As apple season kicks into high gear, many people will be baking pies or simply packing them in lunch bags. While enjoying an apple may be as simple as picking up a bag at the supermarket, an event next weekend offers the chance to dig a little deeper into how that apple you’re enjoying ended up on a store shelf.
If you have ever bought apples from St. Jacobs farmers’ market or a local grocery store, chances are you have bitten into something fresh from Martin’s Family Fruit Farm.
Next Saturday (Sept. 19), Martin’s will be opening up its doors to the public. The community will be able to take a peek inside and see what happens to their food before it reaches their tables. The apple packing plant will be open for tours as part of the Doors Open Waterloo Region event, featuring several locations across the area. This is the first year that Martin’s has participated in Doors Open and vice-president Steve Martin said the event comes at a perfect time, when people are really starting to think about where their food comes from.
“It gives people an opportunity to see what is happening in their community. I think sometimes people have the idea that this type of food production happens far away in another place. This day is a chance to show the local community that there are some food businesses right here in this area.”
Since 1820, the Martin family has been providing fresh, locally-grown food to Waterloo Region and now sends shipments to local Zehrs, No Frills, Food Basics and Foodland grocery stores, cornering the market on fresh fruit in the region. Known mainly for its apples, Martins is actually one of the largest fresh fruit production centers in this part of Ontario, and supplies local grocers and farmers markets with shipments of strawberries, peaches, field tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions, to name a few.
People can also see dozens of other interesting and off-limits buildings including historic homes and churches around their neighborhood as Doors Open Waterloo Region will invite the public, free of charge, into 36 typically closed-off buildings. Many of the sites, including Martin’s, demonstrate the theme of this year’s festival, Uniquely Waterloo Region, including 1842 Bed and Breakfast, a converted carriage factory, the oldest Waterloo County structure in existence, the Waterloo County Gaol, and the University of Waterloo’s new School of Pharmacy on King Street in Kitchener.
Ultimately, the businesses included reflect the Waterloo area’s Mennonite settler heritage, show the transition from a manufacturing centre to a learning-based economy.
Martin said the event is a great way to gain an understanding of the community that you might not get just by passing by.
“Lots of people in the area have been to our place, but this will be a bit different because they can really tour behind the scenes, which isn’t normally possible.”
Last year’s festival saw more than 8,400 visitors walk through the community’s open doors.
The event runs Sept. 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, check out www.region.waterloo.on.ca/doorsopen.