October was a great month to enjoy the Greenbelt with your kids. Over the past several weeks, Greenbelt staff members Allison Decker and Elissa Hermolin have been taking their respective sons, Harrison – age 3, and Hayden – age 4, to a plethora of Greenbelt farms to enjoy some amazing fall activities.
Trip 1 – Coopers CSA, Uxbridge http://coopersfarm.ca/index.html
It was Thanksgiving when Hayden and I went to Coopers CSA where their famous 10-acre corn maze was the main attraction at their fall festival. My favourite part however, was the hay ride complete with a personal tour by owner and farmer Steve Cooper. Steve took the group into the fields and explained how the farm works, what Community Supported Agriculture is and shared tricks on how they safely try to keep animals out of the fields.
One of the greatest things about Coopers, as Steve explained, is the activities they have for kids that really simulate the kinds of games kids who grow up on farms create. Rather than a sand box, they have a huge corn box where kids can go down slides and land in the corn, fill up buckets and roll trucks over it. There are long pipes that you can talk into to someone on the other end. There are huge bales of hay to climb and jump off of. And of course the huge corn maze (which had a Toronto Maple Leafs theme this year). Before we left we picked a few pumpkins from the pumpkin patch and headed home to make soup.
Trip 2 – Brooks Farms, Mount Albert http://www.brooksfarms.com/
On the way home from Coopers, Hayden saw Brooks farm and remembered how amazing it was from the previous year so we made a plan and heading there the following weekend. Brooks is a family farm which is been, as their tag line says, “Growing fun for over 100 years!”. Brooks takes their fall festival very seriously, it feels like you’re in an amusement park, and at times you have to remind yourself that it’s still a functioning farm.
At Brooks, they have a wagon ride, of course, but theirs is a pulled by a tractor that looks like a train engine. They have a pirate ship playground, these amazing zip lines, corn cannons, pig races and a corn maze. They also have created this whole back story about how aliens came to the farm and you can see the spot where the meteor landed and see a show where they show you how they make more aliens (which you can then adopt at the gift shop). Hayden’s highlight of Brooks is the zombie cage complete with chains and roaring zombie sounds coming from inside. Occasionally the cage rattles and all the kids jump back.
Trip 3 – Whittamore’s Farms, Markham http://www.whittamoresfarm.com/
Harrison was very excited by the prospect of a visit to pick some pumpkins at Whittamore’s Farm and in spite of it being a wet day there was still lots to see and do. Luckily he was wearing his rain pants as it made it easy to keep him dry while he “drove” the old tractor in the centre of the sand pit and splashed through puddles while racing around the peddle-tractors track.
Unfortunately due to the rain the farm bouncer activity was closed, and the pumpkin cannon was cancelled for the day (but we did see some dented minivans that had obviously been fired upon!) but because of that, the good folks at Whittamore’s only charged us the weekday rate for admission instead of the slightly higher weekend fee. We were still able to see the singing animatronics chickens and the fox in their henhouse (Harrison loved their songs!), have a long wagon ride around the farm and through a spooky wood, and play in a treehouse and a combine play structure – both with excellent slides! There was also a corn maze and some barnyard animals to say hi to.
We finished off the day by coming home with three pumpkins and some delicious honey crisp apples and of course, a big pumpkin pie. Of course, with the size of the pumpkins that we brought home, I think I’m going to have to learn how to make my own pumpkin pie and a lot of other pumpkin dishes too!
-- Elissa Hermolin, Special Events Manager & Allison Decker, Communications Manager