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Supplier Series: Brantview Apples & Cider
If there's anything traditional about a balmy Ontario fall, it's apples! In St. George, the Brantview Apples & Cider farm has been following tradition for almost 200 years and 8 generations of family apple farming. It was about time they had their apples in some ice cream!
Current farmer, Jen explains how over the many years, Brantview remains to this day a truly family owned and operated small business. Besides growing great apples, Brantview has a good handful of value-added products they sell including apple butters, apple barbeque sauce, apple mustard, apple donuts, cider and their most recent project, hard apple cider. All of these projects, plus a wedding venue on the farm, markets, a farm store, and school visits, keep Jen and her family busy throughout the season. Jen wouldn't have it any other way; she considers herself lucky to be working so close to family that she can be harvesting apples while her dad works on cider and her sister is across the way at the wedding venue.
Brantview's apple trees span a total of 40 acres, bearing up to 20 different varieties of apples throughout August-October. The oldest trees in their orchard can be up to 30 years old, but new trees are planted every year with the chance for crop rotation and replenishing the soil with nutrients. To combat pests, Jen describes a simple yet innovative method involving twist ties that trick offensive insects out of the trees.
The weather remains their greatest challenger though, and despite months and many hours of hard work, Jen explains that a hail fall can take just minutes to destroy an entire crop. "You can't prepare for hail damage", says Jen, "but with school visits we have the opportunity to teach kids when their young that it's alright to eat an imperfect apple and how to identify if an apple is rotten or still good to eat". Apples that become damaged from the weather (but not wounded) are graded as 2nd apples and thankfully Brantview can use them to make their delicious cider and other products.
Another way that Brantview's 2nd apples are used is in our ice cream factory! We turn these apples (that are still delicious, just a bit rough around the edges) into our Caramel Apple ice cream. Jen was excited to start our partnership as an opportunity for two small businesses to support each other, and got even more excited when she could surprise her family with ice cream made with their apples: "I thought, 'Wow, this would be a great surprise', so we didn't tell anyone and just showed up at Thanksgiving with ice cream made with our apples - it was an amazing feeling".