Page 1

Fall 2009 | Volume 3 | Issue 4

sh . reli elg ND MORE



n .c a

w. • ww



ca in.



Culture Home Recreation

is h e l gi

How Sweet Fall Is

Plums & Sweet Potatoes PLUS

• • • •

Sara Westbrook is Entertaining Elgin Artist David Morris Colour Paddling in Elgin County Green Things to Relish

Port Stanley Festival Theatre presents

c ts All Locally Grown • Store-Made Deli Meat • Never Any By-Produ

Why buy products containing water, filler and unnecessary preservatives?

Savour the Farmgate difference.



310 Wellington St, St. Thomas Bring this coupon on your next visit to Farmgate Markets and receive



Port's top restaurants will take you on a culinary journey from Mexico to Germany and beyond! SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 26th, 2009 12pm to 5pm FEATURING

Mickey's Boathouse • The Roxy Diner • The Windjammer Inn Killer Desserts • The Kettle Creek Inn • M.E. & Suzie's The Wharf Restaurant • dessert at Telegraph House (after 3pm)

For tickets ($60*) and more information, contact the Port Stanley Theatre at (519) 782-4353.


* Beverages not included.

Coupon Expires Dec. 31st, 2009




Recommended in Where to Eat in Canada 2008 & 2009

INN Bed, Breakfast & Bistro

Farm to Table Cuisine Featuring Elgin’s Finest

Dine in our dining room or on the verandah!

Open Daily for Lunch & Dinner Saturday Breakfast • Sunday Brunch

Private Dining Room Available • Gift Certificates 324 Smith St, Port Stanley • 519-782-4173 •

Over the Bridge, Before the Beach

Steve Peters MPP Elgin-Middlesex-London

Shop locally & support our farmers. 519-631-0666 • 1-800-265-7638 • TTY: 519.631-9904 • FAX: 519-631-9478 542 Talbot St., St. Thomas, ON• N5P 1C4 •

editor's note

The first FreshFest took place in St. Thomas on August 20, 2009. The event grew out of an idea to take a small Iron Horse Festival food event and make it bigger – hopefully a lot bigger – and to hold it at a unique venue, the historic CASO station. Each member of the planning committee had a desire to celebrate local food and the people who grow it, and to provide an opportunity to enjoy that food, via the efforts of some of our talented local chefs. The idea seemed to capture people’s imaginations (and taste buds) and tickets were sold out in advance. It was an evening to experience Elgin County’s own unique brand of city-rural synergy, an opportunity that attendees seemed to appreciate. As part of the FreshFest event committee (a small group that admittedly made lots of the mis-steps of inexperience) we would like to thank the many people who helped with time, technical assisEditor Debra Bagshaw • Layout & Design Joanne Bagshaw • Advertising Info Cover Image © TO SUBSCRIBE Send a cheque for $10 (to cover mailing) to the following address. Includes 5 issues. Relish Elgin Magazine P.O. Box 20058, St. Thomas, ON, N5P 4H4 519.633.1992

Copyright 2009, Relish Marketing & Promotions Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material published in Relish Elgin is strictly prohibited without the written permission of the Publisher. Relish Elgin is published by Relish Marketing & Promotions Inc.


Front Page

tance, ticket sales, promotion, moral support and ENTHUSIASM. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” is the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that footnotes most communications from Paul Corriveau who is well-known for his involvement with many local initiatives. Backed by legions of volunteers, he has nurtured the fifteen year old Iron Horse Festival by continually putting forward new events and opportunities. This year, he went on to organize September’s Summerblast, bringing Thornley and The Trews to St. Thomas. Events like the Iron Horse Festival, Summerblast, and FreshFest all serve as reminders that our community can be a vibrant place for people of all ages. Not only do they bring people from afar, but they help to renew our own enthusiasm.


INSIDE THIS ISSUE 5 Elgin Events 12 Plum Delicious

savour plums with Berry Hill Fruit Farm

14 Map of Elgin

wIth information on produce available this season

16 How Sweet Fall Is discover sweet potatoes and R-Grow Farm 18 Entertaining Elgin featuring local singer/songwriter Sara Westbrook 21 Colour Paddling in Elgin County 24 The Art of Surprises a look at the art of David Morris 26 Green Things We Relish



Does your home need a facelift? Decorating | Redesign | Consultations Custom Draperies Experienced at Renovations

DOREEN & IAN MOIR | 519.637.8795 | Professional fees are eligible for the Home Renovation Tax Credit.

It’s Apple Time! Several varieties available. Seasonal Produce • Gift Items


Cider • Pickles • Salsa • Honey • Maple Syrup


Peach, Cherry, Apple, Pumpkin & Elderberry Pies Butter, Pecan or Coconut Tarts

Best Date Squares Anywhere!

Open 7 Days ~ 8am to 7pm

Highbury Rd. • North of St. Thomas at Ron McNeil Line • 10 min. south of 401


Bringing Colour to Life INCREDIBLE SELECTION!

One of the largest selections of Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, Evergreens, Perennials, Annuals, Vines, Japanese Maples, Water Plants and Garden Accents

Design & Inspiration


Get inspired with these great garden ideas. Free garden plans available.

269 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas • 519-631-7264 •

Voted Ontario’s Favourite Garden Centre!


Autumn Events

Visit to see our complete events listing and get more details.

A Colourful Palette

SAT SEPT 12 - SAT OCT 31 Three new exhibits open at St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre on Sept 12. Mark Milroy, “comes home” literally and creatively with Landscapes Lost & Found. Martha Eleen’s interest in cultural landscape is represented in her exhibit High Tech Road. Locally Grown presents works from the permanent collection.

