While pick-your-own berry and apple farms are always a sweet treat, Ontario also has its fair share of unique farms worth visiting. In fact, Ontario farms offer everything from the hottest peppers on earth, to the opportunity to bond with rescued farm animals.
Here are six of the province’s unusual farms worth checking out this summer.
The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada
A short drive from Guelph, this 100-acre farm is the “forever” home to nearly 75 donkeys, hinnies, and mules, many of which have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. You can walk right into the paddock areas to be nuzzled by these lovable equines, or to brush their coats. Open Sundays from May to October, and Wednesday during school holidays. Entry is free, but donations are encouraged.
Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery
A historic farm near Norfolk, Bonnieheath Estate produced tobacco for nearly half a century, but today its choice crop is much more soothing—lavender. While a range of products are available—from body scrubs to jellies—the farm also produces wine and hard cider. Both guided walking tours and wagon tours are available, but they must be booked in advanced.
At White Rock, you can feed redneck, blueneck, and African black ostriches. Of course, since this is a working farm, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase meat during your visit, including ostrich burgers, sausage, and steak. Tip: If you visit after July 25, you’ll have a chance to view ostrich chicks that are as young as one day old.
This Ottawa-area farm produces over 600 varieties of fruits and vegetables, but they’re not all your standard supermarket fare. As you walk through the greenhouse, keep an eye out for not one, but two varieties of ghost peppers, the hottest peppers in the world. In addition to a pick-your-own area, their garden market is open year-round, seven days a week.
Bison are easy to come by in Canada—but buffalo are a little trickier. The Ontario Water Buffalo Company is home to one of two milking water buffalo herds in the country. Around 300 water buffalo live on Martin Littkemann and Lori Smith’s family farm in Stirling, Ontario, where their milk is used to produce cheese and soap. Their store is open daily, but call ahead to arrange a tour of the property.
Mennonite Farm Tours
Tour the mixed-operation Mennonite farms surrounding St. Jacobs by horse-drawn carriage, where you’ll walk through apple orchards and learn more about maple syrup production. Learn about the history, religion, customs, and farming practices of the Old Order Mennonites, who farm using traditional practices and have been in the area since the late 18th century. Tours run every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the summer months.