A farm in the Yukon

Great farming equals great food. Meet the 11 farmers featured in Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms.


Johnny Flynn, Prince Edward Island

Johnny Flynn is a farmer from Collville Bay. You might not have heard of him, but if you love raw oysters, you’ve probably had some from his farm, The Colville Bay Oyster Company, served at Canada’s finest oyster bars, Oyster Boy and Starfish in Toronto, and Catch in Calgary.


Cindy & Dale Parker, New Brunswick

Few people outside of the Maritimes have heard about Grand Manan’s Dark Harbour dulse, though it’s considered the finest in the world. But now the world is beating a path to the door of tiny Roland’s Sea Vegetables as health-food zealots discover the amazing health properties of the island’s seaweed.


Duncan Bates, Nova Scotia

Fishing scallops is so harmful to the ocean floor that the United Nations proposed a ban on the dredging practice. But Nova Scotia scallop farmer Duncan Bates cultivates the province’s favourite sea treats in a way that actually helps the ocean. And now the finest restaurants in Canada are discovering the guilt-free joy of eating whole farmed scallops, gonads attached.


Jennifer Caines, Newfoundland

Fifteen years after the ban on cod fishing, the cod are swarming off the south shore of Newfoundland once again, albeit on an experimental cod farm. The fillets that fish farmer Jennifer Caines raises are thick, flaky and delicious. So you have to wonder why money to start a commercial operation remains scarcer than wild cod.


Ian Smith, Manitoba

Ian Smith may be the only farmer in Manitoba to deliver a pig to the Lieutenant Governor’s mansion. He is also one of the first farmers to gain certification from the Winnipeg Humane Society for raising pork humanely. And his lucky customers will tell you that the tender-loving care makes all the difference to taste.


Cecil Werner, Saskatchewan

Instead of retiring, Saskatchewan farmer and businessman Cecil Werner decided to start a multi-million dollar flax roasting plant. Regina restaurants like Zest and The Willow on Wascana love cooking with the golden roasted seeds, and exports to Europe, Asia and the US are thriving. Now Werner’s late-in-life venture is setting a sterling example of what a new agricultural economy on the Prairies might look like.


The Producers of Diamond Willow, Alberta

A decade ago, several ranching families came to together to form an organic beef company, The Producers of Diamond Willow. Now their meat is selling across Canada and being served in Calgary’s finest restaurants, like The River Café. What’s good for this ranching business is also proving to be good for the threatened, ancient grasslands of Southern Alberta.


Heidi Marion & Garret Gillespi, Yukon

Heidi Marion and Garret Gillespie have endured their share of economic hardship, trying to farm in the Yukon. Now their customers are getting involved in surprising ways, forming a cooperative to help farmers stay on the land.


Sally & Wilfrid Mennell,
British Columbia

The Ambrosia apple grew up as a rogue seedling in a BC orchard. Lucky for us, that orchard belonged to Sally and Wilfrid Mennell who, against all odds, nurtured the Ambrosia into Canada’s hottest new apple variety.


Frédéric Poulin, Quebec

Few cheeses in Canada reveal terroir quite like Frédéric Poulin’s Tomme de Grosse Ile. The dairy farmer’s cows feed on the grass of the salt marshes that Quebec painter Riopelle made famous.


Speck Brothers, Ontario

As teenagers, the Speck brothers planted acres of vines while other farmers were pulling theirs out. They helped start a new industry many thought Free Trade would kill. Now their Henry of Pelham Winery makes one of the country’s finest icewines, called Canada’s little ambassador. And the Speck brothers are a shining example of what other artisanal farmers might achieve.