SAT OCT 17 & SUN OCT 18 Another opportunity to tour area art studios presents itself in the form of the Elgin Middlesex Fall Colour & Studio Tour. Information is available at

SAT SEPT 26 & SUN SEPT 27 Meet the artists and see their work in a studio setting during the Port Stanley Studio Tour. Find out more at

WED OCT 21 - FRI NOV 6 The Healing Palette Art Exhibit highlights the role creativity plays in the healing process of mental health. The exhibit, which is in its fourth year, will be at the Trillium House Fine Art Gallery, 563 Talbot St., St. Thomas. An opening reception will be held on Fri Oct 16 at 7:30 in the Talbot Teen Centre, 745 Talbot St. For more information call 519.637.8354 or visit

FRI OCT 2, FRI NOV 6 & FRI DEC 4 Appreciate the colourful palette of nature’s hues outdoors, and the artist’s in studio and gallery during the upcoming months. Port Stanley’s First Friday Art Walks continue throughout the village until December. Look for the yellow balloons.

FRI NOV 6 The annual STEPAC Fall Art Auction includes live & silent auctions, hors d’oevres, door prizes and more. Tickets are $25, with an early bird discount of $5 available till Sept 18. For more info call 519.631.4040 or visit



Stock Up For Back-To-School At


Professional, Creative, Reliable & Affordable


We Have Balanced Day Lunch Bags




Plus Bag Tags, Stainless Steel Bottles & BPA-Free Reusable Containers NEW AT ABBEYWOOD’S


445 Talbot St., St. Thomas | 519-637-5793


Any Special Occasion

Lunch Mail

Include one of these inspirational cards in your kid’s lunch bag to give them a lift when they need it.



241 Ross Street, St. Thomas

Fax: 519.633.6775 Cell: 519.870.6775

West Village • Talbot Centre • Market Square • East Village

Check Out What’s New in

Downtown St. Thomas

Great shops, services, restaurants, offices and attractions.

shop. work. live. play. BOOKS FOR LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. 556 Talbot Street • 519.631.2088

in the Talbot Centre area of Downtown St. Thomas

mind. body. spirit.

Children’s Books Spirituality Healthy Living Nutrition & More Select DVDs Now Available



Good Tastes: Town, Country & Train

SAT SEPT 26 Savour international foods prepared by the chefs from eight of Port Stanley’s fine restaurants from noon to 5pm. This is the second annual edition of the Port Stanley Festival Theatre fundraiser, Taste of Port Stanley. Tickets are available at the theatre and participating restaurants. Visit for more info. SUN OCT 4 Tour local farms and chat with the people who produce our food during the annual Elgin Federation of Agriculture Farm Tour. This year’s locations are in Central Elgin, Malahide and Bayham. Maps are available at various locations including St. Thomas and County libraries.

Appreciating The Past

TUES OCT 6 & TUES NOV 3 The unique 110 for 2010 Fundraising Dinners for The Arts & Cookery Bank continue to offer participants an evening of fun and inspiration with the focus on locally produced foods skillfully blended into a fabulous, gourmet meal. Scheduled chefs are Chef Earl Wilson on Tues Oct 6, and Chef Jonathan Collins on Tues Nov 3. Learn, feast and contribute to The Arts & Cookery Bank, scheduled to open in March 2010. Call 519.768.9986 or visit for more information. MON OCT 12 For a Thanksgiving to remember, enjoy turkey dinner in the train diner car, then take a ride on the Port Stanley Terminal Rail. Call the station at 519.782.3730 for reservations and details. SAT OCT 17 Experience the magic of harvest-time in Elgin on The Harvest Moon Road Rally. This day-long adventure has it all – the colours of fall, mysteries to solve, stops featuring Elgin County grown foods and unique products, and great prizes. It all ends with a church supper celebrating local foods. For ticket information, call Heritage Line Herbs at 519.866.5577.

MON SEPT 14 - SAT NOV 28 The Aylmer & District Museum presents items from bee tins and collectibles to chimney covers and more in Collections 2009 – What People Collect and Why. Find out more at www.amtelecom. net/~aylmermuseum.

SUN OCT 25 The loss of Alma College has spurred determination by a growing numbers of citizens to preserve history and heritage in St. Thomas. The Michigan Central Railway shop, constructed in 1913 as a maintenance repair facility, is a significant piece of St. Thomas’s remaining built railway heritage and the home of the Elgin County Railway Museum.

SUN SEPT 20 - SUN FEB 28 A year-long residency by London multi-media artist Kirtley Jarvis culminates in the Elgin County Museum exhibition, Signature Quilts: Community Patterns. The museum, located at 450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas is open Tues to Sat, 10am – 4pm.

Results of a strategic plan on the feasibility of purchasing and restoring the building, or finding a different site, are to be released at an open house in the CASO Station dining hall at 2pm. Residents with an interest in trains, local railway heritage and history are encouraged to attend this important event.




Get Scared Silly Join in with your kids or friends to get silly and take one of many opportunities to be scared (just a little).

FRI OCT 30 & SAT OCT 31 Eat well, then settle back for a Halloween Murder Mystery on the Port Stanley Terminal Rail. Call 519.782.3730 for ticket information. ©

SAT SEPT 5 - SAT OCT 3 The residents and merchants of Sparta have created a Scarecrow Trail. Take a trip to Sparta, take some Scarecrow pics and ask how you can be eligible for a chance at a great gift basket full of goodies from various businesses.

