Food from our Farm
Food From Our Farms… And Food For Thought About Marketing
2024 marks the 18th year of featuring dairy products selected to help us “learn from lunch”. The products featured this year focus on the theme of “local food” and what it means to our market and the consumers who drive it. Dairy is a major contributor to the economy in the 13-county region that plans this program. This region produces more milk than any other part of Ontario, and there are more than 50 processors receiving raw milk from your farms. As illustrated below, “local” can mean many different things.
We salute Walker Farms Dairy for venturing into processing and retail two years ago with their “bottled on the farm” A2 milk. Their herd has been tested and selected to produce milk with this “more digestible” form of beta casein protein. It is sold in grocery and specialty stores in the region, and in their own retail outlet in Aylmer. For customers of Walker Dairy, “local” means quality assurance in knowing where it comes from, a smaller carbon footprint with less transportation and a stronger more sustainable community. Walker Dairy has donated single serve white and chocolate milk. Convenient for us, and an important market segment for all those meals and snacks consumed “on the go” and outside the home.
While the industry is more open to on farm processing today, we need to acknowledge the “pioneers” who first developed this market a dozen years ago. Eby Manor Dairy in Waterloo was the first in our region, starting in 2012 with A2 rich Guernsey milk in glass bottles. The brand preference for Guernsey milk they built still resonates with consumers today. We thank Eby Manor for donating coffee cream for our event and we acknowledge the support of Farm Credit Canada as our coffee sponsor. Turning coffee white is a multi million dollar undertaking and we need to offer consumers and the restaurant trade the products and relationships that will ensure most of that revenue goes to real dairy cream and milk.
Large processors often claim that developing new products is too expensive. But “local” “family run” businesses have a passion for what they do, and that stimulates innovation. Mountainoak Cheese in New Hamburg was among the first to tackle on farm cheese making eleven years ago. Today their Farmstead Mild Gouda is the reigning Grand Champion Cheese of the Royal Winter Fair, and their wide range of flavoured Gouda style cheeses are sold across the province in speciality cheese shops, grocery stores, and in their on-farm store. They keep innovating with more cheese varieties and Quark, which we are sampling today. This creamy fresh cheese, available in Plain, Maple Syrup, Blueberry & Strawberry flavours, is low in sugar and gaining in popularity as a healthy dessert. Dairy desserts have not seen a lot of innovation or growth, so Quark is a welcome healthy, local addition to this category.
One goal of “Food From Our Farms” is to remind us that we need to work with processors and retailers to grow markets. While the dairies that receive milk are easy to identify, secondary processors can be easily overlooked. Shep’s Bakeries in Norwich is an innovative local company in that category. They have seen phenomenal market growth for their Dutch syrup waffles or “Stroopwafels” sold under their own “DoubleDutch” brand and co-packed under other labels and sold in stores across North America. Once just a familiar snack for local Dutch immigrants, these waffles have gained a following as energy food for athletes. But what does all this have to do with dairy? Shep’s has combined their waffles with high quality Canadian sourced ice cream into “ice cream waffles”. Currently these are sold locally and co-packed for special events. They are working on market development in both Canada and the US, making this a rare example of a high value Canadian dairy product exported south of the border. DeDell Seeds, who offer high sugar silage varieties they call “dessert for cows” offer a co-packed version of the ice cream waffle at our symposium and have subsidized the donation from Shep’s. Both co-packing and secondary processing illustrate some of the complexities of our supply chain. As a single serve ice cream novelty, ice cream waffles have potential for convenience and out of home consumption but no doubt distribution of a new frozen product into that market comes with huge challenges.
With Mark Taylor, President & CEO of Lactalis Canada Inc., as our keynote speaker, it is fitting that we offer at least one Lactalis product on our menu. As the world’s largest dairy processor with 85,000 employees, 270 operational facilities and a presence in more than 50 countries, Lactalis is anything but local. But with their Canadian headquarters in Toronto, processing plants in Mitchell and Niagara, and a research lab in London, they are a big presence locally. We thank them for providing single serve Black Diamond cheese sticks for you to sample today.
“Made within 100 miles” is a common definition of “local” and if we apply that to cheese, there are more than 20 processors making a wide variety of cheeses local to Woodstock. Specialty cheeses, especially those produced by smaller family run companies, add variety and ethnic and cultural interest, along with all the other plusses ascribed to “local”. Seven local processors have donated cheese to our event. Quality Cheese in Vaughn is a long-established family owned business on the edge or our 100 mile limit. The Borgo family has made cheese in Canada since 1999 and in Italy for many years before that. Their high-quality Italian cheeses have had a big impact, especially in the Toronto area. Udder Way Artisan Cheese in Stoney Creek makes their unique cheeses by hand, based on old world recipes and a focus on excellent ingredients, patience, and attention to detail. While new customers usually connect with local processors on a personal level, on-line shopping offers the convenience of home delivery on future purchases. Two totally new cheese processors located right in Oxford County have also chosen to donate. New Galma Dairy can barely keep up with demand for their Gouda style cheeses since opening in December 2023 and they are well on their way to establishing a reputation for great quality. Golspie Dairy also opened in 2023 and until now they have focussed on fluid milk, which visitors to the farm can take home in their own containers from an automatic dispenser. Check their website to see their story about commitment to local, and sustainability of the family farm. Both on farm processors are featured on the “Oxford County Cheese Trail” which is a great example of agritourism creating connections with the consumers we serve.
