3 Women Driving the Food Scene in South Eastern Ontario | Ontario Culinary
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Wendy talking out in the garden at Furnace Falls Farm

3 Women Driving the Food Scene in South Eastern Ontario

South Eastern Ontario’s food scene is growing. From Alexandria all the way down to Gananoque you’ll find craft ciders, farm stands, freshly churned ice cream and so much flavour to write home about.

At the heart of this area are three women, pushing that change and driving the food scene forward, each in their own unique and effective ways. Read on to learn a little bit about each of them!

The Three Women Driving Change

There are many people who support South Eastern Ontario’s rich ecosystem of food but these three women really stand out to us so keep reading!

Cynthia Peters at Maison Maitland

Where: From the Farm Cooking School at Maison Maitland, 1258 County Rd 2, Maitland, ON. (View Map)

Cynthia cooking at Maison Maitland

Cynthia’s passion really speaks through her food. Running a cooking school out of her beautiful home in Maitland, Cynthia has been a passionate part of Ontario’s culinary scene for a long time. Recently making the move from Prince Edward County to Maitland, she’s keen to shake things up.

Visitors to her home and cooking school can select from several group and private classes that range everything from Farm Country Cooking and Tuscan Kitchen cooking to Indigenous Celebration and Pastry classes where Cynthia brings in other Ontario chefs to teach.

delicious spread of Middle Eastern cuisine at Maison Maitland

Of course, the best part is gathering around the food everyone has made at the end of class. In the summer, that means on a beautiful back patio where views across the street of the mighty St. Lawrence River give fantastic vibes to the evening. In the winter, cozy up in the kitchen of this beautiful Palladian home.

In addition to the cooking school, Cynthia is also working on an on-site accommodation to open in 2023 that will allow visitors to the area to stay a little longer and explore some of Cynthia’s favourite spots.

Wendy Banks at Furnace Falls Farm

Where: Furnace Falls Farm, 504 Old Briar Hill Rd, Lyndhurst, ON. (View Map)

Wendy feeding two donkeys at Furnace Falls Farm/Wendy's Country Market

Furnace Falls Farm is its own unique and special spot in South Eastern Ontario. As its primary current feature, there is a farm market (Wendy’s Country Market) to enjoy. At the heart of the entire farm is Wendy Banks, a sixth-generation farmer who loves her community.

Selling only things grown and made on-site, you can buy everything from fresh bread from their farm kitchen to hot peppers, patty pans, preserves, tomatoes, pre-made meals and so much more. Each season brings something new to be excited about and with Chef Karen at the helm, the meals use over 70% local ingredients, many of which are grown right on site.

This old market building is actually inside a 19th-century schoolhouse and has that quintessential Ontario farm store feel to it. Next to it, you’ll find a greenhouse that is full of different veggies in the summer months as well as some donkeys, a pig named King George, goats and some ducks too!

The interior of Wendy's Country Market with a bright blue ceiling and red canoe hanging from it

Wendy herself is a staple on the farm. You’ll find her in the massive on-site garden digging potatoes, planting and weeding all season long. She’s passionate about local food and supports a number of local producers in the farm market in addition to her own.

Perhaps where Wendy shines her brightest though is through the farm events she hosts where she works alongside Furnace Falls Farm’s chef, Chef Karen, to create truly unique long table dinners and events that use the ingredients grown steps from their back door.

Chef Karen's gazpacho at Furnace Falls Farm

Think Mardi Gras feasts, beautiful harvest dinners with smoked venison, and concerts in their charming rustic barn featuring local talent and maple blueberry lemonade cocktails.

Finally, Wendy throws her passion for the food scene into Farm and Forest School where she teaches the next generation about her love of food and the land.

It seems the future of Southeastern Ontario’s food scene is in wonderful hands!

Eleanor McGrath at Springfield Organics

Where: Springfield Farm Organics, 18709 County Rd 25, Apple Hill, ON. (View Map)

Eleanor standing with her apple tree seedling in what will be a full orchard on Apple Hill

Eleanor McGrath at Springfield Farm Organics is passionate about local food and building South Eastern Ontario.

It comes across in almost everything she does, whether that’s planting her own orchard of heritage apples to bring back to Apple Hill, trying a unique way to grow potatoes or joining our board of directors (hey-o!), she is knowledgeable and excited about it all.

That knowledge didn’t come easily either. Unlike many farmers, Eleanor grew up in Toronto and moved to Apple Hill to begin farming on a 118-acre farm that is over 200 years old. She wasn’t born into it!

To this day, Eleanor is super open about that and willing to learn everything she can about the science that goes into farming. Better yet, she’s willing to share it.

In addition to Springfield Farm Organics which sells garlic, honey, basil and other produce items as they come into season, Eleanor and her team also crafted a full disc golf course on-site for avid enthusiasts.

Diane, amateur disc golfer, testing out the course at Springfield Farm Organics

You can sign up for a round online and if you’d like to see more of the farm, reach out to Eleanor as she and her husband Finbarr occasionally open their beautiful farm home for overnight stays that offer farmscape views, quiet evenings and if available, dinner prepared by a local chef.

It’s always worth the drive out to Apple Hill to see Eleanor. Just make sure you let her know you’re coming!

The Best Way to See the Impact

Of course, the best way to see Cynthia, Wendy and Eleanor’s impact is with a visit to South Eastern Ontario! You won’t regret it. Ready to go? Check out our itineraries below!

A Delightful Trip Through South Eastern Ontario: Part 1, Exploring SDG and Cornwall

A Delightful Trip Through South Eastern Ontario: Part 2, Exploring Maitland, Rockport & Brockville