THURS OCT 29 - SUN NOV 1 Long after the fun of the fair is over, the Wallacetown Fairgrounds comes alive again with a spooky Haunted House. Call 519.762.3635 or visit for info on the “Full Scare” and the “Boo Patch.”

FRI OCT 23 & SAT OCT 24 The Rush Creek Wines Haunted Corn Maze comes with a warning, “not for the faint of heart.” It takes place in the very dark countryside from dusk till 10pm. Call 519.773.5432 or visit for the chilling details.

Tradition Meets Fun At The Fair ©

Rural fairs aim to reflect a proud rural and agricultural heritage, and also appeal to a wide audience. Two upcoming fairs meet that challenge with flair. FRI SEPT 18 - SUN SEPT 20 The Rodney-Aldborough Fair is 154 years old. All the animal and prize exhibits will be there, as well as the demolition derby, plus events like the Farm Olympics (cheer on the teachers, students, fire fighters and others) and Lawn Mower Racing, the fastest show on grass. Full events listings can be found at FRI OCT 2 - SUN OCT 4 The Wallacetown Fair (149 years old this year) celebrates Oktoberfest. Lawnmower races, a parade, horse shows, 4H, harness races, tractor pull, demolition derby, beef cattle, sheep, petting zoo, miniature horses, midway and more fill three days. Find out more at




Heritage Line Come Visit us and Enjoy our Fall Events

September 26th, 2009


admission free with donation to the food bank Cooking Demonstration with Chef Jonathan Collins $25 - advance ticket purchase required October 15th to 21st, 2009 - FALL


October 17th, 2009

HARVEST MOON ROAD RALLY tour of made/grown in Elgin products Includes Church Supper made from local ingredients $35 - advance ticket purchase required

Come stroll in our gardens and experience the wonders of lavender Mother’s Day through Christmas. Our gift boutique offers unique handcrafted gifts & gourmet foods created from our harvested lavender.

Open Wed-Sat 10-5; Sun 12-4

47589 Sparta Line

Open Monday to Friday 10-5; Saturday 10-4

53443 Heritage Line, RR1 Aylmer 519-866-5577

(3km E of Sparta)

519-494-5525 PROOF Please proofread carefully, ensuring all content (including phone numbers, addresses & websites) is correct.

13TH ANNUAL HARVEST FESTIVAL September 19th & 20th

Saturday 10-5 | Sunday 12-5 | FREE ADMISSION Winery Open House • Shelley McVittie Art Display Village Cheese Mill Cheese Sampling • Horse Drawn Wagon Rides Kennedy’s Critters & Exotic Animals, Reptiles, Arachnids

Entertainment 1:00 to 4:30pm Daily

Folk Rocker John Milles Saturday & Blues with Sam Hurrie Sunday

Visit our Corn Maze, surrounded by thousands of sunflowers!

$2/person. One free pumpkin per family that dares the maze! Face Painting & Balloon Art with Dotsy the Clown Relax in our Licensed BBQ Court • Burgers & Hot Dogs Free Apple Cider for the Kids

Open 7 Days a Week: Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5 Just 20 mins from the 401! RR#2 Aylmer, South of Aylmer off Hwy 73


Signature: Print Name: Date: © Relish Elgin 2009 This ad has been designed for publication in Relish Elgin Magazine and may contain images with single-use licences. Therefore, this ad may not be distributed, copied, or republished without prior written permission from Relish Marketing & Promotions Inc.


Harvest Festivities SAT SEPT 19 & SUN SEPT 20 The Rush Creek Wines Harvest Festival will feature Shelley McVittie’s new retro art exhibit, a BBQ, and live music 1 – 4:30pm on both days, plus so much more. See the ad on page 9 for details.

SAT SEPT 26 Heritage Line Herbs presents a day of fun, garden tours, demonstrations, wagon rides, pick your own pumpkins and gourds, food samples and barbecue at their Fall Festival. On the same day, learn and taste with Chef Jonathan Collins as he presents delicious ideas for using the seasonal bounty of fall. Pre-registration for the cooking demonstration is required. Find out more at 519.866.5577 or go to SAT SEPT 5, SAT SEPT 12 & SAT SEPT 19 Join Clovermead Bees & Honey as they celebrate the Honey Harvest. Take part in a host of honey-related activities for the whole family. Be there for the bee beard demonstration at 2:30pm and live music from 1 – 4pm. Call 519.773.5503 or visit

Fall Season Of Music & Shows St. Thomas Performing Arts ( and Aylmer Performing Arts ( once again bring audiences a varied line-up of outstanding talent. Tickets sell out quickly so reserve ahead. The Port Stanley Festival Theatre is also planning some musical entertainment in coming months – go to www.psft. for show information as it becomes available.

Doors Open SAT SEPT 26/SAT OCT 3/SAT OCT 17 & SUN OCT 18 Doors are flying open all across the county as three areas boast of their community heritage, from commercial buildings to courthouses, places of worship, gardens and other heritage sites. Go to to find out more about Doors Open East Elgin on Sat Sept 26, Doors Open Port Stanley – Sparta on Sat Oct 3, and Doors Open St. Thomas on Sat Oct 17 & Sun Oct 18.

THURS OCT 15 - SAT OCT 24 (select dates) The Elgin Theatre Guild presents a hilarious battle of cooking show hostesses in Caroline Smith’s Kitchen Witches. Call 519.633.8530 or visit www. for details on the Princess Avenue Playhouse, St. Thomas shows. THURS OCT 29 - SAT NOV 7 (select dates) Aylmer Community Theatre presents the funny and touching play The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell. Phone 519.773.3372 or visit for dates, times and ticket info.




