There are two camps of grocery shoppers: those who hate the task and those who actually don’t mind or may even enjoy doing it. Unfortunately, even those of us who don’t dread going out for groceries have been challenged to find pleasure in trips to the supermarket over the course of the pandemic. If months of retail roadblocks like longer lineups, shortages, and “creative” substitutions in online orders have squeezed every ounce of pleasure from your weekly shop, it’s time to shake up your grocery game.
Instead of battling the aisles at your go-to grocery store, set aside an afternoon to turn your next shop into a leisurely Home Chef Stock Up. Trading one trip to the supermarket for a scenic drive with a variety of stops where you can purchase the pick of the crop and meet local producers while you’re at isn’t just a fun way to spend a few hours. You’ll also end up with a trunk full of local treasures and farm-to-table flavours that will take your meals to the next level.
To plan your trip, choose a farm stand, farmer’s market, or other food or beverage producer within Ontario’s Southwest that you know you want to visit and do a little research to see what’s within an hour’s radius of that stop. Then, create your itinerary of stock-up stops you want to visit on your travels. To get you started, we’ve gathered inspiration by category below.
Regional Farmer’s Markets
Our website’s searchable database provides details for the fantastic collection of regional farmer’s markets taking place throughout Ontario’s Southwest, including:
Covent Garden Market and The Market Western Fair District, London
- Lambton Shores Farmers’ Markets, Grand Bend
- Harvests of Haldimand Markets, Caledonia, Dunnville and Hagersville
- Sarnia Farmers Market
- Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market
- Strathroy Farmers Market
- Horton Farmers Market, St.Thomas
- Wallaceburg Farmers' Market
Independent Farm Stores, Stands and Pick-Your-Own Produce
To get a better sense of what’s in store when you visit our region’s independent farm stores and stands, check out these video profiles from Apple Land Station and Slegers Organic Greens. Other area best bets include:
- Lee and Maria’s On-Farm Market, Kingsville
- Sarah’s Farm Markets, Chatham
- DeBackere Farm Market, Union
- The Cider Keg, Vittoria
- Kustermans Berry Farm Market, Mount Brydges
- Great Lakes Farms, Port Stanley
- Thiessen Orchards, Leamington
- Wagner Orchards, Lakeshore
- Thames River Melons Farm Market, Innerkip
- Kent Creek Orchard, Hillcrest
- Meadow Lynn Market Garden, Simcoe
- Heemans, London
- Matz Fruit Barn, Port Dover
- Bre’s Fresh Market, Tillsonburg
- Richardson’s Farm and Market, Dunnville
There are so many cheese producers in our region that we’re home to our very own 24-stop Cheese Trail! Whether you choose to cruise the entire Oxford County Cheese Trail or just make a few delicious stock-up stocks, you’ll get a sense of the passion our producers have for their craft. Get a sneak peek with this video profile of Gunn’s Hill Cheese.
Other stops to consider adding to your trip include:
- Great Lakes Goat Dairy, Wyoming
- The Dover Cheese Shop, Port Dover
- Jensen Cheese, Simcoe
- The Second Mouse Cheesetique, Delhi
- All ‘Bout Cheese, London
- Galati Cheese, Windsor
Honey, Syrup, Jams and Baking Supplies
Whether you’re looking for something to spread on your toast or stir into home baking, you’ll love the taste of the fabulous ingredients you’ll find in Ontario’s Southwest. Here’s a video preview of the sweetness that awaits at Munro Honey and Meadery and Richardson’s Farm & Market.
Other sweet stops include:
- Jakeman’s Maple Syrup, Beachville
- Chambers Pure Maple Products, Waterford
- Clovermead, Aylmer
- Country Rose Preserves, Windsor
- Berrylicious Fruit Farm, Burgessville
- Urban Wheel at Sundown Farms, Tilsonburg
- Arva Flour Mill, Arva
Be forewarned: picking up freshly cured and cut meats from local butcher shops and farms may forever ruin the grocery store meat department for you! Here are some local butcher best bets:
- VG Meats, Simcoe
- B.J.’s Country Market, Delaware
- Butcher of Kingsville, Kingsville
- Wally Parr Sausage, Caledonia
- Roesch Meats, Kent Bridge
- Townsend Butchers Inc., Simcoe
- Uptown Meats & Deli, Harrow
Coffee and Tea
Prepare to skip the drive-through forever once you’ve brewed up a hot beverage at home from these local producers. This video showcasing The New New Age (online shopping only at this time) offers just a taste of the kind of passion that sets our area businesses apart.
Other great stops for the very best of beans and tasty teas include:
- Early Bird Coffee, Woodstock
- Blackwater Coffee Co., Sarnia
- The Urban Parisian, Port Dover
- Las Chicas Del Café, St. Thomas
- Wildflower Teas, St. Thomas
- Fire Roasted Coffee Co., London
Touring along the Windsor Essex Coffee Trail’s nine tasty stops
For additional caffeine cues, check out this blog post with more of our favourite stops.
If you’re looking for a beverage beyond coffee or tea, give a bottle of kombucha from one of our regional brewers a try:
Booch Organic Kombucha, London
- Kombucha Hound, Sarnia
- Culture Shock Kombucha, Grand Bend
Add In Some Extra Fun With A Few Perfect Pairings
As you complete your Home Chef Stock Up, be sure to chat with local vendors to get additional suggestions for their can’t-miss stops in the neighbourhood. For example:
- After your stop at Booch Organic Kombucha in London, be sure to swing by Nuts For Cheese for delicious plant-based cheeses.
- If you visit Jensen Cheese, a fresh loaf from The Good Bread Company in Vittoria is a must!
- If you pick up fresh-cut rib eye steaks from Uptown Meats and Deli, a bottle of Viewpoint Surfside Syrah Cabernet is a must-try match.
- If you take home some goat cheese from Great Lakes Goat Dairy, swing by Alton Farms Estate Winery and ask the friendly winery staff there for a pairing suggestion.
- If The Dover Cheese Shop is on your itinerary, zip into Burning Kiln Winery for some wines to complement your purchase.
- If you pick up some Handeck cheese from Gunn’s Hill, pick up a few cans of Upper Thames Brewing’s Take A Hike Double Dry Hopped Ale for a truly delicious duo.
We’d love to hear your favourite Ontario’s Southwest Home Chef Stock Up stops and perfect pairings! Share pictures of your foodie finds on social using #OSWPerfectPairings.