Skills Building Farm Tours


  • Learn first hand from farmers who have been there, and have years of experience.
  • Meet other new farmers – you will learn from each other.
  • Get lots of great ideas for how to design your farm.
  • Learn what makes a farm successful, and what costly mistakes you should avoid.
  • Informal atmosphere creates plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
  • The focus topic allows you to concentrate on one important aspect of farming.

New this year – FarmStart announces new training partnership!

FarmStart and the Ecological Farmers of Ontario are exited to be partnering for the 2015 season of new farmer training workshops.   We are pleased to be offering our Skills Building Farm Tours, as well as many of our core learning experiences with the EFAO, which has a rich history of farmer to farmer training in this province.

You will find registration for FarmStart programs on the EFAO website.  As the EFAO is a member based organization, we do encourage you to consider joining!  Not only will you receive a discount on all training, but also a subscription to the bi-monthly Ecological Farming in Ontario newsletter and opportunities to connect with peers & mentors in this growing community of ecological farmers.

We are looking forward to another season of showcasing some of Ontario’s brightest farmers, and providing you an opportunity to develop your farming skills!  New tours and workshops to be announced soon!


2015 Tours


Getting into Grass Fed Beef – September 12

Growing Vegetables for Wholesale Markets – September 19

Crop Rotation on the Market Garden – October 4

On-Farm Value Added: From Fermentation to Festivals – November 15




Getting into Grass Fed Beef

Echo Valley Ranch is a family business dedicated to sustainable farming practices that preserve the soil and produce healthy food. Farmers Brad and Donna Martin raise their herd of cattle on pasture, and fresh air! The non-frightening approach they use when handling and moving their cattle, which includes the use of horses, has built a calm herd. The diet and quality of life the animals have is reflected in the high quality of the end product. Tender and packed with flavor, there is no doubt that grass fed beef is the way to go! During the tour Brad and Donna will share their experience and insights around getting into the business of grass fed beef, including breed considerations, herd management, farm set-up, marketing tips, tools and equipment needed.

When:   12 September 2015
Where:  Moorefield
Cost:  $40 member / $68 member family, $50 non-member / $85 non-member family/or 2 “pay-what-you-can” places, contact for more information.


Growing Vegetables for Wholesale Markets

The New Farm is a certified organic family farm located on the crest of the Niagara escarpment just west of the village of Creemore. Brent and Gillian focus on growing crops that are best suited to their microclimate: cut salad greens, heirloom potatoes, rainbow beets, and Japanese cucumbers. On this tour they will discuss the evolution of their farm from one growing a wide variety of crops to a more specialized, high-volume production for restaurants, retail stores and wholesale customers. You will learn about their production systems, equipment and infrastructure investments (ex: salad cleaning drums, large root washer), marketing and labour, and about the economics of running a profitable wholesale vegetable business.

When:   19 September 2015
Where:  Creemore
Cost:  $40 member / $68 member family, $50 non-member / $85 non-member family/or 2 “pay-what-you-can” places, contact for more information.


Crop Rotation on the Market Garden

Should you plant garlic after potatoes, carrots before cumcumbers? Come hear veteran farmer Ann Slater’s insights on planning your crop rotation and learn about the benefits that crop rotations can provide in terms of building soil health and managing weed and pest pressure. Ann grew up on a farm and started selling vegetables as a teenager in the 70s. Now with 30+ years experience marketing her produce through a CSA and at the St Mary’s Farmers Market, Ann has a lot of experience to share. Out of 6 acres of land she has 1.5 acres in intensive vegetable production, and she does all the labour herself! Her goal is to grow great tasting vegetables with care and concern for the environment and people. Ann also teaches many courses for the EFAO including their one on Market Garden Crop Rotation. She hopes to see more small-scale farms growing and producing food for their local communities across the region, and across the province.

When:   4 October 2015
Where:  Lakeside
Cost:  $40 member / $68 member family, $50 non-member / $85 non-member family/or 2 “pay-what-you-can” places, contact for more information.


On-Farm Value Added: From Fermentation to Festivals

Shared Harvest Community Farm and Education is a certified organic vegetable farm whose mission is to provide families within the community with organic produce that is environmentally sustainable, locally desirable and socially responsible. And they are always up for trying something new! The farm is in its fifth year of operation. On approximately 7 acres of fields and mixed gardens they are cultivating over 40 types of vegetables and close to 100 different varieties for a 80 member community shared agriculture (CSA) box program which operates for 8 months. In addition, they process food by dehydrating, freezing, canning, fermenting and pickling in their certified kitchen to stretch the share boxes well into the winter. The farm also offers cooking classes, dinner nights, educational workshops and health & wellness classes, and has an annual “TurnIp the BeEts” music festival. Shared Harvest also helps low income families with subsidized food boxes through the, “Let’s Eat Right Dunnville” program. The farm works very close together with Dunnvilles Schools and organizes educational farm tours for kids and teenagers and COOP positions. This farm is a great example of how to diversify, add value to your farm products, connect with your community and have offerings year round!

When:   15 November 2015
Where:  Dunnville
Cost:  $40 member / $68 member family, $50 non-member / $85 non-member family/or 2 “pay-what-you-can” places, contact for more information.


What to expect?

  • You are encouraged to participate by introducing yourself, asking questions, and sharing your experiences.
  • Come prepared to take lots of pictures, and notes. Tours are not workshops, and do not usually include handouts or other take home materials.
  • Expect that you will be outside for the duration of tour. Wear appropriate clothing, sunscreen, hats, and water etc.
  • Expect to be on your feet, and walking around for most of the tour.
  • No food or drink will be provided. There will be a bathroom, usually in the host’s home.
  • Check and double-check your directions. Rural addresses can be trickier to find than urban ones.
  • Every farm tour, like every farm is unique. Every tour group is at a different level. Ask for clarification if you need it!
  • A family rate is for up to two adults and two children under 13 years of age.

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