Spade & Spoon is a small batch preserves company located in the beautiful rolling hills of Northumberland County, Ontario. We focus on using local Ontario ingredients, much of which we grow ourselves on our farm. We have been attending farmers markets and honing our craft since 2009 and have seen a growing demand and appreciation for our approach, namely being the grower and producer of fine quality preserves and fine foods. We’ve found that growing our own ingredients ensures our products are kept very local, very fresh and very tasty. We have a love of food and a love of farming, and our products are a testimony to this!
We offer a range of locally made fine foods made with local and organic ingredients - jams & jellies, relishes & chutneys, pickles, fermentations (sauerkrauts, cucumbers, carrots), and maple syrup from our maple bush too! Over the years we’ve amassed a wide selection of much loved recipes and can confidently say we have something for everyone!
The importance of fresh ingredients is well known in the culinary and cooking world with chefs and home cooks the world over growing their own ingredients for the sake of quality and taste. This is something we have come to feel very strongly about and have witnessed first-hand how much better things taste when they are made with fresh and local ingredients. As such, we strive to grow as many of our ingredients as possible and let the Ontario climate and our garden selection shape and influence our recipes. In fact, many of our products are prepared and preserved the same day they are picked from our garden. When we are unable to grow all of our own ingredients we source from trusted neighbouring and family farms who grow to our standards. Our process is simple. Start with the best ingredients possible (which for us is local and fresh), and follow with tried and true recipes and methods that we’ve developed over years of cultivation and refinement.
About Our Farm
Our small family farm is nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of Northumberland Country, Ontario. It is located between the small towns of Hastings, Campbellford and Warkworth in Trent Hills. This area is truly one of the most scenic parts of Ontario, with a landscape defined mostly by the rolling drumlin hills, the majestic Sugar Maple Ostrich Fern woodland canopies, and the meandering river systems and their accompanying locks and bridges. The fall is an especially stunning time of year with the changing colours in our maple bush. Our farm consists of 20 acres of sugar maple bush (which we tap for our Maple Syrup), 30 acres of farm fields, and 3 acres of naturalized cedar forest. We are always busy at work on the farm planting orchards (apples, pears, peaches oh my!), building ponds, keeping animals (pigs, chickens, laying hens and soon sheep and cattle), installing greenhouses, and building soil health and ecology.
Blythe grew up on the family farm driving tractor, in the barn with the cows, and in the field picking stones. Blythe has been involved with growing and preserving food from a very young age having seen both her Grandmothers (Anne and Iva) religiously start seedlings every year, tend to their gardens, and preserve a years’ worth of jams, pickles, relishes and the like. She studied at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia to complete her double major in Environmental and Health Studies. She worked for a number of years in horticulture and in greenhouse vegetable and perennial growing. She came back to her farming roots in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. Blythe is a natural people person, always happy to chat and always keen to help.
Blythe’s Focus at Spade & Spoon:
Customer Relations, Market & Delivery Logistics, Sales and Accounts
Adam grew up in suburban GTA, spending his summers exploring the shores of Georgian Bay playing with sticks and stones. He studied at Ryerson University, completing his Bachelor in Architectural Science and a Masters in Architecture. He worked for a number of years in the building industry, but yearned to have his own farm based business which would bring together his love of outdoor work, cooking, construction and invention, growing things, and creative problem solving. Adam always has a number of projects on the go at the farm, and a long list of others that he can’t wait to get started! Adam’s eye for detail and ever-curious, problem solving mind lends nicely to various farm and kitchen operations at Spade & Spoon.
Adam’s Focus at Spade & Spoon:
Farm & Kitchen Operations, R&D, Quality Control, Recipe Developments
Much as spring represents the beginning of new life, so it was for us when back in the spring of 2008 we embarked on our first market garden adventure. At the time, we were both freshly steeped and stirred advocates for a local food system, for food security and resilience, and for the mental and physical health and vitality that comes with the growing of one’s own food. We read earnestly from the volumes of Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, Joel Salatin, Bill McKibben and the like (and still do!). For Blythe there was a definite need to retrace her roots, coming from a long lineage of Ontario farmers spanning generations back (and even more generations prior to that overseas). And for Adam there was a budding fascination with growing food and a long love of working with his hands in the great outdoors.
And so it was, on that cold spring day in 2008, up on the family farm, that we cultivated and planted an ambitious 50’x50’ vegetable patch. As it happened, the patch was planted on the very same location that Blythe’s grandmother Iva’s vegetable garden had been planted many years before. Iva had grown mythically bountiful vegetables on that very soil for many years. At the time of our planting the ground had not been worked for well over 30 years, and its fallowed nature held a surprise equal to that of our earnest labouring. Scores of delicious goods were to be had from swiss chard to cabbage, carrots, leeks, tomatoes, peppers and the like. We were up to our knees in fresh, delicious and healthy garden vegetables. And we mean delicious! We can remember eating our first broccoli from the garden, steamed with a dollop of butter and a touch of salt, simple and irresistible. It tasted nothing like the broccoli from a grocer. The same was true for all of our field-to-fork creations. Sautéed swiss chard, with caramelized onions and roasted garlic. Roasted butternut squash with olive oil, maple syrup and a dash of paprika. Grilled yellow zucchini with sliced tomatoes, grated parmigiano and dill sprigs. Everything was unbelievably tasty, thus validating our core principal at Spade & Spoon – always start with the best and freshest ingredients. But another problem arose. We had too much of these “best ingredients”. We were quickly overwhelmed with how much this fertile patch was producing. It soon became apparent to us that the food we were growing needed a purpose.
Enter the lost art of food preservation. Preserving food has a long and coloured history, dating back to the beginning of civilization and is thought to be, along with agriculture, a major contributing factor to humankind’s survival on planet earth. Drying, fermenting, smoking, salting, canning, freezing, root cellaring; only a generation or two back, these methods of food preservation were common place, recipes
and techniques were aplenty, and the glory of a localized food system was in full swing. Every family preserved and stored their own food, because they needed to, but also because it was part of their pre-globalized culture. Being a locavore was the only option, with the occasional exotic treat from afar on special occasions. Sadly, this is not the case today. With much of our preservation facilities and canneries relocated overseas, one can be hard pressed to find an Ontario pickle or jam, especially at the major food retailers. Food preservation plays a vital role in a local food system and in local food security.
All of this was on the forefronts of our minds while we picked bushel after bushel from our garden patch back in 2008.
And so, drawing off of Blythe’s upbringing and her experiences as a child pickling and preserving with her grandmothers, we rolled up our sleeves and got to it. That marked the beginning of Spade & Spoon, and the first of many canning adventures together. Since then we have been participating in a number of shops, trade shows and farmers markets, with Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers Market being our first back in 2009. Over the years, our culinary arts have evolved with our agricultural pursuits. Our garden gets bigger, and so do our forays in cooking, canning, and preserving. We have a love of food, and a love of farming and our products are a testimony to this.
Spade & Spoon: small batch preserves, lovingly tended from our spade to your spoon!