For the past 13 years, the Gladstone has been on a mission to redefine what sustainability can look like in a hotel, beginning with our valued partnerships. Leading the good fight is our executive chef Joshna Maharaj. Our army: local producers. On April 19th we hosted Harvest Wednesdays Local Food Fest in the Ballroom where we invited some of our favourite Ontario producers to share their incredible cheeses, meats, fish, ancient grains, local beer, wine and more with guests–along with delicious appetizers from our amazing chef.
But first–we had to introduce Joshna to a very important member of the OG Gladstone fam: Sherry Patterson from Chick-a-biddy Acres Farm. On a foggy Monday morning, we drove to Sherry’s 72-acre pesticide-free farm near Peterborough to show Joshna the inspiration behind Harvest Wednesdays.
Along with being the most picturesque, charming, feel good place on earth, Chick a Biddy is a C.S.A. (Community Share Agriculture), which means Sherry grows food for a predetermined group of consumers who pay an annual fee to purchase their share of the harvest–the Gladstone was one of her very first customers over 10 years ago. Each week in the summer, we get a box of produce from Sherry’s farm, and it’s incorporated into every Harvest Wednesday’s event.
We were lucky to visit Sherry two days before Joshna’s Harvest Table Dinner on March 29, and our chef was able to pick some of the ingredients for the dinner directly from the ground.
After shaking the city off of us, this is what we saw:
Sherry took us on a tour, starting with her barn, where we looked out at the expansive farmland and also marvelled at a duck who we were certain was stuck in the mud. It wasn’t.
We met Sherry’s dog Buddy who is the size of a small polar bear and loves being outside.
Sherry has a legit root cellar built into the ground. We were only half expecting Frodo Baggins to come out of it.
Sherry is able to grow veggies year round because of three greenhouses. In fact, we picked cilantro right out of the ground for Joshna’s Harvest Table Feast.
Sherry harvests seeds here before they get planted in the ground. There was something so incredibly hopeful and optimistic about it.
We then sat down and enjoyed a gorgeous lunch in Sherry’s picturesque cozy home with a renewed commitment to support our local producers. At Joshna’s dinner, Sherry read a quote from the book ‘Fighting for the Farm’: “We have no choice about whether to farm or not, as we have a choice about whether to produce T.V. sets or not. So we have to either farm, or support farmers, everyone of us, at any cost. We cannot give up because it is inconvenient or unprofitable”
“With food, it can be win-win-win-win,” Joshna told NOW Magazine in a recent profile, “We can, in fact, have affordable meals while still paying producers fairly and still having an amazing beautiful product. Food, I think, is one of the only places where this is possible.” You can consistently expect big things coming from our kitchen from Ontario’s backyard!