Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Who’s the most difficult person to shop for on your Christmas list? Everyone plays that guessing game with a friend who has everything or teenager that only wants a certain kind of clothing! For me, it’s Granny. With the best intentions, family members, friends and neighbours purchase her the same bath soaps annually. She has now entrusted me with getting the word out that she does not need more soaps this year! So, I’m faced with the dilemma of what will Granny like instead!?

At Springridge we have treasures that are sure to please anyone on your list! Here is our Holiday Gift Guide of the top 10 best kept secrets at the farm.

1. If you know a family that loves visiting our Fun Farm Yard, surprise them with a Springridge Farm 2011 Season Pass! We are happy to write-up a gift certificate for the amount of next year’s pass and we’ll indicate on the card what it’s for. We offer season passes for individuals, families of three and families of four. This gift will be a nice treat for when we re-open April 8, 2011.

2. We feature an extensive selection of gift baskets that are assembled on the farm and include many of our signature gourmet products. But did you know we will custom make you a gift basket too? Here’s how it works: come to the farm and choose your goodies and a stylish basket, fill out a gift basket request form and your personalized basket will be ready for pick-up in two weekdays!

3. Our Gift Loft will solve any shopping conundrums you have for your girlfriends! We are featuring the ultra-trendy rosette design on scarves, purses and wristlets. The feminine, flower style will make the recipient of this gift feel like they’ve just walked out of the pages of In Style Magazine!

4. Looking for an interesting hostess gift? Try the award-winning Brie Baker by Wildly Delicious! We offer this tasteful gift in a variety of colours including red, which is perfect for holiday entertaining. Pair with a Springridge Farm Red Pepper Jelly to create an extra-special gift.

5. The Ty Pluffies PJ BEAR is a great stocking stuffer for children! These bears like to snuggle up by the fire in their pajamas, while watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and drinking hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. This affordable plush bear has been rereleased in the Ty collection wearing pink or blue PJs!

6. During the holiday season you may just need to show someone a small token of appreciation and we suggest giving them one of our special Christmas tree ornaments. We have a variety of ornaments that will suit traditional or modern décor.

7. Hot on the heels of our recent Evening with Elizabeth Baird, we have signed copies of The Slow Cooker Collection, the Complete Canadian Living Baking Book and the Complete Christmas Book! These autographed cookbooks are a unique option for food lovers and hard-to-buy-for Grannies alike!

8. Men can be just as tough to shop for as women, so I asked Farmer Tom what his top Christmas gift would be from our shop and he chose a picture. We have wonderful wall-art in winter scenes that will capture the attention of any man in your life. In addition, we’re having a HOLIDAY SPECIAL on our small Group of Seven prints. Regularly priced at $99, these select prints are now on sale at 40% off!

9. Are you participating in a cookie exchange and have no time to bake? We have you covered! Our scratch bakery team is making traditional gingerbread cookies!

10. Stonewall Kitchen Italian Night is the perfect grab gift this season! The attractively packaged box includes everything you need for a homemade dinner: Traditional Marinara Sauce, Garlic Herb Bread Mix, Balsamic Fig Dressing and Angel Hair Pasta. Anyone on your Christmas list can sit back and enjoy this meal!

Thank you for celebrating our 50th year on the farm with us. Just a reminder that we are closing for the season on December 24 at noon. Save the date because Springridge is reopening April 8, 2011!

Monday, November 1, 2010

'Tis the Season

We are busy making the switch from harvest to holiday season. Christmastime at the farm is all about romancing traditions with charming décor, festive baking and children’s activities.

Our outdoor décor expert, Anne, is getting ready to create fresh displays for the entrance to the barn. Visit us next week and get inspired by her designs. Feel free to ask her questions about putting together winter arrangements. Anne offers the following tips for sprucing up your own holiday urns:

1. Start with using the soil from your summer planter or sand from your local hardware store (approx. $5 a bag). Line a plastic container, like one from your fall mum plant, with a garbage bag and fill with soil or sand.

