Travel & Culture » Ontario

Bring Your Appetite to Stratford

Nestled in the agricultural heartland of southern Ontario, Stratford and the surrounding Perth County is a locavore’s paradise

If you’re a fan of buying locally produced food, then Stratford is your 100-mile-diet dream.

A trip in the fall means the 100-miler will have plenty of options: Orchard fruits of various types, Niagara wines, loads of locally crafted beers and just about every type of vegetable grown in southern Ontario are on offer. And while the region is the province’s pork production capital, you can get everything from Great Lakes fish to lamb, beef and even emu.

All of that local fare is reflected in the area’s restaurant dishes. Many of the better local establishments have developed 100-Mile Menus, offering some unique pairings for locavores of all leanings.

Here’s a quick overview of Perth County’s agriculture industry, which has been feeding southern Ontario—and beyond—for more than 150 years:
• Perth County’s agri-food sector generates $1.5 million to $2 million per day.
• There are 2,438 registered farms, cultivating or using nearly 500,000 acres of arable land.
• In 2006, farm receipts totalled $558.5 million.
• Look for asparagus in the spring, strawberries in July, orchard fruits in the fall and a huge selection of breads and cheeses at any time.

One of the best spots for fresh produce is the Stratford Farmer’s Market at the Stratford Agriplex on McCarthy Road. First opened in 1855, the market operates every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon. Here, you can stock up on what’s in season and visit with the farmer who grew it, raised it, made it or a combination of all three.

The region is also home to specialty events like the Stratford Garlic Festival, which offers flavourful food and fun and helps the local Kiwanis Club raise funds for community projects. If you’re in Stratford on September 10 or 11, 2016, drop by. You might want to pack a few breath mints….

When it comes to food, Stratford brings together all of the elements needed for a feast: well-established local agriculture; the Stratford Chefs School, which has trained and mentored international-calibre cooks; and a lot of folks who, quite simply, love food. Whether you’re looking to lounge over a latté at Balzac’s or you have your sights set on a Four Diamond dining experience at The Church, you won’t lack for options. And you won’t be disappointed.