Another cheese trail participant, Shep Ysselstein at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese was among the first to venture into processing and we thank him for his continued support of our event. Jensen Cheese in Simcoe has been making traditional Canadian cheese “locally” for 99 years and they have been strong supporters of our symposium. An even more established brand is Bright Cheese and Butter Company, celebrating 150 years in business this year and we salute them for reaching this milestone. Stonetown Artisan Cheese is celebrating an international win for their “Wildwood”, a handcrafted Alpine Cheese. Cheese as a gift is gaining a following and for Valentine’s Day, they have come up with heart shaped cheeses in a variety of gift boxes and baskets.
On the subject of cheese as a gift, your Dairy Symposium team wants to thank our speakers with a gift and we choose to give dairy. The 8 cheese baskets used as speaker gifts and for early bird draws are sponsored by Scotiabank and are provided by the cheese makers listed above. As dairy farmers who take pride in our industry, we need to give dairy as gifts at every opportunity.
VodKow, distilled in Almonte, Ontario is not local to the area but as the only “Canadian” dairy based product in the liquor stores, it is no doubt special to our industry. Vodkow is distilled from milk permeate, a low value byproduct that would otherwise go into animal feed. With Vodkow as the base, this company also makes a wide variety of excellent quality cream liqueurs using all Canadian cream.
Last but not least, we want to remind you that our farms produce other foods in addition to dairy products. This year we are serving veal on a bun to acknowledge the local veal producers, who we rely on to market bull calves and surplus heifer calves as premium quality veal products. Our veal purchase for lunch was subsidized by Highland Packers, a local family-owned supplier of quality meat products in Stoney Creek, and very much part of the “local food” tradition. We thank them for their contribution.
It is our hope that these products and the information presented about them will increase awareness and stimulate interest among producers in the marketing side of the industry. We salute these products and the companies behind them as opportunities to expand markets, add value and strengthen the industry. One important aspect of “local” is that promotion of these products happens in a different way then mainstream brands. Consumers interested in “local” respond to personal stories and word of mouth endorsements so as dairy producers we all have a big role to play in promoting the people and brands that are making this happen in southwestern Ontario today.
Jack Rodenburg, on behalf of the Planning Committee
564 Talbot St E, Aylmer, ON N5H 2W1 – 519-765-1230
With four generations of farming under their belt, the Walker family is tackling a new milk venture. In 2021, they completed the addition of an on-farm processing facility. As proud Canadian dairy farmers, the Walker family is committed to making the highest quality milk. From our farm to your family, we are giving Ontarians the freedom to enjoy milk again!
On our home farm, fresh milk comes straight from our A2 herd to our on-site processing facility. It is produced, processed, and packaged in less than 150 meters! This significantly shortens our supply chain, reduces carbon emissions, and improves the quality and purity of our milk since we have control every step of the way. Our products are local, fresh and made with the A2 proteins only!
Walker milk is available in stores throughout south western Ontario as well as in the Walker Dairy Bar. Next time you’re in Aylmer, visit our drive-thru or drop in to enjoy the outdoor seating area. The Dairy Bar features the best local products and grocery essentials, plus cold treats, hot coffee, and of course, our A2 Protein Milk for you to enjoy
3165 Huron Road, New Hamburg, ON N3A 3C3 – (519) 662-4967
Open Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm. Closed Sundaysand holidays.
Fresh Mountainoak milk made into high quality, all natural and award-winning Mountainoak Gouda cheese. Made with wholesome ingredients and a traditional Dutch recipe. Available in a variety of ages and flavours.
Pleased to offer MOUNTAINOAK QUARK at the Dairy Symposium.
Quark is a fresh cheese with a smooth, creamy & spreadable texture. It is known and loved by athletes for its high protein content. It can be topped with maple syrup, fresh fruit jam or just enjoyed plain. It is great in everything from lasagna to cheesecake.
Our Quark has no preservatives, no thickeners, no food dyes and no added sugar. We sweeten our Blueberry & Strawberry Quark with locally produced maple syrup. Plain Quark has three si simple ingredients: pasteurized whole milk, bacterial culture and rennet. A great source of protein, calcium, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Available in Plain, Maple Syrup, Blueberry & Strawberry.
