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Clarington’s Best Kept Secret!
Now more than ever, people are trying to grow their own food during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as both a welcomed distraction and to provide a reliable food source. We have seen people doing everything from container gardening to starting new community gardens. While families are engaging in more home-based activities, they are also finding new ways to explore their surrounding communities. Newcastle is rich in history and offers multiple opportunities to learn and explore during these unpredictable times.
Over many years, families have made it a tradition to visit local Wilmot Orchards farm to pick blueberries. But, if you ask some who live in the area, they may say that they have never heard of it, or never been there before, even though it’s entering its 46th year of operations. A family-run business that is nestled just outside the heart of Newcastle on Concession Rd 3, Wilmot Orchards was founded in 1976 by Charles Stevens and named after Wilmot Creek. Wilmot Creek was named after one of Newcastle’s founding fathers, Samuel Wilmot, and flows directly through the back of the Steven’s farm. Together, Charles and his wife Judi Stevens, embarked on this farming adventure. They later had a daughter named Courtney, who has grown up farming and plays a major role in the operations of the business today.
In 1976, they started farming apples and cash crops, with the intention of adding blueberry bushes. They planted their first blueberry bush in 1979 and they opened for the first pick-your-own blueberry season in 1983. When we ask why blueberries, this is something Charles wanted to do and he really wanted to differentiate from the norm. Before embarking on his journey, he had a government soil test completed and was told that he could never grow blueberries with their soil condition. While some may have taken that information and stopped pursuing their dreams, this was just the beginning for Charles. His ambition and determination is what fuelled his success over the years.
If we look closer at the Steven’s family roots within Clarington, you will discover that their family goes back 7 generations. They actually started farming in Bowmanville in 1810 on Hwy 2, where the McDonalds and Loblaws are located now. Stevens Rd., running behind the Home Depot and Garnet B. Rickard Complex, is named after the family and is where Charles’ parents Bob and Jean Stevens moved after selling the family farm. The house that Charles grew up in was located exactly where the McDonalds on Hwy 2 is built. His father Bob, Grandfather Ross and Great-Grandfather R.R were all dairy farmers of their Glen Rae Dairy. The bottling and storing was done at their Glen Rae Farm on Hwy 2 in Bowmanville, just one mile west of the town.
Charles had a solid understanding of farming when he moved to Newcastle in 1976, he was eager to put his skills to good use. They practice no-till farming, which allows nutrients from falling fruit and leaves to continuously go back into the earth. If the bushes are well looked after, they have a life expectancy of up to 50 years - some of the original bushes from 1979 are still producing.
Blueberries are considered a native plant in Canada and can be found growing naturally in all provinces. They were called “star fruits”by North American indigenous peoples because of the five-pointed star shape that is formed at the blossom end of the berry. It was believed that the Great Spirit sent them from the stars to feed them and keep them healthy. For centuries, blueberries were used as a source of food and for medicinal purposes. The rediscovered health benefits have driven blueberry consumption even higher today. They have earned their reputation as a super fruit that is rich in nutrients.
A single blueberry bush can produce as many as 6,000 blueberries per year. Wilmot Orchards has nine varieties that are available to the public; they include Blue Jay, Blue Ray, Jersey, Patriot, Berkeley, Duke, Nelson Blue Crop and Toro. They do sell some of their berries to local bakeries, but around 98% of the berries that come out of the farm are pick your own.
Environmentally conscious, the Stevens have solar panels on their barn that feed back into the grid and help them offset their usage. All of their berry packaging is recyclable and the boxes, plates and cutlery used in their cafe are biodegradable. They strive to do what they can to benefit the land and the environment, the way that it benefits us.
Located right at the orchard is a seasonal cafe (AppleBerries Cafe) where you can enjoy one of their delicious blueberry desserts and a refreshing drink on their patio. The cafe opened in 1994 and Judi Stevens used to do all the baking in her home kitchen and then transported the goodies to the cafe. Not anymore! With their new addition, all of the baked goods are made at the cafe and almost all of them are made from scratch. They even have ice cream made from scratch with their fresh berries - a must try!
We think Courtney Stevens said it best when she said “We are Clarington’s best kept secret!” They are proud to be a multi-generational farming family in this community. Their goal has always been to provide a quality fruit and an elevated farm experience. We hope they will continue to grow their history (and their blueberries) in Newcastle for years to come! ... See MoreSee Less
Thank you Bernice and Todd for the guided Ehrenwort trail tour today!
CHECK OUT jurylandsfoundation.com/2021-guided-ehrenwort-trail-tours/
FOR MORE INFORMATION OF DATES/TIMES OF THE TOURS
Visit the Jury Lands Foundation Website to learn more history on Camp 30, located in one of our neighbouring cities, Bowmanville. See below, one of two great videos, listed on their website that provides a brief history of Camp 30, the German POW Camp in Bowmanville, Ontario during World War II.
These stories are told by men that were there, and give incredible insight into an important part of Canada’s war history.
jurylandsfoundation.com/news-events/external-links/ ... See MoreSee Less
Three Identical Houses 🏠🏠🏠
Many houses, like all people, change considerably in appearance over the years. Did you know that 106 King Ave. East Newcastle (currently the Sunrise Griddle) and 118 King Ave. East Newcastle (currently Newcastle Hearing Solutions) began life as identical twins? In fact they had an identical triplet sibling; the miller’s house at 612 Mill St. South, in Bond Head!
All three houses are of red brick, one storey, and square. In design they are a very plain interpretation of what is called a Regency cottage. They all had only one fireplace, and that was (and still is) in the south west quarter of each house, thus the west wall of each house once had only one window. Originally none of them had porches.
So the next time you pass by the no longer identical twins on the north side of King Ave East, take a minute to examine them and you should readily see that they once really were identical. 612 Mill St. South is more difficult as you need to have known the house as it was seventy years ago. The additions to the house made by Gordon Carveth in the last quarter of the 20th century have enclosed all but the north wall of the original “miller’s house”.
Aricle written by Leslie Wilson ... See MoreSee Less
Very cool to know. Thanks!
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We are still a little ways away....but the Newcastle Community Hall will be approaching it's 100th 益 Birthday! Okay maybe we are a long ways away;).
Any celebration suggestions? Comment and share below ∇. We would L♡VE to hear your ideas. ... See MoreSee Less