2. Begin with your greens. BC Cedar or Ontario Pine help create the nicest arrangements. Place all greens toward the centre of your urn (like a wheel).

3. Incorporate colour. Use ilex berries, magnolia, pine cones, bows or battery operated lights to add twinkle!

4. Accessorize with colourful picks, twigs and Christmas balls, which are all available at Springridge.

5. Remember to water your urn with warm water until the first freeze. Your outdoor arrangement will last longer.

With the cold November weather coming along, we’re warming up our kitchen with some seasonal baking! Complete your dinner party with Holiday Berry Pie, Cherry Mincemeat Tarts or home-made Gingerbread Cookies.

Food for thought: the tradition of gingerbread cookies dates back to the court of Elizabeth I of England. It is documented that she had gingerbread figures created that resembled some of her important guests. Consider the history of your cookie next time you’re securing jujube facial features with icing!

Our Children’s Activities kick-off November 13 & 14 with our Christmas Open House. Santa will be making a stopover at the farm for one weekend only! Join us in making holiday family memories with gingerbread cookie decorating and ornament painting! Activities continue every weekend until Dec. 12. For additional information please visit our website.

Christmas trees will be arriving by mid-November. Enjoy a stroll through our fresh-cut forest and find the perfect Fraser Fir!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Preview

Are you fed-up with waiting patiently in a local field, year after year, for the Great Pumpkin to arrive? Look no further because we have all of the greatest pumpkins for you to choose from. Farmer John and Farmer Tom have harvested some of the prettiest, weirdest and spookiest pumpkins of the season! Here’s a rundown of the specialty pumpkins at Springridge:

Peanut - The newest addition to our pumpkin family! This pumpkin looks like a raw peanut on the surface. While its appearance is creepy, it tastes good in soup or eating as a squash.

Cinderella - This magical pumpkin looks just as pretty as Cinderella's carriage. It's also delicious in soup and good for eating.

Tomato - This pumpkin has a bright red skin. It makes a hearty soup too...squash soup...not tomato!

Ghost - The perfect pumpkin for haunting season! This all white pumpkin is for decoration only. How does the pumpkin turn ghostly white?'s just a special seed!

Knucklehead - The spookiest pumpkin of our crop is all bumpy and warty. This decorator pumpkin is sure to scare your trick-or-treaters!

Prize Winner - A large orange pumpkin in the 150lb range! Surely the best in show!

Swan Gourds - These gourds look like birds. They dry out well and you can keep them forever.

Come join us in celebration of this year’s pumpkin crop at our annual Harvest Festival! The event is every weekend in October, including Thanksgiving Monday. There’s fun for the whole family – wagon rides to a 5 acre corn trail, face painting, “The Great Pumpkin Mix-Up” professional puppet show, new and improved Boo Barn and entrance into the Fun Farm Yard. Visit our website for all the details.

We’re continuing our love of pumpkins in the bakery with home-made pumpkin pies, tarts and our famous pumpkin face cookies. Our gift shop is also brimming with décor items to enhance your seasonal displays at home.

In other news:

Springridge is honored to be hosting an Evening with Elizabeth Baird on November 10. Space for this event is now full. If you are unable to attend the event, we are accepting pre-orders for signed copies of the Slow Cooker Collection, the Complete Christmas Book and the Complete Canadian Living Baking Book. Please call our Gift Loft at (905) 878-4908 to place an order. Orders will be available for pick-up after Nov. 11.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Way the Cookie Crumbles...

At Springridge, we strive to support local partnerships that help make our farm shoppe a unique boutique. This year, we are excited to have formed a new relationship with the local cookie connoisseurs at Mary Macleod's Shortbread. In our bakery, we are featuring Mary's mouthwatering Chocolate Crunch Shortbreads and they’ve already become a favourite treat to indulge in amongst our customers!