Business Meets The Public WED OCT 21 The St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce ( Small Business Sample Show usually attracts a crowd of at least 500 to their annual public event at the St. Anne’s Centre in St. Thomas from 4 – 7pm. Pick up samples from each participating business. SAT OCT 24 Learn about businesses in East Elgin at the Bayham-Elgin Business Expo, taking place at the Straffordville Community Centre from 1pm – 5pm. Go to for details.

September 20, 2009 to February 28, 2010 Over 20 colourful quilts from all over Elgin County, each containing hundreds of names embroidered and hand-lettered from the 1890s to the 1960s. Dutton Methodist Church Quilt 1890 (detail)

Pumpkins In Support Of Serenity House SAT OCT 10 Cheri Ferguson at Ferguson’s Produce is dedicated to supporting Serenity House Hospice, whose future goal is to provide the residents of Elgin County with a Palliative Care Residential Hospice. World Day 2009 is a unified day of action to celebrate hospice and palliative care around the World. In recognition of the day, volunteer high school students at Ferguson’s will paint pumpkins – funds from your purchase of one of their creations will be donated to Serenity House.

Elgin County Museum 450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, Ontario Tuesday to Saturday 10 to 4 519.631.1460 ext. 160

Kirtley Jarvis: New Work September 20, 2009 to February 28, 2010 Mixed-media work created in response to rural women’s textile traditions and the Museum’s collection. Kirtley Jarvis, 1936 Aldborough Boys Corn Club, embroidered linen, 2009 (detail)

Elgin County Museum 450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, Ontario


Tuesday to Saturday 10 to 4 519.631.1460 ext. 160

Plum Delicious In Season


Recipe courtesy of Foodland Ontario (adapted) To make this a truly local dish, we recommend using fresh sausages made with Ontario pork. 3/4 lb 8 4 1 2 Tbsp 2 Tbsp 1 Tbsp 1 tsp 1 tsp

fresh sausages small bulb Ontario onions, 2" green stem attached large Ontario red or blue plums, pitted and quartered clove Ontario garlic, chopped vegetable oil balsamic vinegar chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried) Dijon-type mustard Ontario liquid honey

• Steam sausages in a little water in covered

frying pan for 4 minutes, turning and rearranging twice; add the onions and continue steaming for 2 more minutes.

• Whisk together garlic, oil, balsamic vinegar,

thyme, mustard and honey.

• Cut sausages into 1-1/2-inch chunks. Alter-

nately thread sausages, plum quarters and onions onto skewers.

• Grill on an oiled rack in a preheated BBQ

over medium heat, brushing with basting sauce, for 3-4 minutes per side or until onions are tender and sausages are cooked through.


Little Jack Horner sure had it right! But don't wait until Christmas to enjoy these fragrant little jewels - they're in season now in Ontario. Enjoy their sweet, tart flavour in both desserts and savoury dishes, like Plum and Sausage Kebabs (left). Several local farmers grow plums, including Berry Hill Fruit Farm in Aylmer, featured on the next page.

Plum Facts • Japanese and European type plums are grown in Ontario. Both are fine for eating but the European types (blue and blue prune) are also well suited to cooking and are often available into October. • Plums are often the base for delicious baked goods and sauces, or as a meat and game complement. • The first Thanksgiving dinner menu included plums. • To ripen firm fruit, store at room temperature in a loosely closed paper bag. Source: Foodland Ontario and The Ontario Tender Fruit Producers (


© Queen's Printer for Ontario | Courtesy of Foodland Ontario


In Season


Berry Hill’s on-farm market is not your typical tiny farm gate stand – it is HUGE! It is also surrounded by a wonderful variety of fruit trees and other crops as far as the eye can see. Berry Hill is a big operation, but maintains a personal touch that visitors value. Farmer Dick Saarloos began planting his orchard of apples, peaches, plums, pears, strawberries and raspberries almost thirty years ago. Wife Renee works both on and off the farm and specializes in marketing their produce. The Kraan family are long-term employees and an integral part of Berry Hill – Alice’s infectious smile and enthusiasm are a welcome part of a visit to Berry Hill or the markets where their products are sold. More recent additions to the items grown at Berry Hill include sweet corn, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans and melons. On an early September visit to the farm, in search of plum pictures, I found both Dick and Renee eager to show off their crops. Renee pointed out one patch of luscious-looking everbearing strawberries – there’s something to look forward to at fall market! The trees of earlier plum varieties had been picked clean, but Farmer Dick, seeming to know where every tree in the orchard was located, readily directed me toward a blue plum tree laden with fruit. He


chatted about the effects of a winter cold snap or a sudden hot spell on the different fruits, noting the brown spot at the centre of a plum that can appear when they are heat-stressed. He emphasized that a plum picked too soon will never develop as much flavour – he likes to leave them on the tree for as long as possible for the best taste. Dick notes that 60% of Berry Hill’s products are sold at market (their own and at local farmers' markets) and 40% to local stores. A key to marketing their produce has been to develop good partnerships with local retailers. He notes one such positive relationship, supplying seasonal strawberries to Briwood Market in St. Thomas, has lasted twenty years. Renee and Alice both recommend the best way to serve plums is whole in the hand, ripe and fresh. They are prepared, though, if you would like to do something more fancy, with a whole binder full of complimentary recipes through the seasons for plums and all their other produce. Berry Hill Fruit Farm is located at 48937 Glencolin Line , Aylmer. They are also regulars at the St. Thomas Farmers’ Market and Aylmer Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings. For more information, call 519.765.1752. Photo above, middle: Renee & Alice


Flavourfull Fall Map of Elgin County



ille W d


Apples • Beans • Beets • Bok Choy • Broccoli Brussels Sprouts • Cabbage • Carrots Cauliflower • Celery • Corn Crabapples Cranberries ...

