Malt.

According to a story by Jerome Lessard printed in the Belleville Intelligencer, the Huffmans say, “We aim to be in production with a one-tonne capacity by the mid, late summer”.  The Intelligencer also notes that the business will use a three-step process of steeping (wetting), germinating (sprouting) and kilning (drying) to produce a base grain product used in the production of beer.

This is exciting news for the brewing industry as the Huffman’s will provide brewers with malted grains made right here in Ontario’s Food and Beverage (FAB) Region.

If you would like to invest in this FAB Region as well, contact us today!