As she showed us some of the more than 250 varieties of fruits and vegetables she grows, the group learned that Ann’s work at Simpler Thyme was a labour of love. When she moved out to the Freelton area from downtown Hamilton 25 years ago, she didn’t plan on farming, she explained. Now, she has volunteers from across the world who are there helping her grow and harvest.
First, she talked with us about concerns facing farmers in Ontario, as well as her efforts to eat a completely local diet. She then led us through her garden, where she challenged us to identify the various plants. With the help of one member of Neighbour to Neighbour, she even discovered a new variety in her garden. Then, in the forested half of the 50-acre farm, she described the hard work that goes into harvesting maple syrup from the trees in a traditional and sustainable way.
At the greenhouse of Bill Orosz, who owns half of Simpler Thyme, Ann showed us the various natural methods (from thick plastic to geothermal technologies) that the building uses to simulate a warmer climate. In the greenhouse, Bill has grown bananas, papayas and other tropical fruits. We then stopped by to see Ann’s pigs and chickens before heading back to her home for refreshments and market shopping.
The adventure with Neighbour to Neighbour is one of five trips for Hamilton community centres that Hamilton Eat Local is helping to organize this summer and fall. Be sure to get your tickets for Hamilton Eat Local's Rural Routes tours, which are open to the public.