Farm to Fork, a recently released web series created and developed by Stratford’s Ballinran Entertainment, follows St. Jacob’s Chef Nick Benninger as he explores the human stories behind six unique farms in Waterloo Region.
A new web series created by Stratford’s Ballinran Entertainment is celebrating local food and the farmers who produce it in the Waterloo Region.
Conceived by Ballinran Entertainment executive producer Craig Thompson and producer Julian Wierzbicki of Waterloo’s Golden Section Productions in partnership with Explore Waterloo Region for Bell Fibe TV1, the Farm to Fork series of six 10-minute episodes follows St. Jacob’s Chef Nick Benninger as he explores the human story behind six different Waterloo Region farms.
“I’ve done food shows before … so I’ve always been a big supporter and proponent of the local food movement,” Thompson said. “Shop local, eat local, it’s really becoming a trend. So when Bell was looking for content from our region, I immediately suggested the idea of doing a Farm to Fork show featuring a well-known chef to get behind the backstories of the farmers who really put their blood, sweat and tears into everything they produce and grow.”
Thompson said Benninger, who oversees a restaurant collective that has transformed St. Jacob’s into a food-lover’s destination, was the perfect choice for host because he’s a local food advocate with a personal relationship with many local farmers. His skill cooking over an open fire – something that’s incorporated into each episode – was also a plus.
“Our local farmers helped shape me into the chef I am today,” Benninger said in a press release. “As a farm-to-fork chef, it was an honour being able to tap into their stories and learn more about their passion for farming.”
The farms featured in the web series, which Thompson hopes will be the the first of many seasons, include Oakridge Acres Country Meat Store in Ayr, Fall Harvest Farm in Wellesley, Mountain Oak Cheese in New Hamburg, Shuh Orchards in West Montrose, the Indigenous Wisahkotewinowak Produce Garden in Kitchener and Jewels Under the Kilt in Fergus.
“Because of the mandate of the show, it was focused on Waterloo Region in the first season. So we went to New Hamburg and did Mountain Oak Cheese, which is an amazing story of Dutch immigrants who came to Canada to get into the dairy industry. We went to another place people in Stratford area know very well, Fall Harvest Farm near Baden. We went to an apple orchard near Elmira called Shuh Orchards. We went to a nut farm between Elmira and Fergus, and we went to Ayr where we visit a bison farm. The last one we did was actually an Indigenous collective garden, which is on the edge of Kitchener … where they’re growing produce in the Indigenous way, so they have very different growing methods,” Thompson said.
“It really follows the journey from Farm to Fork because Nick sets up a campfire, he builds his own barbecue and he cooks something using ingredients he finds on that farm, and he invites the farmers to sit down and share a meal.”
In future seasons, should the series be picked up by Bell, Thompson said he hopes the show can explore agriculture and food production in other parts of Southwestern Ontario.
For now, Farm to Fork is available to watch on Bell Fibe TV, Channel 1 and on the Fibe TV app. For those who aren’t Bell subscribers, the show can also be watched at www.farmtoforktv.ca or at www.youtube.com/@farmtoforktvca.
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