Mary was the first entrepreneur in Canada to open a business devoted solely to handmade shortbread. She is currently located on Queen Street East in the Riverdale neighbourhood of Toronto. Mary’s Scottish roots have helped her master and reinvent the traditional shortbread cookie.

In fact, Mary developed the Chocolate Crunch Shortbread as her signature cookie in 1981 and her daughter-in-law, Sharon Macleod, says it’s still their most popular! “She was the first in Canada to mix chocolate into shortbread,” explains Sharon. “The unique ingredient formulation and gentle mixing technique we follow give the cookie a ‘crunch’ from the Belgian chocolate. This is difficult to duplicate with a machine-made cookie and believe me, there have been many who have tried.”

Their shortbreads are made using pure creamery butter and premium ingredients with no additives or preservatives. Sharon says, “We believe that making shortbread is an art, not a science. You have to be happy and relaxed when making the dough.”

Keeping their product fresh is a key component in keeping customer’s buying local. While Sharon believes the trend toward buying local means different things to different customers, there is no doubt Mary built her business with the support of her local community.

“Being a part of our community makes our business enjoyable for our family, our staff and our customers,” says Sharon. Mary Macleod’s Shortbreads have a significant following of long-time customers, often consisting of several generations of the same family.

Sharon encourages Springridge customers to just give them a taste and judge for themselves. Her family devotes their time to making top quality, pure ingredient shortbread that is as delicious as when Mary first began her business. Sharon thinks, “If customers like a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie, they’ll love our cookies!”

In other news: We have 2 new attractions in our Fun Farm Yard. Come by and enjoy the straw bale tractor and tube slide! And don’t forget to mark your calendars… Harvest Festival starts Saturday, September 25!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Cookbook Blog

Welcome to the Springridge Farm Cookbook Club! Our club is just as exclusive as Oprah’s Book Club only tastier! We now offer close to two dozen different cookbooks in our farm shoppe.

Springridge Top Sellers
This is a list of our best selling cookbooks that are definitely worth firing up the oven for.

Napoleon’s Everyday Gourmet Grilling
Ted Reader
This definitive book demonstrates how to create sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, mouthwatering main courses, and delectable desserts—using gas, charcoal, or Napoleon`s SIZZLE ZONE technology. Detailed, directions provide readers with tips and tricks for creating a picture-perfect meal. The book features more than 125 unique recipes.

Healthy Appetite
Gordon Ramsay
Geared around our daily lives, Ramsay gives ideas and recipes for healthy breakfasts, lunches, barbecues, suppers, desserts, kids and entertaining, demonstrates healthy cooking methods that guarantee optimum flavour, and tells us which are his favourite healthy ingredients. Recipes include Mango and Smoked Chicken Salad, Griddle Squid with Roasted Peppers and Cannellini Beans, Wild Mushroom Risotto with baked Courgettes and Roasted Peaches with Vanilla and Spices.

Joy of Cooking
Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker
Selected by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 most influential books of the 20th century, the kitchen classic returns with 500 brand new dishes joining 4,000 best-loved recipes that have been retested and updated. Dishes range from elementary to elaborate, and new sections include 30-minute meals, slow-cooker recipes, and expanded vegetable and baking sections making this cookbook an essential for every kitchen.

Jesse’s Personal Picks
Our resident gourmet foods expert used his extensive knowledge to formulate the top three cookbooks from our shoppe that he’s most excited about.

Jamie Does…
Jamie Oliver
On a recent trip to the UK, we fell in love with Jamie’s new restaurant and this book! Jamie Does…is not available yet in Canada, so we brought it back for you! This cookbook celebrates the vibrant food of six very different regions: Marrakech, Athens, Venice, Andalucia, Stockholm and the Ardeche region of France. The food in each chapter is a mixture of classic dishes and new recipes inspired by the things Jamie learns on his travels.

Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom
Julia Child
What would you give to see the notes Julia Child keeps in her handwritten loose-leaf kitchen reference guide? Your wish is granted! This clever little volume was inspired by Child's notebook, compiled from her own "trials, remedies, and errors."

French Taste
Laura Calder
French Taste focuses on modern French home cooking. Over 100 recipes cover regional and traditional favourites, such as Tian of Provençal Vegetables and Poule au Pot, together with quick, modern meals like Tuna in a Black Poppyseed Crust, and dishes that reflect the multicultural influences in today’s France, such as Chicken Tagine.

What’s Ahead
We are looking forward to introducing new cookbooks into our collection this fall. Among the new titles, you will find:

How Easy Is That? Barefoot Contessa
Family Dinners Tyler Florence
Kitchen Nigella Lawson

Thanks to the publishers of these wonderful cookbooks for the synopses.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All About Outdoor Decor

Summer is here and it’s the season of outdoor living! Whether you’re enjoying a quiet evening on your patio, throwing a BBQ or having your neighbours over, these outdoor décor essentials will get you through any occasion.

Topping our list are eye-catching serving pieces. We have a new line of glassware that captures the essence of a Mardi Gras party! The Murano-like glasses are available in a variety of cocktail styles. Complete your colourful set with a versatile serving tray.

When the sun goes down, enhance your guests’ visibility by illuminating your backyard with a garden lantern on a stake. The globe of the lantern holds a votive candle, which we now offer in 14 fresh scents by Bridgewater.

An option for lighting a gazebo is a cast or wrought iron chandelier. A chandelier can be the focal point of your outdoor living space and also provide you with soft candlelight for summer meals!

Change the ambiance with an interesting tablecloth. You don’t always have to go for the plastic red checker print when you’re setting an outdoor table. We have tablecloths in various sizes and bright patterns that will charm your visitors.

Wondering just how sizzlin’ your summer is getting? Keep track of the temperature with a stylish outdoor thermometer. This must-have item will add interest to cottage decks, backyard fences or apartment balconies.

In other news:

Springridge is hosting a summer event on July 14, 5:30pm-8pm. We're inviting you to Girls Night Out on the Farm with Kathy Buckworth – television personality and author of the hilarious Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay. RSVP:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Berry Blog

You’ve stocked up on pectin, called every day for our crop report and now you’re anticipating getting the first seat on our tractor-drawn wagon ride. Even our farm dog Hudson is salivating for his daily Vitamin C intake. This could only mean one thing: it’s berry season!

Here are a few suggestions for including strawberries in your plans this month…

Strawberry Social
Create a special afternoon for your guests with these strawberry party essentials.
1. You may need several flats of ready-picked strawberries depending on the number of people attending your event. Fresh berries will be available daily in the barn market beginning early June.
2. Our Belgian Chocolate Sauce. Say no more...dip...dip...yum.
3. Springridge blends strawberries and custard to make the perfect summer treat. Impress your guests with our infamous strawberry-custard tarts.
4. Send home a classic strawberry recipe with each partygoer. Find some of our favourites on our website.

We also have an extensive selection of outdoor décor that will enhance your garden parties this summer. Come into the barn market to see our collection of lanterns, terracotta pots, serving trays and garden statuary.

Strawberry “Staycations”
The Springridge pick-your-own strawberry field is the ideal destination for families staying in town and taking day trips. Embark on a scenic wagon ride along the Niagara Escarpment, experience the Fun Farm Yard then go home and make strawberry jam with your harvest!

In fact, you can enjoy delicious jam all year ‘round with this recipe.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

2 cups crushed berries
4 cups sugar
¾ cups water
1 box powdered fruit pectin

Add sugar to fruit and stir well. In a saucepan, boil ¾ cup water and the fruit pectin for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the hot pectin and water to the fruit and continue stirring for 3 minutes. Put in containers, let stand for 24 hours and store in freezer.

