« Producer Spotlight

Highlighting fruit and vegetable producers from across Canada in 2021

Manitree Fruit Farms – Brian Rideout

Blenheim, Ontario

Our farm operation is located in Blenheim, Ontario. We grow a variety of crops. We have strawberries, tart and sweet cherries, peaches, nectarines, cantaloupes, squash, apples, pears, tomatoes and apricots. We are located on the north shore of Lake Erie, and this area allows us to grow a variety of crops.

Why do you grow this produce?

We grow these tender crops because our climate allows us.

What makes your location (or greenhouse) ideal for these crops?

The climate created by the lake makes our springs cool but moderate and fall and early winter are warm.

Where do you market your produce?

Our tender fruit are marketed locally (ON and QC) in grocery stores and we sell our apples to packing houses across Ontario.

How long have you and your family produced fruits and vegetables?

We are a 5th generation farm (my in-laws). I am the only farmer in my family.

How many acres/hectares/square feet (in the case of greenhouses) do you crop?

We have 350 acres and rent an additional 50 acres.

What sustainability and technology practices do you use in your operation to grow your crops to their fullest potential?

We use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on our farm to determine the need and use pattern of crop protection products. Soil and plant health monitoring are very important to the sustainability in an orchard system. Record keeping is probably the most important factor, so we can use that knowledge to pick the best management practices for each growing season.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start growing their own fruits and vegetables at home?

I did not grow up farming. So when my wife and I decided to move back from Out West to farm, my father in-law sent me to various educational seminars. This got me researching online and more information. Sometimes what you see or read may not apply to you totally, but the concept might or one tidbit of information will work. Then get "dirty. Success takes time.

Tell the world why you farm? Do you have any worlds you'd like to share with students about agriculture.

The agricultural industry is as diverse as the crops we grow. A team of people/peers/engineers/mechanics/carpenters/plumbers etc makes farming work this day in age. This is what makes it "Fun", meeting people learning from them and teaching them.

Do you have a favourite recipe using the produce you grow?

I have to say I have no favourite one! I like them all. My absolute favourite thing to do is eat a piece of fruit in the field. Hearing the
crunch, the juice whether it's sweet or still tangy. Nothing is as s