The Saanen goats at Milner Valley Cheese are not only inquisitve and friendly, but produce some amazing cheese available for purchase at the family owned and operated farm
Interested in seeing how a real farm works? Try one of the five Lower Mainland Circle Farm Tours highlighting producers and their delicious wares
I have a real soft spot for farm animals, and I also love food, so I wanted to try the Langley Circle Farm Tour to visit with some of Langley's adorable four-legged friends and sample some farm-fresh products.
There are 15 stops on the tour, only an hour drive from downtown Vancouver, and you can visit as many as you like at your own pace. We visited 10 and got to learn how many of the operations run, plus we had our fill of mouthwatering food and drink.
Fort Langley National Historic Site
First we had a history lesson when we stopped at Fort Langley National Historic Site, built along the south shore of the Fraser River, and established by The Hudson's Bay Company in 1827.
There are a number of buildings to explore at the site including the blacksmith shop, the depot, where you’ll find tasty homemade treats at The Full Barrel Café, and the Big House (pictured above), where we listened to an interpretive presentation about the history of the site.
Aldor Acres Dairy Centre
Next we visited Aldor Acres Dairy Centre, which was the highlight for me. This is a working dairy farm that also has a large educational component, with regular tours for the public. The area where the cows are milked has been turned into an indoor amphitheatre, so guests can sit comfortably while they learn about Aldor’s cows and milking technologies.
We each got a turn at milking Rosie (pictured above), the most cooperative and docile cow I’ve ever met, and then went outside to meet her peers and give them a handful of hay.
The Fort Wine Company
Then it was time to whet our whistle at The Fort Wine Company, which makes table and dessert fruit wines like raspberry, blueberry, apple, and their specialty, cranberry. They were all really tasty (my favourite was the apple dessert wine), and we got to see where and how they were made.
The Fort Wine Company is also the demonstration farm for the Cranberry Festival, so we stepped out back to see where the fruit is produced and learned that the beds they’re grown in are only flooded during harvest; the rest of the year they are dry.
Cedar Rim Nursery
We were greeted by the owner and two daughters at Cedar Rim Nursery, which sits on 30 acres and has a 125,000-square-foot indoor gardening centre. If you've got a green thumb you could get lost for hours at this place, walking around the property in search of everything you’d need to transform your home’s outdoor space, like trees, shrubs, and supplies for fountains and ponds, as well as houseplants and accessories to brighten up your indoor space too.
Milner Valley Cheese
It’s hard to tell whether it was the mouthwatering cheeses or the floppy-eared Nubian and inquisitive Saanen goats (pictured above) that stole the show at Milner Valley Cheese, a fifth-generation family farm whose small herd of goats produces all of the milk used to make their delicious cheeses. After admiring the animals we sampled their products - both hard and soft natural, handcrafted cheeses including Jack, aged, feta, chevre, curds, and Colby.
Vista D’Oro Farms & Winery Lunch
When we visited Vista D’Oro Farms and Winery their friends from Domaine de Chaberton Winery and Bacchus Bistro, Langley Community Farmers Market, and JD Farms Specialty Turkey Store (all part of the Langley Circle Farm Tour) joined them to host an incredible lunch. Our spread featured items from Vista D’Oro’s picnic menu, including a selection from its seasonal line of artisanal preserves (the green tomato with garam masala is phenomenal) and a selection of its wines; a selection of wines from Domaine de Chaberton; a gorgeous salad (pictured above) from Langley Community Farmers Market; and a selection of natural turkey sausages from JD Farms Specialty Turkey Store.
Kensington Prairie Farm
After lunch we visited Kensington Prairie Farm. Due to inclement weather we weren’t able to see any of its alpacas, but owner Catherine Simpson took us into the workshop where bags and bags of alpaca fleece awaited transformation into socks, scarves or sweaters, or shipment to international customers. We learned that the fibres are sorted by their thickness, the finest of which are the most prized. The farm breeds, raises and shows Huacaya alpacas and retails natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free alpaca meat.
Erikson’s Daylily Gardens
The rainy weather continued as we arrived at Erikson’s Daylily Gardens, so owner Pam Erikson hopped aboard our bus to give us the 411 on her labour of love, and encouraged us to come back on a drier day, as a walk through the unique gardens is the best way to experience the over 3,000 types of daylilies – which aren’t found anywhere else in the world and draw an international clientele – and other perennials on display.
Thunderbird Show Park
Thunderbird Show Park is an enormous equestrian complex that was recently named the second best facility of its kind on the continent. It hosts numerous events like international show jumping tournaments, dressage competitions, and even carriage driving trials. It's set on 85 acres and built to be a family-friendly locale with food vendors, shops and lots of entertainment available on site.
Driediger Farms Market
We tried the best strawberries at Driediger Farms Market – freshly picked, sweet and juicy. All kinds of BC berries are available at Driediger’s, which you can pick yourself or pick up from its retail store. Homemade pies, jams and other local produce are also available for purchase.
If a day on the farm isn't quite enough you can plan a weekend getaway – check out the Circle Farm Tour website for nearby accommodations for each of the regional tours.