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We Love Wild Blueberries

Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm & Winery blueberry bushes.

Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm and Winery in Wawa



Spectacular, scenic, epic is a great way to describe the drive on Hwy 17 North, from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa. Along the eastern coast of Lake Superior, it’s been touted as one of the most beautiful drives in Canada. My driving destination was the Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm & Winery on a warm July summer morning. I had been wanting to visit the farm for a few years now, since hearing of its operation. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to do so recently.

algoma highlands wild blueberry farm welcome sign
(Photo credit: Greg Cull)

The sandy soil in the Algoma Highlands is perfect for growing not only wild blueberries but, I learned, strawberries, raspberries, and haskap berries, as well as potatoes and rhubarb. Back in 2006, Trevor and Tracy Laing saw the potential of a piece of real estate just outside of Wawa, Ontario and decided to take the plunge and become famers on more than 640 acres of raw land. It already had a large building on the property, once used as a tree nursery. More importantly, the land grew many acres of wild blueberries as a natural crop.

It’s located just south of the Town of Wawa on Highway 17 (1 Pinewood Drive) in the northern regions of Algoma. Trevor took us on a walking and driving tour of his farm. I asked a little about his background and he said he was born and raised in the Wawa area, has a degree in geology, was a forestry contractor, and has extensive experience as a real estate investor. The Laings, along with their four children, are now first-generation farmers, increasing their farming operation since 2012 with plans to continue to grow the business.

algoma highlands blueberry farm trevor laing
Trevor Laing with strawberries. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)

When I arrived, pick-your-own (PYO) strawberry season was nearing the end of the season on the farm. They currently grow five acres of strawberries, and Trevor mentioned that the PYO operation has been successful this year and they will have very little to pick and freeze, as most of the crop will be picked out by customers. PYO raspberries is the next offering up for customers to come and enjoy a quiet setting while picking juicy, sweet berries.

algoma highlands blueberry farm strawberry fields
Strawberry fields. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)
 
algoma highlands blueberry farm raspberry bushes
Raspberry bushes at Algoma Higlands Wild Blueberry Farm. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)

As for the wild blueberries, they will be ready to harvest soon; however, they are not offered as part of the PYO operation. They will be available to customers either as ready-picked or frozen. The berries can be purchased directly from the farm or at numerous outlets throughout Ontario. When I arrived, they were just getting fresh strawberries ready for shipment in a refrigerated truck for a customer in Thunder Bay.

algoma highlands blueberry farm blueberry fields
Blueberry fields. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)
 
algoma highlands blueberry farm picking carts
Blueberry picking carts. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)

The farm employs about 37 people during peak season, which until recently was for just a month during blueberry season. Now with the addition of strawberries and raspberries, they are able to offer more than two months of employment on the farm.

The value-added products from Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm keeps their in-house commercial kitchen busy producing a variety preserves, including; BBQ Sauce, Blueberry Syrup, Wild Blueberry Jam, Wild Blueberry Jalapeno Jam, Wild Blueberry Moose Radish, Wild Blueberry Sugar Free Jam, and Wild Blueberry Strawberry Butter. Their products can be purchased individually, by the case or in a unique wooden gift packaging from one of the outlets listed on their website or online. www.algomahighlands.com

algoma highlands blueberry farm preserves jars
Jars of preserves, ready for labels. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)
 
algoma highlands blueberry farm wooden gift package
Wooden gift package. (Photo credit:Greg Cull)

I was very intrigued to know more about the newly built winery which is part of the growth plan for the farm. With an opening date in early 2018, One Cloud North Winery will specialize in a variety of fruit wines. The wine maker for One Cloud North is Mandi Ramdhanie. She has been with Algoma Highland Blueberry Farm for three years now and is a vital part of the team. Mandi has learned her craft from the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) with an internship at Muskoka Lakes Winery. She is very excited to launch the new brand along with the new tasting room for the winery. Already fermenting, Blueberry Wine, Strawberry Wine, Raspberry Wine, as well as some blends will be for sale. The wine will be available only onsite at the farm. I am very much looking forward to the opening!

algoma highlands blueberry farm wine vats
Wine vats. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)
algoma highlands blueberry farm potato patch
The potato patch. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)

For travellers, the farm is a perfect place to stop and pick up some berries during the season, or buy gifts. Nature enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that the Voyageur trail cuts right through the farm where they may get a sighting of bears, moose, geese, coyotes, and wolves. While the farm is private property, there is road access through it to get to the scenic Magpie River High Falls. Visitors are welcome to visit the waterfalls, view rock carvings or visit the old beachfront of Lake Superior (160 feet above current-day lake levels).

Scenic High Falls of the Magpie River wawa ontario
Scenic High Falls of the Magpie River. (Photo credit: Greg Cull)
new wawa goose monument
(Photo credit: Greg Cull)

Thank you Trevor and Mandi for the tour and for your hard work and knowledge in bringing new local food/drink products to the Algoma table and beyond.

For days and hours of operation and updates throughout the season, check the website www.algomahighlands.com or their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NorthernOntarioBlueberries/

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