It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! —Mark Twain
It’s spring, finally. After a winter that seemed like it wouldn’t quit, the birds are singing and gardens are growing. I don’t know about you, but spring gives me seriously itchy feet. I want to explore. I want to smell fresh air. I want to taste spring flavours and see spring sights. I want to head out to the country and see baby animals running through fields of grass. Heck, I want to see my own little city kid running through fields of grass.
The answer, I’ve discovered, is to head off to the Fraser Valley for a Circle Farm Tour. There are a bunch of them, but the original is Agassiz–Harrison Mills. The idea was one that the farmers themselves came up with. They wanted a way to share their bounty with us city people and realized the best way to do it was to band together and invite us to visit. The result is a self-guided farm tour that takes you through an active farming community filled with people who have great stories (and food!) to share.
So here’s what you do. Load up a car with as many friends as will fit (or hop on your bike), head out to Agassiz, then choose your destinations from the map.
Make sure you’re hungry and your fridge is on the empty side—there will be plenty to sample and the souvenirs are yummy.
This family farm is all about the nut. They grow, process and sell hazelnuts—including a chocolate spread that has ruined us for Nutella forever. Visitors are welcome to explore the orchard and there is U-pick during October and November.
The cheese curds are squeaky, the artisan cheeses are award winning and Debra, the cheese maker, was recently inducted into the prestigious French Cheese Guild, the "Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon." The cheeses are made on site from the milk of the family’s cows and goats. You can take a tour and sample the cheese or just buy some to eat as you explore the next farm.
This pretty farm was built in 1902. The hillside gardens are filled with heirloom tomatoes, garlic and herbs. This is the place to take cooking classes with guest chefs or just stop into the café for excellent tea and homemade bread.
While not currently a working farm, this tranquil site might be the region’s best kept secret. Visit the 1906 general store to see how life was 100 years ago, and then wander down to the beach for a picnic of all the great foods you found on your tour.
On your way, be sure to make time for a visit to Minter Gardens—a world-class show garden and garden centre with lots of interest to inspire the hobby gardener.
Fields of tulips in the Fraser Valley along the way