Follow Me Foodie to A Langley Circle Farm Tour!
Meeting the farmers, milking their cows, trying their cheese and drinking their wine!
Achoo! There are so many reasons I could never be a farmer and allergies are only one of them. They wake up at 5-6am in the morning, which is literally my bed time. I was invited on the Langley Circle Farm Tour through Tourism Langley and Vancouver, Coast & Mountains and I was able to meet many of the farmers, winemakers, purveyors and artisans of Langley, BC.
I didn’t even spend a day in the shoes of a farmer and I was already exhausted half way through. Perhaps it was because I was in the wrong shoes, but I did help aerate their grass! It really wasn’t the shoes or any walking though, it was just from hearing about all the work they do. I respected farmers before this trip, but the work and passion they have goes beyond the products they sell and I feel very lucky to have met such a variety of them in Langley.
Scones, muffins and preserves from the cafe at the Fort Langley National Historic Site
All of the farms I visited were family owned and operated and it was nice to see the faces behind the things we enjoy to eat and drink. Although I’ve seen some of their products on shelves before, going to the actual source was a unique experience you just can’t find in the city. Sure the city has community gardens, Whole Foods sampling, and sophisticated tastes, but this was “farm to table” and “eating local” right on the freaking farm. It was beautiful!
It brought me back to memories of the l’île-d’Orléans Farm Tour I experienced in Quebec City and I don’t know why I never thought about exploring similar options in Metro Vancouver. These farms and self guided tours have always been there, but it’s something I tend to forget and/or associate with organized field trips. As a local, “a day trip or weekend out to Langley” doesn’t sound too exciting… until you know what’s actually out there.
I can’t say I’m all too familiar with Langley although I vaguely remember field trips there in elementary school. Yes, it’s very family friendly and appropriate for children, but there were also wineries and activities suitable for adults. It was good to be reminded of what makes it so special and it’s not only an escape from the city, but an educational experience.
It really depends on what you’re looking for and where your interests lie, but The Langley Circle Farm Tour is a self-guided tour you can arrange on your own. Whether it’s a day trip or a weekend getaway, there are activities fit for the whole family, you just need to make the effort to plan. The Langley Circle Farm Tour site can help too – see here!
One of my first stops was the Aldor Acres Dairy Farm with owners Erin and Brian Anderson. I’ve actually been a huge supporter of milk ever since I was born and chances are so were you. Aldor Acres isn’t a working and operating dairy farm though, but instead it operates as an educational farm. I really admire their dedication and initiation to do this because it’s so important for people to learn where their food comes from. This educational session isn’t only for kids either, and unless you’re a dairy farmer, I promise you will take new information away with you. And if you don’t, then I promise you’ll take at least some of the smell away with you. What did you expect? You’re on a cow farm! Bring Febreeze.
It’s kind of funny because as a kid I think one of the things I would be looking forward to most is milking a cow, and nothing has changed. When I discovered there was an opportunity to milk a cow I got really excited. I’ve only seen it on TV before and it was always something I wanted to try. However after watching so many people milk her, I couldn’t help but to think she was feeling violated. I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity though and it was actually easier milking her than it was milking people for money.
An added note, but you actually wrap your hand around it and squeeze… the pulling down thing is just on TV.
The Milner Valley Cheese goat farm is owned and operated by Glenn and Marianne Smith. This was one of the highlights of the tour for me. First off “cheese” was in the name, and the second doesn’t even matter because cheese please. To be honest, I actually prefer cow’s cheese to goat’s cheese because some goat’s cheese can taste extremely gamey. I do like goat’s cheese, but once in a while I come across a super pungent and gamey one that can really turn me off.
It was interesting because it was here when I saw a nutritional chart and learned that goat’s cheese has less fat than cow’s cheese. It doesn’t really matter to me as long as it’s good quality and has good flavour, but it was new information to me.
We had the opportunity to sample some of the their handcrafted artisan goat’s cheese which is made on the farm, and they were incredible! I tried their plain chèvre, goat curds, and aged goat cheese and none of them were gamey. It’s a small family owned goat farm with a tiny on site cheese shop and they also offer other varieties of goat cheeses and goat cheese soaps too.
I’ve also never had goat cheese that tasted exactly like Parmesan cheese. It was aged for a year and the flavour was salty, buttery and nutty and intense and it looked and tasted just like Parmesan. I loved this!
Interesting fact, or maybe just for me, but did you know goats hate rain? It started to sprinkle and I watched the goats frantically search for cover as I did the same.
Lunch was at Vista D’oro Farms & Winery with owners Lee and Patrick Murphy. For me that name is synonymous with their famous 2007 D’oro fortified walnut wine. It’s their flagship wine that shares similar qualities as port and it’s made from Fraser Valley Green Walnuts, North Okanagan Marechal Foch, Central Okanagan Merlot & Cabernet Franc, and Okanagan Brandy. I first tried this wine 3 years ago and I still like it as much now as I did then.
I know! Isn’t it pretty?! This is what I call a salad. Fresh wild greens, edible flower petals and toasted walnuts. I wanted to toss handfuls in the air like rose petals and celebrate its beauty, but instead I piled it onto my plate. Lunch isn’t normally served at Vista D’oro, but they do have an on site gift shop full of their artisan preserves, wines and jams.
The sausages at lunch were from JD Farms Specialty Turkey and all their products are made from local, farm-fresh turkeys that are antibiotic free and grain fed in the Fraser Valley. They have an on site bistro where you can sit to have lunch or pick up items if you wanted to have a picnic. On occasion they will offer cooking classes at Well Seasoned which is a gourmet food store in Langley too.
Another stop was a visit to Kensington Prairie Farm with owner Catherine Simpson. They raise alpacas and produce honey and a small assortment of farm-based food products. They also sell apparel made from the coats of their alpacas.
We visited a few more farms and a couple nurseries, but the last stop of the day was at Driediger Farms Market with Rhonda Driediger. They offer an assortment of local berries, home made jams, pies and local honey as well as other fresh produce. I’ve been to Krause Berry Farms, but not Driediger and you might want to scope out both websites before you decide.
Honestly there’s nothing better than our local strawberries. Stop buying the big red ones from California guys. They pick them way too early and they taste like watered down lemons by the time they make it to Vancouver. Even our local strawberry farms vary in sweetness though just due to individual farming practices, so try as many as you can to see which strawberry suits your palate. If you’re an intense “foodie” you probably think that’s a reasonable thing to do and I support your train of thought… or is that my train of thought? Anyway Driediger Farms offers strawberry U-Pick Fields as well so you could really just spend the whole day here!