Remember your sunscreen, hat and water. We'll see you in the fields!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Gift Guide

At Springridge, we recognize it can be difficult choosing the perfect gift. Our staff is eager to help you make the best decision. As a starting point, here’s a gift guide with some ideas for upcoming occasions!

Mother’s Day (May 9, 2010)

Impress your mom with a stunning new piece from the Marie Osmond jewelry collection. Inspired by her own personal possessions, this talented mom incorporates stylish designs with a little glitz and glamour! Visit Judy (modeling a Marie necklace in turquoise) in the Gift Loft.

Also in the Gift Loft, we’re featuring an exciting selection of spring scarves! Don’t keep your mom out of the loop – a scarf is a great way to add style to a basic outfit. She’ll love our new patterns and colours. Pick any two scarves for only $20!

April showers bring May flowers. Our first hanging baskets of the season are in! These spectacular flowers are a gift that will not only wow Mom but last all summer long too. Baskets are $60.

Wedding Gifts

Congratulate the new couple with a unique serving piece from Wine Planks. Each piece is handcrafted using recycled wine barrels from the Niagara region. Include a VQA wine with this gift!

The Maple Bowl by Bayshore is a truly Canadian gift. Each bowl is finished with a natural beeswax coating. Toss in a pair of salad servers too!

Let the bride and groom find their own treasure at Springridge. We have gift certificates available in the denomination of your choice!

Time to start thinking about Father’s Day and end-of-year Teacher gifts...

There’s no doubt dads are raring to fire up the BBQ. Our gourmet department is offering an extensive selection of grilling sauces as well as the award-winning BBQ Brie Baker. Dads will also like our cottage guest books featuring a bear or buck on the front cover.

Looking for a token of appreciation for a teacher? We have an inspiring selection of cookbooks, delicious flavours of locally made fudge (3 for $11.95) and a collection of jams made on-site. Pair with fun summer napkins to complete the gift. Surely an A+!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Opening Day Q & A

Co-owners of Springridge Farm, John and Laura Hughes, are celebrating 50 years on the farm this season. Springridge features a fun farm yard, birthday parties, school tours, seasonal festivals, pick-your-own strawberries and a barn market with fresh produce, gourmet items and homemade baking. I sat down with Laura to chat about her savvy retail shop.

NIKI: Springridge is celebrating 50 years on the farm, how did your retail section begin?

LAURA: “Like so many other things on the farm, it started as a result of what customers were looking for. In the early 80’s we started to bring in a few bus tours from Toronto and many of the ladies were looking for something to buy. I listened to them and I got into small souvenirs around the $10 mark. When those sold, I tried some items worth $20 and $25 and it snowballed from there.”

NIKI: Are you personally excited about any new product lines, if so, which ones?

LAURA: “I’m very excited about the wall art and the paintings that we have. Art is something I’ve enjoyed all my life and that department has grown rapidly for us over the last few years. This year, we’ve introduced quite a few Canadian artists. They are wonderful prints, particularly those by the Group of Seven.”

NIKI: Do you think it’s important for Springridge to feature Canadian made products?

LAURA: “Yes, it has always been important for us to sell Canadian made products. This year we’ve searched at the Gift Show, the One of a Kind Show and the By Hand show. I’m particularly proud to say we’ve got several items that are made in Ontario like Hilborn Pottery, which has a very classic look to it.”

NIKI: What are the must-have items for garden-patio season?

LAURA: “If you’re setting up your garden and you come to Springridge, a must-have item is one of our garden statues. Many of our designs are classics like you would find in an English garden. We also have fun statues you might relate to like a dog or cat. They are beautifully made in Ontario and they will last outside all year round.”

NIKI: The Springridge Gift Loft features affordable jewelry, scarves and handbags. What trends are you seeing in this merchandise for spring?

