Tales from York: Visiting the Farm Fields of the Greenbelt

Nathan McCosker, farm manager at Clearwater Farm, planting the farm's first crop 

Tales from York is a blog series focused on the people and places that make York's Greenbelt great. The series will cover everything from local businesses, to seasonal events, to life on York farms. Look out for our upcoming posts to stay up-to-date and informed on exciting going-ons in York's Greenbelt. 


At 43% of its total area, agriculture is the Greenbelt's number #1 land use. To really get to know the Greenbelt then, you've got to get to know a Greenbelt farm. 

It's lucky then that so many Greenbelt farms offer the "farm tours" and educational outreach programs that take you through the production process. The tours are a great opportunity to see and understand how the food on your table is grown and harvested. And, as I learned recently, they can also teach you about the kinds of innovative farming practices happening in Ontario's Greenbelt. 

I recently toured a very young farm on a very old property. Clearwater Farm, located along Lake Simcoe in Georgina, is a space for community farming and training based on low till farming and permaculture principles. Permaculture is an agricultural system that mimics the patterns and relationships naturally found in the ecosystem.  At Clearwater Farm newly designed vegetable patches on raised beds sprout a variety of goods amongst a mosaic of plants. The raised beds, mixed with hay and plants, naturally sink carbon and hold the soil structure together!  This type of farming can achieve great ecological goals - using less pesticidse and water - while growing tasty foods, locally.  

I learned about future plans featuring silviculture - silviculture is the science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, and quality of forest vegetation for the full range of forest resource objectives. Nathan McCosker,  the farm manager of Clearwater Farm explained his plans for an orchard filled with conventional fruit trees and native species, and rehabilitating the land by using pigs and goats to clear overgrowth!  This farm is just beginning its journey.  Stay tuned for news about more events in the future.

I was so energized my first farm visit I put some resources for finding other farm tours to check out. So if you’re looking for something to do on a sunny morning in York Region take a drive or hop on the Greenbelt Route and visit a  local farm to see fresh produce before it reaches the market (just make sure they're okay with visitors!) 

There are many different farms you can visit in York Region. Find one close to home on Ontariofresh.ca and find a farm you can visit. Take your pick!

Are you curious about milk? Or cows? 

Look out for open farm days by Milk the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. You can visit a local dairy farm in your area. Check out the site for updates.  

Do you want to pick your own berries?

Come pick your own berries at Whittamore’s Farm in Markham. Hang out in the fields, grab a handful of berries and enjoy the view! You can drop by the Farm Shop and collect some fresh picked potatoes and peas or enjoy some freshly baked pies. There are lot of activities for kids too! Hop on the wagon for a ride, slide down the turbo slide or climb into the two-story tree fort!

There’s a Winery in York Region?

Yes there is! Applewood Farm has just completed their strawberry picking season, but you can still visit the winery. The farm offers group tours and wine tasting upon request. Currently, they are featuring their new “Apple Jack” perfect for lounging by a fire. Apple picking is also available in the fall. 


--Communications Assistant, York Region

Love buying local? Stayed tuned for the upcoming re-launch of greenbeltfresh.ca - a quick and easy way to find fresh local food for you and your family grown in Ontario's protected Greenbelt.  

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