... Cucumber Eggplant • Garlic Leeks • Lettuce • Mushrooms Onions • Parsnips • Pears • Peppers Plums • Potatoes • Radishes • Rapini Rutabaga • Spinach • Sprouts • Squash Sweet Potatoes • Tomatoes • Zucchini

FRENCH COOKING LESSON Three vegetables that are in season right now—carrots, celery and onion—make up the trinity of French cuisine known as mirepoix. This combination of aromatics forms the base of a wide variety of stocks, stews, soups, sauces and other dishes. It frequently forms the bed on which meats or fish are braised. The vegetables are diced and can be used raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, traditionally in a ratio by weight of two parts onion, one part carrots and one part celery. The addition of ham or pork belly makes mirepoix au gras. Mirepoix has transcended traditional French cooking and has become a foundation of Western cooking.



Map of Elgin County









How Sweet Fa Is In Season



Recipe courtesy of Foodland Ontario (adapted) This soup freezes well, so you can make a large batch and enjoy it throughout fall. Serves 6. 2 Tbsp 1 2 2 tsp 1 tsp 1/4 tsp 2 cups 4 cups 1 can 1 Tbsp 1/4 tsp

vegetable oil medium Ontario onion, chopped cloves garlic, minced finely grated fresh ginger root each of ground cumin, coriander and turmeric hot pepper flakes vegetable or chicken broth cubed peeled Ontario sweet potatos (about 1 1/4 pounds or 1 1/2 large) light coconut milk fresh lime juice salt (optional)

• In a large nonstick saucepan, heat oil over

medium heat; cook onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, tumeric and hot pepper flakes, stirring until onion is softened, about 3 minutes.

• Add broth, sweet potato and coconut milk;

bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; cook for 12-15 minutes or until potato is tender. Let cool slightly. Purée, in batches with blender, food processor or hand blender until smooth. Return to saucepan. Stir in lime juice; season with salt.

• Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts and

minced fresh cilantro or parsley.


Courtesy of Foodland Ontario

Sweet Potato Facts As a sweet potato grower, Monika Rastapkevicius provides a few fast facts on this new darling of the vegetable world. Read about her farm, R-Grow, on the following page. • Many people are surprised to find that sweet potatoes can be grown in Ontario. What is sometimes marketed in Ontario as a yam is truly a sweet potato. • A true yam is a starchy edible root that is rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene. Yams are generally imported to North America from the Caribbean. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, sweet potatoes and yams are not one and the same. • Sweet potatoes are smooth with skin colours that can vary from pale yellow to deep purple to vivid orange. The internal flesh colours can also range from light yellow to pink, red or orange. • Sweet potatoes with the vivid orange colour flesh and skin are what we see most often in our Ontario grocery stores. Other varieties of sweet potatoes that are lighter skinned have a firmer, drier texture when cooked.


In Season

R-GROWN CLOSE TO HOME R-Grow Farms in West Lorne is owned by Leo and Monika Rastapkevicius. They grow sweet corn, muskmelons, seeded and seedless watermelons, ornamental pumpkins and gourds, sweet potatoes and cash crops. Leo’s family had grown tobacco in Elgin County for many years. However, when Monika and Leo went into farming together, following graduation from the Agricultural Program at the University of Guelph, they decided to look seriously at alternatives. They experimented with a small acreage of several different alternative crops and over the years have expanded on the ones they found best fit their operation. At the Horton Market it is obvious that R-Grow is very much a family operation and their children enjoy bringing their produce to “market.” Daughter Anita works efficiently, ever attentive to customers, while Joe works intently at marketing packages of cut-up melon. Monika notes, they also help with seeding in the greenhouse, washing trays, picking product in the field and packaging in the barn. The best job perk is watermelon tasting! In total, the Rastapkevicius family farms 450 acres, 125 acres of which are fruit and vegetables (sweet corn, muskmelons, seeded and seedless watermelons, ornamental pumpkins and gourds and sweet potatoes) and the remainder cash crops. Monika notes, they are very enthusiastic about the

“buy local, eat fresh” movement and enjoy promoting products “grown close to home.” They are currently in the process of becoming a verified MyPicks vendor through Farm Markets Ontario. R-Grow’s customers are their neighbours – the family takes quality, flavour and freshness seriously. That means: hand-harvesting, careful handling during packaging and delivery and use of environmentally sensitive production techniques. They are participants in the Environmental Farm Plan, use Integrated Pest Management Techniques, and grow crops using alternative practices such as ground covers, row covers, crop rotation as well as mechanical and manual cultivators. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the family enjoys baked sweet potato fries, sweet potato muffins and sweet potato pie. Says Monika, “Move over pumpkins, sweet potato pie is delicious!!” You will find R-Grow Farms with their produce at the Horton Farmers’ Market in St. Thomas and the Masonville Farmers’ Market in London. It is also available at several local grocery stores. Below: fall decorations available from R-Grow at the Horton Market; sweet potatoes; Monika, Anita & Joe; sweet potato, maple & pecan tarts

Sweet Potato, Maple & Pecan Tarts Recipe Available at Courtesy of Foodland Ontario

Courtesy of Foodland Ontario



Sara Westbrook



While some contemplate ‘what if’ possibilities, there are those who follow their heart to live a dream. Elgin County’s own Sara Westbrook is one of the fortunate individuals who is able fulfill her lifelong ambition as a singer, songwriter and motivational speaker.