LAURA: “A lot of designs are not too over the top. Crystal jewelry has always been popular for us. We offer some beautiful Swarovski Crystal pieces that are made right here in Toronto. The biggest trend in purses is the messenger style bag. Today, the busy lady can have a messenger style purse on at the mall, getting groceries, unloading children out of the car – it can just stay on comfortably. We’ve brought in messenger bags from great companies such as Lug, Espe and Quetzal. We also had fun with colour this spring!”

NIKI: In 2009 your family house was featured in the magazine Style at Home. What tips would you offer customers who are re-decorating their homes this year?

LAURA: “Keep the basics, like trim, fabric and furniture, in neutrals and have great fun accessorizing with colour. Use beautiful pots, bowls, trays, throws, and cushions to accessorize. If your basics are neutral you can change your decorating with the seasons.”

There’s one additional item that Laura’s looking forward to bringing home on opening day and that’s a strawberry rhubarb pie!

Springridge is now open daily, 9-5.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Merchandise in March

Springridge is one month away from re-opening. We are excited about offering our customers new product lines as well as welcoming back some of our favourites. Here's an exclusive product preview for this spring.

Dean & DeLuca
We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the famous gourmet food emporium Dean & DeLuca. This NYC-based specialty food shop first opened its doors to the neighbourhood of SoHo in 1977. They have since expanded their cafes around the globe. Springridge Farm is proud to be the only retailer of Dean & DeLuca products in Ontario. We are featuring gourmet coffees, specialty teas, sauces, marinades and rubs. The Black Truffle Barbecue Sauce is a must for connoisseurs of the grill. We are also retailing the Dean & DeLuca vintage diner mugs - a great gift for under $10!

Kevin Robert Gray Glassblowing
Kevin's Witch Balls are a new, Canadian-made product for us. Kevin operates a glassblowing studio in Merrickville, Ontario. He uses precious metals and recycled crystal glass to create his art. Historically, witch balls were hung in the home to promote peace and harmony. Each glass ball is unique in colour and design. Look for this item, sparkling in the springtime sun, on the Deck at Springridge.

Bridgewater Candle Company
We are introducing a full line of natural soy blend candles by Bridgewater. These candles are clean burning and come in sophisticated scents. We are featuring four items in each scent including jar candles, votives, tea lites and sachets. Last season, our customers enjoyed the candles because they are in an attractive modern jar that can be reused. Springridge is eager for customers to peruse the new candles in fresh fragrances.

Janet Baskets
These eco-friendly baskets are a favourite at Springridge! We've ordered 2 new patterns for the spring. The baskets are fully collapsible and come in small and large sizes. If you're riding the reusable bag wave then this basket will come in handy at grocery stores, farm markets and picnics. The baskets are a great gift for any age.

See you in our store on April 1! No fooling.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February at the Farm

Welcome to Springridge Farm's new retail blog! Even though we are closed to the public over the winter, our staff is busy preparing for the 2010 season.

Springridge staff recently scouted out new merchandise at the By Hand Show in Toronto. The show featured artisans from all over Canada, who specialized in handmade glass, jewelry, woodwork, pottery and home decor items. We have an increased interest in finding merchandise produced locally and the show provided us with lots of fresh ideas for our customers.

Last week, our buyers also attended the Canadian Gift & Tableware Association Gift Show. The show was host to over 1,000 exhibitors and we are excited to bring some innovative products into our store this year.

Springing ahead to what you can look forward to when we re-open on April 1:

We are celebrating 50 years on the farm and we would like you to join us in embracing classic items that will have longevity in your household.

We are expanding our popular Canadian-made collection. In addition to carved maple bowls, rock inukshuks and pottery, look for our new wine barrel platters and fused glass serving pieces.

Enjoy new items in our nautical section. If you can't make the trip to Cape Cod this summer, you can still get inspired by our seafaring merchandise.

You will find a pop of colour in our home decor displays. This season is all about incorporating bold colours and we are featuring accent pieces in turquoise and green.

Looking forward to sharing retail tidbits, tips and trends. Check back soon!