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

Wallaceburg Farmers' Market Park's Blueberries 610 by 400

 

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

The Cider Keg 610 by 400

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

 

Cheese Producers

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.

Gunns Hill Cheese 610 by 400

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

Clovermead 610 by 400

Country Rose Preserves, Windsor

Berrylicious Fruit Farm, Burgessville

Urban Wheel at Sundown Farms, Tilsonburg

Arva Flour Mill, Arva

 

Butchers

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 610 by 400

Kombucha Hound, Sarnia

Culture Shock Kombucha, Grand Bend

 

The Good Bread Company shopping 610 by 400

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:


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.


To learn more about what you can expect when exploring in Ontario’s Southwest and how businesses are trying to keep you safe and following government guidelines, click here.