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Farm to table: Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley

Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, from The Lookoff
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Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, from The Lookoff

It was a landscape of rolling hills, winding roads, and farms as we approached the fertile Annapolis Valley. With apple orchards, vineyards, dairy cows, and the abundant seafood from the Bay of Fundy, it’s an ideal destination for experiencing the province’s bounty. To top it off, when the tide rolls out you can walk on the ocean floor and search for fossils.

The 17th century French settlers called it L’Acadie. They built dykes to reclaim tidal lands and brought apples to the area. After these French Acadians were deported by the British, English Planters from New England were offered their land. In 1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow brought the story to the English-speaking world in Evangeline.

The area’s warm days and cool nights are ideal for reddening of its renowned apple crop, and Nova Scotia now runs the largest apple enterprise in eastern Canada. Apples are featured on menus and in delicious dessert wines throughout the province. There is an annual Apple Blossom Festival.

scarecrows, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
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scarecrows, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is second only to Maine in producing wild blueberries. From August 20 to September 4 this provincial berry will be celebrated in the annual Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival. Visit in October for the Pumpkin Fest when colorfully clad pumpkin people decorate fields and yards throughout Kentville.

A few stops in the Annapolis Valley shouldn’t be missed:

jellies, Tangled Garden, Grand Pré. Nova Scotia
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jellies, Tangled Garden, Grand Pré. Nova Scotia

Tangled Garden, Grand Pré. Nova Scotia
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Tangled Garden, Grand Pré. Nova Scotia

jellies, Tangled Garden, Grand Pré. Nova Scotia
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jellies, Tangled Garden, Grand Pré. Nova Scotia

Awaken your senses at Tangled Garden in Grand Pré where unique jellies, vinegars, and liqueurs are infused with herbs from the garden, using Annapolis Valley fruits and wines. Take home some colorful liqueurs like Radiant Raspberry with heavenly Rose Geranium, lavender maple syrup, hot peach salsa, and apple sage jelly.

Foxhill Cheese House, Port Williams, Nova Scotia
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Foxhill Cheese House, Port Williams, Nova Scotia

cheese storage area, Foxhill Cheese House, Port Williams, Nova Scotia
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cheese storage area, Foxhill Cheese House, Port Williams, Nova Scotia

Meet the farmer’s daughter and cheesemaker, Melissa Rand, at Fox Hill Cheese House/Fromagerie, RR #1, Port Williams, part of a sixth generation family farm that takes production “from seed to grass to milk to cheese to you”. Cheese, yogurt, and gelato are made on-site from the milk of the 50-head herd of Holstein cows tended by her brother, Rick.

holiday quark, Fox Hill Cheese House, Wolfville Farmers’ Market, Nova Scotia
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holiday quark, Fox Hill Cheese House, Wolfville Farmers’ Market, Nova Scotia

Watch through the viewing window on cheese making days. Sample cheeses like the soft, creamy quark, also available at the Wolfville and Halifax Farmers’ Markets.

Shop for homemade jam and local honey, or pick your own pumpkins, flowers, or Honeycrisp, one of the dozens of varieties of apples, at Noggins Farm, in the Bishop family before Canada became a country. It’s on Hwy 1 in Greenwich, just outside Wolfville. In fall there’s an 8.5 acre corn maze and cider.

You’ll also want to stop at Henniger’s Farm Market, Highway #1 in Wolfville, where you can also discover the pleasures of their Farmer’s Golf.

Gaspereau Vineyards, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
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Gaspereau Vineyards, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Gaspereau Vineyards, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
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Gaspereau Vineyards, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Try the complimentary sampling at Gaspereau Vineyards, set in the beautiful Gaspereau Valley, just outside Wolfville. For the sweetest of wine pairings, try port sweetened with Nova Scotia maple sugar, served in dark chocolate cups, or maple wine paired with maple fudge. Pick up some icewine to serve with blue cheese and pear pie.

Dragon's Breath Blue Cheese, That Dutchman’s Farm, Upper Economy, Nova Scotia
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Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese, That Dutchman’s Farm, Upper Economy, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s unique pungent Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese with black wax casing comes from That Dutchman’s Farm, RR #1 in Upper Economy.

Blomidon Inn, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
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Blomidon Inn, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Blomidon Inn, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
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Blomidon Inn, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

The university town of Wolfville is known for its dining and country inns, and among the best is Blomidon Inn, 195 Main Street a former sea captain’s home with a delightful garden path. Room rates include afternoon tea and a breakfast buffet. Some packages include a four-course candlelit dinner at the Tempest Restaurant, 117 Front Street, considered one of the top restaurants in Canada.

Domain de Grand Pré, Nova Scotia
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Domain de Grand Pré, Nova Scotia

To learn about grape growing, winemaking, and wine tasting, there’s no better choice than Domain de Grand Pré, on Highway #1. As an economusée it showcases the traditional craftsmanship of wine production. The restaurant, Le Caveau, serves global cuisine from local ingredients, like pork schnitzel or lobster with L’Acadie Blanc Reserve, a Nova Scotian wine with a fruity, buttery finish. Owned by Hans Peter Stutz, daughter Beatrice Jurt manages the restaurant, son Juerg makes the wine, and Juerg’s wife handles the wine tasting.

patisserie, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia
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patisserie, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia

leather goods, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia
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leather goods, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia

Kim chi, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia
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Kim chi, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia

Grand Pré wine, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia
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Grand Pré wine, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia

Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia
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Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia

Melissa Rand of Fox Hill Cheese House, Wolfville Farmers’ Market, Nova Scotia
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Melissa Rand of Fox Hill Cheese House, Wolfville Farmers’ Market, Nova Scotia

breads, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia
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breads, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia

Schnitzel, Wolfville Farmers Market, Nova Scotia
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Schnitzel, Wolfville Farmers Market, Nova Scotia

apple cider, breads, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia
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apple cider, breads, Wolfville Farmer’s Market, Nova Scotia

The best place to be on Saturday mornings is the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, where you can shop for fresh produce, baked goods like classic French breads, ethnic foods, and locally made arts and crafts.

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