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Countdown to Thanksgiving: A Guide to Planning the Meal and Keeping it Local

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It’s hard to believe that fall is here, and that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. In Hastings County, there’s a lot to be thankful for and this year you can support local farmers, businesses, and artisans with a bit of pre-planning. As always, locally sourced items are abundant in the area. What better time than Thanksgiving to ty locally grown meats, veggies, desserts, beverages, and artisanal décor?  

Four multi-coloured crocheted pumpkins held in the arms of a person wearing a plaid shirt.
Trina Romanchuk’s hand-made crocheted pumpkins available from Marmalade Handmade Co., Springbrook, ON

It’s all in the planning, so they say.

Given that this is the second time we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving during COVID, we are all practised at pandemic protocols.  So, the first thing to establish is the guest list.

Next, plan your menu & shop local.

Order a Turkey (or consider turkey alternatives)

Several farms raise and sell fresh turkeys, but you’ll need to pre-order.Heritage Hastings lists profiles of farms that raise and sell turkeys and poultry. For example, you can order turkeys or chickens from Firefly Farm, near Stirling.

Thanksgiving turkey sitting on a table

Alternatively, you can pre-order an Ontario bird from a local meat shop or abattoir. Palmateer’s Meats, near Tweed, and The County Butcher Shop in Foxboro, are taking orders now for fresh turkeys that will be ready for Thanksgiving.

Other local meat shops include Hastings Meat Market, Stirling, Red Steer Butcher in L’Amable, York River Meats & Whole Foods in Bancroft, and One Stop Butcher Shop in Madoc. Enright Cattle Co. near Tweed sell beef products.

You might also consider alternatives to traditional meats such as water buffalo from Ontario Water Buffalo Co. in Stirling or a goose from Plainfield Heritage Farm.

Eat your veggies.

The veggies and side dishes can be easily sourced locally. For vegetarians and vegans, a stuffed squash is the poster vegetable needed to complete the meal. You can find squash and pumpkins at various farm stands and markets throughout the county, such as Nansan Farms on Highway 37, near Plainfield. Or visit the Market in the Village in Stirling, open Fridays from 4:30 to 7 pm. Local farms and farm stands provide a wide range of produce from potatoes, peppers, garlic, cabbages, tomatoes to herbs and condiments.

A pile of muti-coloured guords of all shapes and sizes
Credit: Ardith Racey

Check out Heritage Hastings for local producers of vegetables and fruit.

Although many local corn stands will have closed for the season, most farm stands remain open until after Thanksgiving.

Thinking fresh fruit – The Apple Store, north of Stirling, sells fifteen varieties of apples, which pair well with local cheeses.

Say yes to cheese.

Hastings County is renowned for its excellent cheeses, and local cheese factories are great places to purchase cheese, as well as a variety of other items to augment Thanksgiving.

Check out the plentiful variety of local and artisan cheeses at Maple Dale Cheese on Highway 37or Ivanhoe Cheese in Ivanhoe. They have a wide variety of cheeses, as well as seasonal décor items.

Keep it sweet!

Thanksgiving is synonymous with pumpkin pie. And apple pie. And homemade butter tarts.

The espresso bar at Hidden Goldmine Bakery

The Hidden Goldmine Bakery in Madoc has an abundance of sweet things and breads “baked from scratch.” They make pies, scones, muffins, and tarts from scratch and they also supply fresh pressed cider from Cooney’s. You can pre-order on their website, or phone ahead.

Stirling’s Paradise Tarts also offers a wide variety of butter tarts.

And if you like to do the baking, you can find pumpkin spices, flours, yeast, and herbs at Oats and Honey in Madoc. It’s the only bulk food store between Belleville and Bancroft. If in Bancroft, Alice’s Pantry stocks a wide variety of bulk food items, as well as locally sourced and gluten free options.

Toast Thanksgiving “Cheers” with local craft beers, ciders, and wines.

A 3 tiered stand loaded with Paula Red Apples at The Apple Store

The Apple Store, north of Stirling is quintessential Thanksgiving. They have 15 varieties of apples, as well as home-pressed, unpasteurized apple cider, which they make themselves. It’s sold elsewhere in the county, too. Check out their décor items for your table setting, too. They have fall table runners, cool retro serving dishes, condiments, maple syrup and more.

As well, Hastings County now has several craft breweries and a world-renowned winery. There are lots of locally produced ‘spirited’ beverage choices in Hastings County:  Potter Settlement Artisan Winery , located north of Tweed, is a definite must for wine enthusiasts.

Several local craft breweries also reflect the diversity of the area. Bancroft Brewing Co.

Signal Brewing Company in Corbyville, and 7/62 Craft Brewers located in Madoc, offer excellent brews to augment festivities.

 King’s Mill Cider in Stirling make a range of delectable ciders and they will deliver to your door – just order on-line.

Set the Table with local Décor & Ambience.

The table is the center of attention, and you can easily incorporate natural and purchased items to augment its visual appeal. Aside from strewing the table with maple leaves, check out the amazing fall décor items at local businesses.

Consider using gourds and pumpkins (real or not) as table accents. You can find cute knitted, crocheted, and fabric pumpkins in various stores. Or add a splash of colour by ordering flower arrangements from local flower shops, located in most villages. Kelly Declair, owner of  Kelly’s Flowers in Madoc, does lots of Thanksgiving arrangements – simply order on-line or call ahead. Kelly’s store is located inside MacKenzie Mills Emporium where you can  find cozy Irish and Canadian-made wool sweaters and socks for cool Thanksgiving nights. There’s a local flower shop in most villages, as well.

A round table showcasing various autumn-themed items at The Studio in Stirling
Credit: Ardith Racey

There are numerous gift shops and antique shops in the north and south that offer autumn themed and locally produced items to inspire your table and wow your guests: Tinhouse Woodworking and espresso bar in Coe Hill, The Old Tin Shed in Bancroft, Madawaska Art Shop in ‘downtown’ Maynooth, The Unconventional Moose on Highway 7 between Madoc and Actinolite, Mackenzie Mills Emporium in Madoc, The Studio in Stirling, Possibilities Inc. and Boutique Inspiration in Marmora, and The Old Cheese Factory in Tweed, to name a few. These stores are also fantastic places to explore over the Thanksgiving weekend.

A decorative autumn display inside the Vintage Junction in Stirling
Credit: Ardith Racey

Don’t forget the mums.

Mums are ubiquitous in the fall; they’re the perfect autumn ‘update’ for your patio or deck before Thanksgiving guests arrive.

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Mums at Nansan Farms market stand on Highway 37. They also have pumpkins and squash well before Thanksgiving
Credit: Ardith Racey

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