At the young age of three, Sara used a carrot for a microphone and a table as a stage, from which the budding performer announced to family, friends and the world that she was going to be a singer. Sara recounts, “Every time I would sing a song I would start it about six times, as I wanted to get it just right.” A deep rooted desire motivated the youngster at this early age, knowing that singing would be her life but unaware how it would evolve. One certainty was her good fortune to be blessed with a wonderful, supportive mom, who saw and nurtured Sara’s determination and passion.

asking if she would be willing to sing and share her story with students. The encounter planted the seed for the programs she would come to develop for youth. Sara’s world tumbled again with the death of her father, a time so painful that her love and enjoyment for singing and speaking became nonexistent.

Sara was destined to follow along the path of her family lineage. “My voice came from Grandma (her Dad’s Mom), as she was a singer; another musical gift was from my Grandfather, a piano tuner for Mr. Dressup.” The bright and cheerful young talent continued to perform—at festivals, star searches and concerts. At the age of eleven she was elated with her first paying gig singing, acting and dancing at a dinner theatre in Harrietsville, to the delight of the audience. Life’s puzzle pieces were fitting together nicely for Sara, until the divorce of her parents. That traumatic event caused immense pain. However, out of that dark cloud came a silver lining when, after a performance, Sara was approached by a school principal


© in the Blink of an Eye photography


Music Six months had passed when her mom presented an idea about writing a song for Brenda Houman, an acquaintance suffering from early stage Alzheimer’s disease. After much deliberation, Sara met Brenda and eventually went on to co-write “One More Memory”, which debuted on World Alzheimer’s Day 2004. The single became a gold record. This pivotal period provided momentum for Sara to get back into singing, songwriting and speaking with a new outlook. Her songs took on a different complexity, a different meaning. Struggles, triumphs and other life experiences became the main focus of her writing efforts. Sara has gone on to work with Kids Help Phone and win three London Music Awards (2007, 2008 & 2009) for Singer/Songwriter. Sara has performed in Romania, Ireland, Greece and Canada, recorded five CDs and developed UPower® Concerts, motivational concerts designed to give people tools to take on life in a powerful way! On September 12 Sara debuts as a columnist for the Times-Journal. Watch for her column ‘My Voice Your Choice’ as she answers questions on life issues from the youth of Elgin County. Sara, as a little girl, would have had no idea that lyrics she would write later in life—‘take a little time and dream a big dream’—would prove to come true.

Want to learn more about Sara? Check out Locally grown Dave Ferguson hails from the metropolis of Aylmer and has been writing in a variety of genres and styles for over fifteen years. He’s an active author in several writing groups, member of PWAC (Professional Writer’s Association of Canada) and currently chairs a creative writer’s workshop in St. Thomas. Find out more at


Beamish Landscape Services Want help with

FALL LANDSCAPING? It’s not too late!

Book early for

FALL CLEAN-UPS SERVICES INCLUDE Landscape Design-Build Projects Retaining Walls, Pavers & Patios Garden Planting & Renovation Enchanting Ponds & Water Features Pruning & Lawn Maintenance


ALSO AVAILABLE Proud Member of

519.633.9176 PROOF


Joe Preston M.P. Elgin - Middlesex - London

Ready and available to help with your Federal concerns. Passports Revenue Canada Income Securities Citizenship & Immigration Employment Insurance

Front Page

Empire Valley FARM MARKET

Spice Up Fall!

WE HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO MAKE SALSA Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers, Hot Peppers & Garlic

Your Source For Fall Decorating Pumpkins, Straw Bales, Corn Stalks, Gourds ... And SO Much More!

27983 Talbot Line Hwy #3 Wallacetown Just 30 min. from London





Constituency Office: 2-24 First Avenue St. Thomas, ON N5R 4M5 Tel: (519) 637-2255 Fax: (519) 637-3358 Toll Free: 1-866-404-0406


Acres of indoor gardens & tropical greenhouses

THE RESTAURANT We begin with the best local ingredients Lunch Specials - Mon-Fri 11am-5pm Sunday Brunch - 11am-2pm


150 Guest Capacity | Available 7 days a week

Mon-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 9am-7pm HIGHWAY #3, EAGLE 519-768-1116 WWW.LAKEVIEWGARDENS.CA


Colour Paddling IN ELGIN COUNTY

An autumn paddle on one of Elgin County’s many creeks affords a new perspective on the outdoors, enveloped in nature under a colour canopy of leaves. The abundant rainfall of the past few months may have put a damper on some of your summer activities, but there is a silver lining – declining water levels of most summers haven’t happened this year. If you own or can borrow some paddling equipment, why not add a colour paddle to your fall drive or hike. Kids and adults can both enjoy a sunny fall day and the possibility of spying wildlife including beaver, deer, great blue herons and more. Here are just a few nearby canoeing or kayaking possibilities: Put in at the Dalewood Bridge just north of St. Thomas and paddle out the north end of Dalewood Lake on Kettle Creek. In early spring it is sometimes possible to make your way right to the Dan Patterson Conservation Area. Later in the year you will probably bottom out somewhere midway. At Port Bruce, Catfish Creek wends its way north from Lake Erie. There is a spot to park under the bridge on


Imperial Road just before it crosses over the creek. Depending upon the day and your craft, you can launch on the beach at Port Burwell and follow Otter Creek north from the town. If the lake is not smooth, there is a launch for fee at Bradfield Marina, 3 Hurley Street. In the valley west of Iona Station on Fingal Line (just east of Port Talbot) the road crosses over Talbot Creek. The creek there is an easy paddle north or south toward Lake Erie. If you work up an appetite, restaurants in both Port Burwell and Port Bruce provide Lake Erie fish specialties and other tasty fare. Use of this information is at the reader’s risk and discretion. As with all outdoor and water activities, safety and common sense are required: watch out for motorized boats; take insect repellent; wear a life jacket; follow posted rules in conservation areas; respect private property; and match skill level to your activity.


