Fall + harvest = the perfect time to head to the farm. Manitoba's agrarian roots are something special. Our connection to the land makes us unique as a people, and spending time among an idyllic prairie farm setting is good for the soul. Here are some ways to plan a family day trip or weekend getaway to connect with our province's farming heritage:
Head to open farm day
Farmers and agricultural museums in all regions across Manitoba open their gates and doors to visitors during #openfarmday on September 16. A robust directory of all participating location are found on Open Farm Day's website, which includes a map, driving directions and a summary of the hands-on activities to keep the family entertained. We highly recommend doing some research to plan a route ahead of time; we recommend visiting a working farm in the morning, stopping for lunch at a small-town cafe, and then spending the afternoon at a rural agriculture museum.
Book a farm stay
For those without a family connection to a farm, the next best thing is booking an overnight at a country living-themed B&B. Farm Away is a new retreat just outside of Portage La Prairie, where guests can book prairie-themed rooms and spend time wandering the pasture and hobnobbing with chicken, goats and horses. Rustic Retreat outside of Souris has been doing farmhouse chic long before it became trendy. The little-barn-turned-B&B is charming with all its reclaimed wood features and antique furnishings. Breathe in country living at Fairmount B&B, a century-old homestead hidden in the rolling hills between Minnedosa and Riding Mountain National Park.
Dine in farmhouse chic
These destination restaurants are definitely worth the day trip for a nibble of home-style food in charming country settings. The 'Ole Farmhouse Cafe in Rosenort does all of its own rustic baking on-site and hosts an exquisite high tea every afternoon (excluding Sundays) from 1-3 pm, complete with dainties and finger sandwiches. Farmhouse 50, a brand new bistro and gift ship located in a handsome historic building, brings sophisticated tastes to Minnedosa's main street. Stop in for a latte or house-brewed iced tea and shop for jewelry and kids wear by Manitoban artisans. Pineridge Hollow, tucked away near Birds Hill Provincial Park, has been celebrating the people of the prairies for decades with its restaurant/shopping destination/event venue. More recently, its onsite farmers market has become the place to be every Saturday (June-October).
Explore a pumpkin patch
Kids always remember a visit to the pumpkin patch. It’s not just the cheery orange orbs that’ll put a smile on their faces but also the freedom to climb hay bales, explore barns and ride old farm machinery. Schwabe Pumpkins near St. Andrews is a photo-worthy drive to explore the acreage. There’s no admission costs, but you won’t resist buying a pumpkin (or three). Meandher Creek Farms in Oak Lake, west of Brandon, not only sells pumpkins but offers all sorts of family-friendly farm activities such as the pumpkin train.
Join the table at a fall supper
Harvest time on the prairies means Manitoba’s oldest culinary tradition comes alive: the fall supper. From mid-September to mid-November, rural churches and community halls open their doors and offer buffets of down-home cooking, served with a side of Manitoba’s famous hospitality. How does a person find a fall supper to attend? Fall supper aficionado Orest Kinasevych does an impressive job of compiling an up-to-date list of rural fall suppers on his blog, join the Manitoba Fall Suppers Facebook page, or do it the old-school way: check for posters on community bulletin boards.
Visit a hobby farm
Hobby farms are a wonderful way to introduce kids to rural living because they go gaga over the animals. Aurora Farms, just five minutes south of St. Norbert near La Barriere Park, welcome guests year-round on weekends (11 am-4 pm) to visit their goats, alpacas and chickens. Aurora also offers a creative line-up of events such as baby goat yoga and goat milk soap making workshops. Six Pines, just past the perimeter highway northwest of Winnipeg on Sturgeon Road, is Manitoba’s longest running petting farm, while Deer Meadow Farms near Birds Hill Provincial Park and Kismet Creek Farms south of Steinbach also offer fall tours.