“Shop Local” has become a bit of a slogan as of late. At the height of the pandemic, when so many businesses were struggling to keep their doors open, shopping local was something that we could all do in order to feel we had some control over our lives, during a time when we had very little control over anything. However, as life has returned to something closer to what we once considered “normal”, we can all admit that we’ve found ourselves sliding back into old habits, and not necessarily good ones.
Now, however, just as much as ever, it is still so important that we do what we can to support local companies, particularly family run establishments like Gerrie’s Garden Centre and Farm Market, located at the corner of Gerrie Rd and Colborne St. in Elora, who work to support dozens of local producers and growers. This means that your visit to one store can have an impact on many families and businesses in the community. As the success of any community depends on the success of its small businesses, “supporting local” means that you’re also investing in yourself and your own success, bringing us all closer together.
If you’re a frequent reader of this magazine, you might already be familiar with the “Gerrie Grown” promise. Naturally growing products, using organic practices to remove the use of any chemicals and providing the highest quality is Gerrie’s passion. Any of the foods that they grow themselves (which at this time of the year includes winter root vegetables like potatoes and squash and their farm fresh eggs available all year round) have their promise to be grown naturally and chemical free. The items that they bring in from other local farms and greenhouses are sourced to meet these values as much as possible as well. Thanks to these greenhouses, many customers in fact often find themselves surprised to find locally grown tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers at Gerrie’s Farm Market even through most of the winter.
Now, not only does shopping locally increase the value of a product because you get to know and trust the growers, but it also limits the chemicals used for transportation as some products are sprayed or fumigated during the shipping process. Not only is local produce free of this, but it also removes the addition of unnecessary emissions into the environment through the transportation process. Buying local helps the environment and ensures that you get the freshest produce possible.
Unfortunately, due to Canada’s climate, there are still a few things which are impossible to grow here. However, even so Gerrie’s strives to get you these products as fairly and as freshly as possible. Their olives and olive oils come directly from farmers in Greece, and their coffee beans are purchased through direct, fair trade before being roasted locally. Very recently they have added oranges and grapefruits to their list of out of country products as well. Again, purchased through direct trade with farms in California and Florida (through the Orange Barn in Millbank, Ontario), the fruit is brought north and taken directly to Gerrie’s Farm Market, ensuring that they are as fresh as possible, sold by the pound or in 20 and 40 lb boxes; you can speak to the Gerrie Team about making orders of these for January.
Don’t worry, they haven’t forgotten about the holidays either. On top of their year-round fresh and local bakery items, they sell an old fashioned, traditional fruitcake that is well known in the area, bringing customers back each year. You can pick up your favourite flavour (including gluten free and sugar free) while also getting any of the gift baskets that they make for the festive season. Be sure to look at the premade baskets or order a customized one to ensure that you cover all your favourites, such as a host of locally made jams, spreads and preserves.
In the garden centre, they’re busy all season long making unique Christmas planters. Handmade by a small team right on location, there are a variety of styles to choose from. If you have a colour in mind, they do take custom requests, but earlier is always better. While they sell planters from the middle of November through to Christmas, the selection and variety is always better at the start of the season as opposed to the end.
At the end of the day, whether you’re looking for fresh produce, local dairy (you’ll love the creamy texture of their Alliston Creamery Butter and those with milk allergies should check out the Guernsey A2 Protein milk) or you are shopping for that perfect seasonal piece for yourself or for a friend, you don’t have to look very far. Visit Gerrie’s Garden Centre and Farm Market to discover all that Ontario has to offer, all year long. This way you’ll always be able to keep it fresh.
WRITTEN BY: JILLIAN KENT | PHOTOGRAPHY: CORY BRUYEA
RESOURCES: GERRIE’S GARDEN CENTRE FARM MARKET, ELORA