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"Fall" in Love With Bloomer's Family Farm

           Harvest time is almost here and that means it’s the perfect time for a home cooked meal with family and friends! If you’re looking for local farm fresh food this Fall, look no further than Bloomer’s Family Farm located at 11554 Ivan Dr. in Ilderton.
           As the name suggests, Bloomer’s Family Farm has been a family run and operated farm for over three generations. Steve Bloomfield grew up on the 100-acre farm watching his parents’ passion for small-scale farming. In 2002 Steve bought the farm from his parents and sold freezer beef by the quarter, half, and whole. In 2007 Steve’s wife, Kendra, joined the farm and since then the Bloomfield’s have been working tirelessly to grow their business, including building a market place to sell their products. They take pride in raising and selling hormone free beef, chicken, and eggs; and offering local products such as Rolling Ridge Maple Syrup, and even home décor products at their store. Today, Steve and Kendra, and their four children, have over 62 cows, 3 bulls, 99 laying hens, and 300 meat birds on their farm throughout the year.
           At Bloomer’s Family Farm you can feel comfortable knowing exactly where your food came from and how it was raised. Bloomer’s uses ecologically friendly practices to raise meat, including rotational grazing that requires less land. “I have no interest in being a factory farm,” says Steve Bloomfield about running his own farm, “I’m hoping to bring another generation into farming. The family farm is disappearing, so if we don’t work hard and keep it that’s going to happen”.
          Steve and Kendra’s family friendly approach extends further than just having their children involved in the farm; they want everyone who comes to have a hands on experience. “What is most fun for me is interacting with the customers, learning about their family and getting people, especially kids, excited about farming,” Steve says. Customers to Bloomer’s are invited to tour the property and see the farm animals up close.
           As for Bloomer’s success as a business, Steve and Kendra accredit both their location and their dedication to authentic farming practices. “We’re pretty fortunate being only 10 minutes from [London]; we’re off the beaten path, it’s a nice little drive,” says Steve. Kendra also says that having a good quality local product is a big draw for customers as well. “When you come here it’s a whole farm-to-table experience,” she says.
           For anyone looking for a day outing this Fall, Bloomer’s is hosting a Customer Appreciation Day this September (details to follow) with many fun activities for the family; including a BBQ. Bloomer’s biggest event of the year, however, is their Christmas Open House on November 10th and 11th. The Open House features different vendors from across the County, as well as draws, prizes, and specials on meat. More information on these special events are listed on the Bloomer’s website: www.bloomersfarm.com.
          Although Steve and Kendra say over the years the agricultural industry has changed, (specifically with the advent of technology and increasing media) the product at Bloomer’s Family Farm has essentially stayed the same.  Steve and Kendra invite everyone to “come [to Bloomer’s] and see exactly what you’re eating”.


