Canadian Registered Charity (855745220RR001).


This page shines the spotlight on special individuals, groups, producers & retailers that help advance local food.

Do you know of a local food hero we should recognize? Please email us the information to let us know!


nicklebrook(Article originally published 2012)

In October 2012, John Romano, who is a very busy guy, kindly sat down to explain a bit about Nickel Brook's three fall seasonal ales that used local ingredients.

Why do breweries even bother with short shelf life seasonal brews?

John explained that like any chef, your brew master needs to continuously be inspired and free to try new ideas. Working on new recipes brings energy and creativity to your staff and complements a base line of beer that is available year-round. In Nickel Brook's case it has found its market niche with the Gluten Free Pale Ale, Green Apple Pilsner, and Organic Lager. Like many Ontario craft brewers Nickel Brook's beers are brewed in small batches, without additives like fructose-glucose or preservatives, and are naturally carbonated.

In the summer they released Saison, a thirst quenching Belgian Farmhouse style ale. This was followed with the fall seasonals.  The Pie-Eyed Pumpkin Ale stands out from other pumpkin beers because it uses a fresh crop of pumpkins from a farm on Brook Rd. near the Hamilton Airport rather than canned pumpkin. Each 1000 litre tank requires 12 medium-sized pumpkins that are baked on site. Last year's popularity meant that this year Nickel Brook brewed 2 tanks or 2000 litres.

New this harvest season, Nickel Brook custom ordered locally grown hops to create two ales that make up the Wet Hopped Series. This includes a traditional Scottish ale in the 80 Shilling style called Bertwell 80/ using hops from Guelph, and Underground Pale Ale (which you need to drink carefully at 6.2%) using hops from Flamborough.

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Chelsea Curran started a business specializing in custom edible gardens to help those who desire to grow their own vegetables but don't have the time, skill or physicality to do so. She'll come to a client's home and customize a personal vegetable or herb garden based on sun exposure, available space and produce preferences.

Services include constructing raised beds or new garden beds planted directly in the ground, as well as offering container garden options for apartment dwellers. The service area includes Hamilton, Burlington, Waterdown, Stoney Creek, Dundas, Ancaster and Oakville.

Planning a vacation away for part of the summer? No more coming home to a bed of weeds and dehydrated plants in the garden bed, these gals can help maintain your garden while you are away. 

seed startFor custom gardens they supply organically grown seedlings that they started themselves. The greenhouse and urban farm is located at JR Gardens and Greenhouse – one of the last traditional market gardens in urban Burlington, located beside the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Plains Road.

In addition, she offers plant sales for your organization or at your workplace.

If this custom service interests you, call to book a consultation at 905-802-2444 or visit the website for more information on their service options ranging from initial set-up to complete care.

ian graham with lamb(Article originally published 2012)

By Kelly Graham

My dad is Ian Graham, and his farm is called Old 99 Farm, in Copetown, just off Governor’s Road in Dundas. This growing season I will have the opportunity to work with him one or two days a week, and I will chronicle some of our adventures for you.

ian graham old 99 farmOld 99 Farm is a mixed organic farm and permaculture demonstration site on 22 acres of greenbelt land. Ian has been there 5 years now, and he has done an incredible amount in that time. Before he arrived, it had been growing GM roundup-ready soybeans. Today, the majority of the land is in pasture for animals and for making hay. He has a herd of heritage breed lineback cattle, as well as a flock of sheep, which has recently more than doubled in size to 25!  He also has chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and honeybees. It’s a lively place! There is about a 1-acre vegetable garden in the front, as well as three greenhouses, and a young orchard. It is a very impressive undertaking, and he is always coming up with new exciting projects.

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5th town spotlight(Abridged version of August 17, 2011 posting on

Petra Kassun-Mutch, a dynamic force in Ontario artisan cheese, is stepping down as president of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, the award-winning company she founded seven years ago. She remains a 50% shareholder of the Prince Edward County-based business.

Kassun-Mutch was a key player in the founding of the Ontario Cheese Society and currently serves as interim chair of the recently formed Canadian Cheese Society. She told the society’s board that she now plans to be fully involved in its development as a voice for cheesemakers coast to coast.Cape Vessey is one of the many award-winning cheeses brought to market during the inspired leadership of Petra Kassun-Mutch.

5th town logoFifth Town Artisan Cheese describes itself as an environmentally and socially responsible enterprise. It is Canada’s 8th B Corporation and achieved the highest score at time of certification. Fifth Town received the 2008 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation. It is Canada’s only Platinum LEED manufacturing facility and the only Platinum LEED dairy in the world (as of 2011). It has also received many awards for a variety of other initiatives including sustainable enterprise management, marketing, innovation, and architecture.

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