Finding an outdoor activity during the winter can be challenging. Lately our Winter days have looked more like Autumn and without snow, some of our favourite distractions wither away.
We have been meaning to pay a visit to White Meadows Farms for some time now. This past week we took advantage of some time off and spent a blissful day wandering their grounds and indulging in some fantastic treats.
From November to January, White Meadows Farms labours away preparing for the Spring. Once January hits, the grounds are a flurry of activity as their sugaring season starts and continues until April. The property showcases many activities and entertainment possibilities. You can purchase food from the Maple Sweet Shop or dine-in at their Maple Lodge. Outdoor adventure can be had on their Sugar Bush Adventure or Toboggan Hill and Skating Rink (weather dependent).
The Maple Lodge offers a cafeteria-inspired menu where, upon ordering, you have your food on your tray within moments. This is where the cafeteria similarity ends, however. Menu items like Niagara’s Gold, made with local peaches, offer up a delight for any scrutinizing palate. Each table is adorned with a large pitcher of White Meadows Farms fresh syrup, an elegant touch I truly appreciated (being a syrup-lover myself).
We grabbed breakfast at the start but I might eat last next time. My pancake belly started begging for a nap after awhile!
At the heart of White Meadows Farms, you’ll find maple syrup. They approach this concept a little differently by choosing to educate the public in the process with their Sugar Bush Adventure; a journey through time revealing the history of maple syrup. They also offer school tours and can work within the Ontario school curriculum.
I enjoy partaking in learning adventures as I believe they are the superior way to absorb knowledge. If my high school history class had adopted this method I might not have to rely so heavily on the internet today!
Our adventure began by piling into the Sugar Shuttle, a hay-filled tractor shuttle, and we were whisked off to a magical maple land (okay, it was across the street but still a fun, rustic ride).
The Sugar Bush Adventure is a self-guided tour throughout their forest grounds. The trails are dotted with interesting signs on the types of trees that cover the property and a large display discussing the different animals that make White Meadows Farms their home.
As we strolled along the trail, costumed re-enactors were inviting us to peek into the past. Each section covered a different part of history and how their people approached the process of sap collection and boiling.
Our first stop was the native tent where the process was rudimentary and, to be honest, kind of gross. As history progresses along the trail so does the approach to sap boiling. From cauldrons to eventually buckets, we learned how and why these methods were employed at the time. Also discussed were the hardships and trials these people had to endure along the way.
Present day sap collection has left behind buckets and has evolved into a permanent tubing system. This method is employed throughout White Meadows Farms and is really fascinating to watch. Creeping close to the system you can actually see the sap along the tubes.
The Sugar Bush Adventure isn’t just about information; the experience covers a wide range of activities. You can get your face painted, try your hand at sawing, roast a hot dog over open flames, snack on some maple treats, and even work your way through a maze. There are a variety of activities sure to please all ages!
Before we left, we visited the Maple Sweet Shop to see what goodies they had for sale. Not just limited to syrup, White Meadows Farms sells a variety of products including food items like farm fresh eggs, popcorn, and pancake mix to material products like souvenirs and spiles.
It should be emphasized that the re-enactors were top-notch. Friendly, open for questions, and interactive, these people were a delight to spend time with. In fact, every conversation and question to the White Meadows Farms’ staff were met with quality, knowledge, and passion.
A warm and welcoming family atmosphere is their ultimate goal and, boy, do they pull it off.
We recommend you visit before they close for the season! Dates are different for each activity so please see below for the details.
White Meadows Farms
Open every weekend from Jan. 12 – Apr. 14, 2013
Including Family Day (Feb. 18), Good Friday (Mar. 29) and daily during March Break (Mar. 11-15)
Hours: Pancakes hit the griddle at 8:30am. Kitchen closes at 3:30pm
Sugar Bush Adventure
Open every weekend from Feb. 9 – Mar. 30, 2013.
Including Family Day (Feb. 18), Good Friday (Mar. 29) and all week long during March Break (Mar. 11-15)
Hours: First Shuttle at 9:30 am, last shuttle at 3:30 pm.
When: Saturday April 13, 2013
Times: 5 and under 9:30am – 10:30am, 6-10 years 10:30am – 11:30am