813185 Baseline Road, Norwich, ON N0J1P0, (519) 468-3759
Arie Schep, the president of Schep’sBakeries had always dreamed of coming to Canada. After visiting Canada in 1983 he fell in love with the country on the spot and decided to move his family to Canada. He did not want to lose his Dutch touch and after much thought, decided to start baking stroopwafels (Syrup Waffle Cookies). In doing this, he could stay in touch with his Dutch roots by importing the best ingredients from Holland and at the same time bring this wonderful product to the North American people. What started out to be a small business of baking syrup waffles for small specialty stores, has over the years blossomed to the point of the waffle cookies being available in many of the larger retail stores in Canada and the exporting of hundreds of thousands of syrup waffles to the United States of America every year. Over the years, two of his sons (Peter and Jacco) have joined the business. Arie, with his wife and two sons, strive in delivering only the best waffle cookies to the Canadian and American people.
Combining the popular waffle with real Canadian ice cream to make a delicious ice cream waffle is a recent innovation that is gaining attention in the marketplace. Shep’s co-packs a lot of products for special events and fundraisers. The ice cream waffles featured at the symposium, “a great dessert for dairy farmers”, are labelled for DeDell Seeds “Dessert” corn hybrids, “a great dessert for dairy cows”.
Thank You to Farm Credit Canada
for sponsoring our coffee . . . . . .
and to Eby Manor for their10% coffee Cream.
Eby Manor A2 Golden Guernsey milk is produced on our local family farm in Waterloo, by 60 registered milking Guernsey cows. Our Guernsey milk and dairy products are 100% A2 which is non inflammatory, allowing many people with milk sensitivities to consume our products without any adverse effects. In order to keep up with demand, we also receive milk contributions from Mar-Ley Farms. Both our cows and Mar-Ley Farms cows have all tested 100% A2.
Our products are available directly from our farm at Eby’s Dairy Market, as well as over 200 stores troughout the Tri-City, GTA and surrounding areas. We also supply many local restaurants and cafés.
Weeby Place, Waterloo, 519-664-2560 email@example.com Open 10am-6pm, Monday-Saturday.
Thank You to these “Local” Artisan Cheese Companies for
providing the cheeses we are sampling today
111 Jevlan Drive, Vaughan, ON L4L 8C2, (905) 265 – 9991 firstname.lastname@example.org, Open Mon-Sat: 8:30 – 5:00
410 Regional Road #20, Hannon. Close to Terra green house, Hamilton, ON, (905) 906-4633, Udderwayartisancheese@gmail.com Open Tuesday to Friday 10:00 to 5:00 and Saturday 10:00 to 4:00
284059 Daniel Rd, Mount Elgin, ON N0J 1N0, (519) 852-3719 Open Friday and Saturday, 10:30 to 4:30 email@example.com
455259 45th Line, Woodstock, ON, N4S 7V7, (226) 888-4819 www.golspiedairy.ca Retail Store Hours: Thursday-Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00 Self-Serve Hours: Everyday from 10:00 to 8:00
445172 Gunns Hill Road, Woodstock, ON N4S 7V8, (519) 424-4024 firstname.lastname@example.org Open Monday to Saturday 9:00 to 5:00
37 Evergreen Hill Rd, Simcoe, ON N3Y 4L2, (519) 426-4523 email@example.com Open Monday to Friday 8:30 to 5:00
5021 Perth County Line 8, St. Marys, ON N4X 1C4, (519) 229-6856 firstname.lastname@example.org Open Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00 and Saturday 9:00 to 3:00
816503 County Rd 22 Bright, ON N0J 1J0 · (519) 454-4810 email@example.com Open Monday to Wednesday and Saturday 9:00 to 4:00, Thursday and Friday 9:00 to 6:00
VODKOW is a distillery located in Almonte ON. We make an award winning triple distilled vodka by repurposing unused milk sugars from the dairy process. Our carbon neutral vodka is used to power a line of “lactose free” cream liquors in the following flavours: coffee, maple, chocolate, classic cream, eggnog, London fog, mango sunrise, key lime and strawberry social. Less sugar, Canadian cream and better ingredients for a better tasting product than other cream liquors.
Black diamond cheese sticks offer the convenience of single serve packaging for school lunches and those on the go snacks and meals. They are available in Medium and Old Cheddar and Lactose Free and Marble and Lactose Free marble varieties.
Black Diamond is only one of many trusted dairy brands made by Lactalis, Canada. Beatrice and Lactantia milk, Lactantia butter, Astro, Iogo and Siggi’s yoghurt, and Balderson and Cracker Barrel cheese are others that play a major role on our dairy market.
Thank you to Highland Packers for their support in providing partial sponsorship for the veal on a bun served at the Dairy Symposium. This family business started by the DeJonge family in 1958 includes meat packing, as well as retail. It has a strong focus on local foods including the freshest meats and deli items, cheese and other dairy products and fruits, vegetables and baked goods.