With the expansion, there's plenty of room for all sorts of fresh produce, dairy, and baked goods. DON RICKERS

Last year it was processing and storage, this year it’s new retail space

Necessity, often the mother of invention, has seen the DeVries Fruit Farm renovate and greatly expand their retail operation on Canboro Road in Fenwick. With farmers markets closed or limited across the Niagara peninsula this past spring due to COVID, the family business opted to invest in a robust retail approach that included a revamped website, partnering with other local food producers, offering touchless curbside pick-up, and the locally grown cherry on top: basically tripling their retail floor space.

With a new entrance door added to the south side of the building to safely separate incoming and departing customers, the store has been doing brisk business from the start. Along with the farm’s own produce, there is also a selection of Highland Packers meats from Stoney Creek, fresh local flowers from Niagara Bouquet, and pies from Niagara Food Company (formerly called Sweetie Pies) in St. Catharines. The pies are made with DeVries fruit.

Other sourced items include farm-fresh eggs, unpasteurized honey from Lilley Bee Apiaries in Vineland and Charlie Bee in Beamsville, Sovereign Carnation eating grapes from a farmer in Jordan, and maple syrup from a Mennonite family in St. Jacobs.

While the farm’s annual strawberry festival was cancelled due to the coronavirus, there’s a new sort of festive energy on hand as autumn begins, with a sea of pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, and hay bales on display.

In fact, inspired by the season, the family has partnered with Duliban Insurance to support two local charities—Village of Hope, and Niagara Nutrition Partners—though what they are calling the Hometown Heart Fundraiser and Decorating Contest.

Open to Niagara residents only, entrants will compete to decorate their porches in the most creative ways. Contest details appear below.

Staff member Hannah Graat is ready to ring up some sales. DON RICKERS

Niagara Nutrition Partners has distributed some $400,000 in grocery gift cards to students across the region, paid for with ministry funds, grant money specific to the COVID-19, as well as donations. The gift card program continued through the summer, as families rebuilt and regained work post-lockdown. Referrals were received by school personnel, community members, and through partnerships with local food banks and multicultural centers.

The Village of Hope, in Jordan, backed by the Calvary Gospel Church and a number of commercial sponsors, offers a wide range of charitable services from Grimbsy into St. Catharines, and runs a thrift store, according to its website. The organization says that there remains an urgent need for donations of rice, juice, canned meat, crackers, canned potatoes, stews, canned fruit, pancake mix, personal care items, and cleaning supplies.

 

The Hometown Heart Fundraiser and Decorating Contest

Contest Prizes

Decorate your porch or entry and post a picture for your chance to win one of three prizes:

First Prize- Anna Olson will do a porch visit the winning home, plus Anna Olson Baker’s Box set of baking pans, a signed copy of her latest Cookbook, “Baking Day with Anna Olson,” a $250 gift card from The Watering Can Flower Market, $50 gift card from DeVries Fruit Farm, and a handmade porch sign donated from Riverleigh Designs

Second Prize- DeVries apples (10 lbs. bag) monthly for a whole year, a family portrait session from Constellation HAUS Photography, and a handmade porch sign donated from Riverleigh Designs.

Third Prize- $50 gift certificate donated from Advantage Restaurant and Supply Service, a half bushel of DeVries apples, and a handmade porch sign donated from Riverleigh Designs.

Contest Rules

1. Decorate your porch. DeVries Fruit Farm has wide selection of fall décor to inspire you.

2. Follow Duliban Insurance Brokers Ltd., and DeVries Fruit Farm on Facebook.

3. Post a picture of your display on Facebook and tag Duliban Insurance Brokers Ltd., and @devriesfruitfarm. Don’t forget to use #HometownHeartContest!

All entries will be judged based on creativity and overall presentation. A panel of judges will choose three winners. Contest closes Saturday, October 24, at 11:59 PM EST.

Open to Niagara residents only. Winner will be announced Monday, November 2, and contacted via Facebook.

 

With files from Don Rickers