It’s the cry of a Peregrine Falcon, soaring on warm summer winds along the Lake Erie Shore. It’s the powder left on your cheek from a curious Monarch and a cool autumn breeze at sunset. It’s the vibrant ever changing tapestry of fall leaves, and the sound of your paddle cutting slow moving waters.

Book your Birding, Butterfly or Fall Vacation at or call 877-463-5446 Bird & Butterfly Migration from Hawk Cliff Located just east of Port Stanley • Info at 519-633-4235 Sept 3-15: Butterfly Migration Sept 12/13 & 19/20: Bird Banding & Monarch Tagging Talks and demonstrations at 11am & 2pm


nature DEFINE


Watershed Fast Facts Sitting quietly, surrounded by water, tends to get you thinking about its quality. In Elgin County, four Conservation Authorities are responsible for monitoring what’s happening with the water in their respective watersheds. • Waterways in Elgin County are the responsibility of The Kettle Creek Conservation Authority, Catfish Creek Conservation Authority, Long Point Region Conservation Authority and The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority. • A watershed or drainage basin is an area of land that drains into a river or lake. A drop of water that lands anywhere inside this boundary will eventually end up draining into the lowest point (e.g. mostly into Lake Erie). Since the boundary is based on the natural shape of the land, the watershed can fall across many municipal boundaries. • Kettle Creek Conservation Authority watershed, for example, drains 510 square kilometres of land on the north shore of Lake Erie. The main branch originates at Lake Whittaker, an 11 hectare groundwater-fed kettle lake.


Saturdays after 10am SEP 19 • OCT 3 • OCT 17 • OCT 31 • NOV 14 • NOV 28 Fresh Certified Organic Chickens Whole Chickens • “Roaster” & “Beer Can” Sizes Vacuum Packed Breasts, Thighs, Legs & Wings Pastured Beef • Organic Brown Eggs

42828 Shorlea Line, St. Thomas

519-631-0279 phone to order and arrange pick up


• Each of the Conservation Authorities carries out unique and programs aimed at wildlife conservation, watershed conservation and environmental education. FOR MORE INFORMATION:



Kayaking Sights: (top row) exposed roots along the Talbot Creek shoreline; local artist Darren Thompson, paddling Talbot Creek on his day off; (second row) a red-winged black bird; the view of Kettle Creek from the bow; (third row) ducks relaxing on a log in Catfish Creek; a blue heron in Otter Creek; cliffs near Port Talbot; kayakers on Catfish Creek.




David Morris

The Art of Surprises A position as the first director of the St. Thomas Art Gallery brought David Morris to St. Thomas almost 40 years ago. He chatted recently with Relish Elgin about his career as a fine artist and his lifetime commitment to providing opportunities for the public to experience art.

What was most memorable about your experience at the St. Thomas Art Gallery? The new art gallery in St. Thomas was unique. First, there was the Alma influence. Very proficient artists taught at Alma and lived in the community. People took art lessons and they bought paintings. Also, St. Thomas was one of the first places in Ontario that had a public art gallery. There were no official art programs in universities. Gallery directors were often practising artists who were working in administration. There was a lot of freedom in program planning. The Women’s Committee was an incredible working group. I was new to the area, but committee members knew everyone and even chauffeured me around Elgin County to pick up works for shows.


What did you do when you left the gallery? I went back to painting full-time. In the early 70s I was also part of a group of artists that sought federal funding (Opportunities for Youth) for a creative craft workshop. We received support from the art gallery board for purchase of initial equipment and supplies. We ran workshops on making everything from belts to sheepskin coats, jewellery, leather, and batik. Thousands of people came from all over to create their own handcrafted pieces. Articles from the 70s mention some local artists who formed a group called W.A.G.E (Working Artists Group of Elgin). Have you found benefits to cooperative ventures by artists? WAGE members got together, rented space and had various shows, including an outdoor one at Pinafore


Art Park. We were looking at ways to support ourselves. We also raised some issues. We felt that the art gallery’s treatment of local artists, at the time, was shabby compared to those from London and we voiced our concerns. Artists often work alone and at times I have organized to get together with others. Often, such groups don’t last for long. I was also part of WOAX (a name chosen because of the letters’ visual impact rather than as an acronym). Our goal was to hold events which included art, music and poetry, with other creative people and those interested in creativity. I have also gotten together, more informally, to share ideas with local artists including Walter Redinger, Ed Zelenak and Harry Wilkinson. How have your creative interests changed and what would you like people to know about you as an artist? I started as a post Group of Seven landscape artist. That type of painting and getting out into nature can be fun. But at this point I am interested in sculpture. I would like people to think of me as a sculptor, as a person who does new things—a curious person. I like change, learning, the visual and tactile qualities of sculpting. It is a way of learning about society. It goes places where I didn’t expect to go—there’s humour in it. But then, I may also get back to doing some large black and white graphics. I like to have a lot of balls in the air—you can grab onto them or leave them up in the air for a while. That way there are always surprises. David has done things other than art to support himself. He was a welding and robotics teacher at Fanshawe College, and also active in worker’s unions. This gave him a unique perspective when he was commissioned to create a monument to workers injured or killed on the job. This dramatic sculpture can be seen ahead as you


