The first week of October marks the beginning of Ontario Agriculture Week. As growers and producers are well into the fall harvest season, it’s a great time to showcase and spotlight the many growers and producers in The Blue Mountains that enrich the community and contribute to the economy.
The Blue Mountains serves home to one of the largest apple-growing regions in Ontario. Between the winds of Georgian Bay and the elevation of the Niagara Escarpment, the microclimate is ideal for the orchards that call The Blue Mountains home. The fabric of this community was built from their tree-lined land almost two centuries ago. The first orchard dates back to the 1830’s and consisted of just two acres, established by the McGuire family. By the 1870’s, apple orchards accounted for more than 400 acres of The Blue Mountains. Today, it has grown to 7,500 acres at more than a dozen orchards and cideries!
Many local orchards began - and remain - as a family business, with multiple generations of farming. Prior to technological advancements, apple harvesting was an operation that required all hands - young and old - on deck. Since then, the density of trees per acre has increased, new varieties have been introduced and technology and automation have been brought on board to increase efficiencies. The one thing that has remained? The fruit is as fresh, crisp and flavourful as ever.
Today, more than 2 million bushels of apples are harvested annually in The Blue Mountains. The by-products of the fruit have evolved over the years too, most recently with several cideries opting to ferment the fruit for alcoholic cider. The region is home to a vast range of cideries, all offering a unique flavour and tasting experience, many of which are available at restaurants, bars and the LCBO. To learn more about cideries in the area, explore Visit Grey’s listing online and start planning your outing today!
A visit to The Blue Mountains would be incomplete without taking a bite out of the fruit that put the Town on the map. There are 18 different varieties of apples grown and harvested in this region, each having their own very distinct flavour profiles – from acidic to sweet, with varying colours, shapes and sizes. Any way you slice it, apples are always a fit for baked goods, sauce, cider or eaten straight from the tree.
The best way to experience apple country is on a journey along The Apple Pie Trail. This self-guided tour showcases local culinary delights, apple art and culture, outdoor adventure and of course, plenty of taste-testing opportunities along the way.
You can also tune into the premiere date of the Craigleith Heritage Depot’s latest short film, Apple Harvest, to explore the deep and rich history of the apple and The Blue Mountains’ apple growers. The virtual launch event will be held on Friday, October 8, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. and offers a prime opportunity to delve into the fall harvest season this Thanksgiving weekend.
Looking to learn more before the film’s launch? Explore the history of apple orchards in The Blue Mountains through the Craigleith Depot’s previous short film, The Apple Industry.