For over 20 years, Avalon Orchards of Innisfil has been dedicated to supporting organic agriculture. Not only do the owners operate a certified organic apple orchard, but they are also dedicated to sharing their knowledge about organic farming with others. Beyond these efforts, Avalon also sells the products of local food producers who use sustainable methods—methods they define as grown without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides.
Achieving and maintaining organic certification requires compliance with a number of standards and Avalon Orchards meets both Canadian and US standards. Some of the suppliers for the store at Avalon Orchards—while they use farming practices that reflect these standards—have not yet achieved organic certification of their land (something that can take many years). Avalon Orchards is also a part of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Environmental Farm Plan. As part of the plan, participating farmers complete a full assessment of current practices to evaluate risks to the surrounding environment, soil and water. Participants then go on to complete plans to address high risk areas.
Practices that reject the use of synthetically produced chemicals, pesticides and GMO’s, but rely on crop management practices and physical practices that support natural protection from pests and disease act as the basis of organic farming. At Avalon Orchards, the choice of hardy apple varieties is a key factor. Behind Avalon’s adoption of organic practices is a desire to protect the natural environment, soil health, the health of surrounding waterways, and the health of customers.
Tours of the scenic 10,000 tree orchard can be arranged for both large and small groups, and include a wagon wide, a small bag of organic apples for each participant, a taste of organic cider and an education about the benefits of (and process behind) organic apple production. After the tour—or independent of a tour—visitors can enjoy the nature trail that winds around the property. If they are lucky, visitors may see one of the beavers or great blue herons that grace the property.
The orchard is open for guests to pick their own apples between August and October. Avalon Orchard products can be purchased through retailers such as Mama Earth Organics, The Big Carrot, Fresh City Farms and Nutrition Plus Community Health Market.
About The Author – Aileen MacMillan holds an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo, and has worked as an independent consultant on environmental projects related to waste management, water quality protection, and environmental education. She has many years of experience working in small business and working collaboratively with teams and individual stakeholders.