enter Pinafore Park. David was determined that it should have impact, and reflect the struggles of working people from all backgrounds. Pieces of the fifteen-foot high structure were individually shaped with a hammer, forged, welded and ground. Set atop aluminum posts, the figure seems to be standing watch. Less visible at first glance are the labour symbol of two hands holding the globe and a frieze of leaves representing workers’ heroism. The material is such that the sculpture changes dramatically depending upon the light. Throughout his career, David has believed in the importance of providing opportunities for people to appreciate art. He notes that in some cities like New York, and commonly throughout Europe, a small portion of public building funds goes towards art, creating enjoyable public places and income for artists. David and his wife, Elaine McGregor-Morris, are so committed to this idea that they have set up a community fund to support it. David smiles, “We really don’t need more stuff. Our family members know that a donation to the fund is a much appreciated way to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.” David’s Pinafore Park sculpture reflects his appreciation for the importance of making workplaces more predictably safe. When it comes to art, however, he relishes the unpredictable—happy to explore new creative avenues and discover where they lead. Opposite page (left to right): aluminum sculpture installation in Morris' backyard; David Morris; monument to workers injured or killed on the job in Pinafore Park, St. Thomas The MCGREGOR MORRIS FUND supports Art in Public Places. It is one of the funds of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation ( whose vision is to respond to community need and to provide support for Elgin County charities with sustainable ‘into perpetuity’ funding. Davis Morris lives in St. Thomas and can be reached at 519.631.2922.


Green Living




Artist Darren Thompson's Little Alphabots are invading the wardrobes of toddlers across Elgin County. These adorable tees feature Quad the Alphabot and are printed with environmentally friendly inks on bamboo/ cotton blend fabric. Available at the William Street Gallery in Port Stanley (172 William St., 519.697.9033). Visit for more info.


Store your snack and hot/cold drink together in this convenient and reusable lunchbox solution from Trudeau. The Fuel line also includes aluminum water bottles, sandwich boxes and snack containers in a variety of colours. All plastics are BPA-free. Available at Home Hardware stores.


We're all used to bringing our reusable bags to the supermarket for our groceries, but still end up using plastic in the produce aisle. These reusable cotton produce bags are great for the farmers' market too! Available at the Living Foods Farmers Market in Eden (54130 Ottergate Ln, just off Hwy 3 east of Aylmer). Visit www. or call 519.765.2088.


We're seeing more and more folding baskets at the market every week. The Vivid Allon (right) from JanetBasket comes in a myriad of beautiful fabric designs and is available in two sizes. The company also makes an Eco Bag (left), with several insulated compartments inside. Perfect for moms on the go, or anyone who loves a great multi-functional and stylish tote. Available in St. Thomas at Wind n Willow, 435 Talbot St. Visit or call 519.637.3904.



Green Living


We get comments every time we pull out our Envirosax totes. They fold into a neat little roll, come in tons of beautiful patterns, and are surprisingly strong. They come in singles or multipacks and are available in nylon, hemp, bamboo, linen and organic cotton. There are several masculine patterns and kids' styles, so there's an Envirosax for everyone! Available at Abbeywood's Emporium (445 Talbot St., St. Thomas, 519.637.5793,

Wind n Willow

Home Decor . Gift Ware Kitchen . Interior Decorating

435 Talbot St, St. Thomas • 519.637.3904 • &


Eco-Friendly Bamboo Teas, Teapots & Thermal Flasks Britto Art Dishes & Collectibles Chic Folding Market Baskets and Much More!

Briwood YOUR

Neighbourhood FARM MARKET

In-Store Bakery Fresh Produce • Meat Bulk Foods • Grocery & Dairy Pet Foods • Garden Centre


1030 Talbot St . St. Thomas

We Proud ly Support Local Farmers


M-F: 8am-8pm, S-S: 8am-6pm

Ferguson’s 15th Annual

SCARECROW FESTIVAL Every Weekend in October including Thanksgiving Monday Come Join OLD BRING CLOTHES TO CREATE A SCARECROW





17 & 18 2009

FREE ADMISSION ............................ For more info please call 519-633-2535

10am to 4pm

11am to 5pm

Corn Maze Corn Stalks Straw Bales Face Painting Refreshments from Dutton Lion’s Club


• 16 sites across the city open to the public • no tickets required




An agency of the Government of Ontario

Huge Selection of


Harvest Moon ROAD RALLY

Ready-picked, or have some fun picking your own!

WAGON RIDES weather permitting

Purchase a

PAINTED PUMPKIN October 10th in support of Serenity House Hospice

Open Thurs-Sun 10am-6pm




11026 Wellington Rd • 519-631-6589

Experience the magic of harvest-time in Elgin as you tour and stop at unique places specializing in made/grown in Elgin products. Relish the fall countryside, solve the mystery clues and end your day with a traditional “church supper” featuring local foods.


Tickets $35 includes muffin & tea/coffee & dinner at St. Paul’s Church in Aylmer available until September 28th at Heritage Line Herbs, Clovermead Bees & Honey, Cobblestones Gallery & Gift Shop, Rush Creek Wines & St. Paul’s Church office (Tues-Fri 9am-noon)

Relish Elgin Fall 2009 Edition  

Relish Elgin is a lifestyles magazine, promoting the people, place, businesses and events of Elgin County, Ontario, Canada.