Algoma Highland Wild Blueberry Farm and Winery
Spectacular, scenic, and epic are a few great ways to describe the drive on Hwy 17 North, from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa. Along the eastern coast of Lake Superior, it’s been touted as one of the most beautiful drives in Canada. My driving destination was the Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm & Winery on a warm July summer morning. I had been wanting to visit the farm for a few years now since hearing of its operation. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to do so recently.
The sandy soil in the Algoma Highlands is perfect for growing not only wild blueberries, but I learned, strawberries, raspberries, as well as potatoes and rhubarb. Back in 2006, Trevor and Tracy Laing saw the potential of a piece of real estate just outside of Wawa, Ontario and decided to take the plunge and become farmers on more than 640 acres of raw land. It already had a large building on the property, once used as a tree nursery. More importantly, the land grew many acres of wild blueberries as a natural crop.
It’s located just south of the Town of Wawa on Highway 17 (1 Pinewood Drive) in the northern region of Algoma. Trevor took us on a walking and driving tour of his farm. I asked a little about his background and he said he was born and raised in the Wawa area, got a degree in geology, was a forestry contractor, and has extensive experience as a real estate investor. The Laing's, along with their four children, are now first-generation farmers, increasing their farming operation since 2012 with plans to continue to grow the business.
When I arrived, pick-your-own (PYO) strawberry season was nearing the end of the season on the farm. They currently grow five acres of strawberries, and Trevor mentioned that the PYO operation has been successful this year and they will have very little to pick and freeze, as most of the crop will be picked out by customers. PYO raspberries are the next offering up for customers to come and enjoy a quiet setting while picking juicy, sweet berries.
As for the wild blueberries, they will be ready to harvest soon; however, they are not offered as part of the PYO operation. They are available to customers either as ready-picked or frozen. The berries can be purchased directly from the farm or at numerous outlets throughout Ontario. When I arrived, they were just getting fresh strawberries ready for shipment in a refrigerated truck for a customer in Thunder Bay.
The farm employs about 37 people during peak season. At one time for just a month during blueberry season, but now with the addition of strawberries and raspberries, they can offer more than 2 months of employment on the farm.
The value-added products from Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm & Winery keep their in-house commercial kitchen busy producing a variety of preserves, including; BBQ Sauce, Blueberry Syrup, Wild Blueberry Jam, Wild Blueberry Jalapeno Jam, Wild Blueberry Moose Radish, Wild Blueberry Sugar-Free Jam and Wild Blueberry Strawberry Butter. Their products can be purchased individually, by the case or in a unique wooden gift packaging from one of the outlets listed online at www.algomahighlands.com
The winery portion of the business has been up and running since 2018. The wine maker is Mandi Ramdhanie. She has been with Algoma Highlands for several years now and is a valued part of the team. Mandi learned her craft from the Viticulture Enology Science and Technology Alliance (VESTA) with an internship at Muskoka Lakes Winery.
Fruit wines like Wild Blueberry, Strawberry, and Strawberry/Rhubarb are some of the offerings out of the winery. Wine sales have sky-rocketed over a few short years and are available directly at the farm gift shop during the months of July, August, and September. Ontario customers for wine, can also purchase through the online store through the website.
For travellers, the farm is a perfect place to stop and pick up some berries during the season, or buy gifts. Nature enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that the Voyageur Trail cuts right through the farm where they may get a sighting of bears, moose, geese, coyotes, and wolves. While the farm is private property, there is road access through it to get to the scenic Scenic High Falls. Visitors are welcome to visit the waterfalls, view rock carvings or visit the old beachfront of Lake Superior (160 feet above current-day lake levels).
It is great to see this Northern Ontario farm and agri-tourism business grow and thrive right here in our own region of Algoma Country.
Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm & Winery
Trevor and Tracey Laing
PH: (705) 856-4401
*Check Social media for hours of operation throughout the season