Getting Your Spice on for Pumpkin Season

By Marlene Cornelis of Urban Cottage Life
Fall is upon us, so brace yourself for a tide of pumpkin spice everything: lattes, muffins, cereal, even cough drops …. Unfortunately, many of these commercial products use artificial flavours. So, let’s jump on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, but start with an actual pumpkin and real spices!
Every year, I buy pie pumpkins to make pumpkin purée and freeze it for whenever the urge for a pumpkin-based treat hits. It’s easy: cut pumpkins in half and remove the seeds. Bake at 350°F, cut side down, until tender (45 minutes or so). Process the pumpkin flesh in a food processor until smooth. To make it a bit thicker, put the purée in a strainer lined with paper towel and let the juices drain out. Freeze in portions sized for your favourite recipes. 
Luckily, pumpkins are easy to come by in Middlesex County. You’ll see them at farm stands, markets and country stores from Newbury to Parkhill to Dorchester. One place you can find them is Kustermans, near Mount Brydges, where their pumpkins will be available around the end of September.
Now, let’s get baking! These Maple Pecan Pumpkin Bars are an easy and naturally sweetened way to get your pumpkin spice on.
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Bars
The shortbread-like base of these bars includes chopped pecans; their flavour marries well with the richness of pumpkin. I use my signature Urban Cottage Pumpkin Spice Blend in this recipe. You can whip up your own batch or use a pre-made blend. Pecan halves glazed with maple syrup make a sweet and nutty garnish for these squares. 
Makes 9 3-inch squares
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F
Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with a length of parchment paper extending a couple inches above the pan on each side, so you can lift out the finished squares.
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Bars
Crumble Base
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
2 tablespoons maple sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
Pumpkin Custard
2 eggs
3/4 cup maple sugar
1 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk (2% or whole milk)
Maple-Glazed Pecans
12 whole pecan halves
1 tablespoon maple syrup
(optional) pinch or so fine sea salt for sprinkling
For the crumble base, stir the flour, pumpkin spice and maple sugar together. Add the soft butter and mix well with a fork until mixture resembles a mix of peas and crumbs. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour into the prepared pan and pat until even. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
For the pumpkin custard, mix the eggs and maple sugar together until well blended. Add the pumpkin purée, salt and pumpkin spice; mix until incorporated. Stir in the flour, then blend in the milk. Pour over the baked crumble base and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the custard has set (a tester will come out clean).
Cool in the pan on a baking rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan without parchment paper to ensure there’s no sticking. Then lift out the whole square and set it on the baking rack to continue cooling.
While the bars are baking, prepare the glazed pecans. The ingredient list calls for extras in case of breakage (or tasting!). Put the pecans halves in a small skillet and heat over medium heat, gently swirling and turning the nuts from time to time. When they have become warm and lightly toasted (you can tell by the aroma), pour the maple syrup over them. Carefully tilt the pan and turn the pecans in the warm maple syrup until it becomes thick and sticky. Don’t let the nuts get too dark. Set the pecans on a small sheet of parchment paper on a baking rack to cool. If you wish, sprinkle them sparingly with fine sea salt.
Once the bars have cooled, cut into 9 3-inch squares and place a maple-glazed pecan in the centre of each.
Store the squares in the refrigerator, in a single layer in a covered container.
Credit for recipe and photos: Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life.com


Happy Thanksgiving from Middlesex County!

You're Invited ... To Network!

Get involved this Fall with some amazing networking events around the County! 
Click HERE to register for the Fall Agri-Business Tour

Agri-Business Exhibitors are Invited to Sign Up for Agri-Net
Showcasing our Agri-Business Connection in YOUR Region
Thursday November 23, 2017
4:30 - 7:00 pm
Western Fair District Metroland Media Agriplex

This is a MEGA networking event, with opportunities to make new
business contacts & view exhibits, along with tasty food samples,
cash bar & some surprises.
EXHIBITOR SPACES AVAILABLE at $150.00 (+HST) per space

Please note, this registration page is for Exhibitors only.
(Tickets for individual attendees will be available soon) 

Click HERE to sign up.

New Videos Highlight Middlesex County Businesses

Every year Invest in Middlesex films eight Business Profile Videos. These videos highlight some of the businesses that call Middlesex County home. We feature businesses from each municipality and across many different sectors. These videos help to gain exposure for these businesses and help promote Middlesex County as a whole; all part of Invest in Middlesex's larger Economic Development Strategic Plan. In August we visited the following businesses and had a blast filming their day to day operations:
Nikos Restaurant (Parkhill)
PentaCast Inc. (Strathroy)
Newbury Dental (Newbury)
The videos will be available to watch soon on our YouTube channel and on our Facebook page - @InvestinMiddlesex. 
Along with out Business Profile Videos, this year we also have a NEW "Life in Middlesex" video. This video shows the community, business, tourism, and people that make Middlesex County more than just a place - it's a home. You might even see a familiar face or two! 
To watch the new "Life in Middlesex" video please CLICK HERE

Check Out Our Recent Online Publications

Read all about it! Visit Middlesex is getting some traction in the digital world. In the past few months Middlesex County tourism has been featured in the blog posts of CanadaStays, Ontario's Southwest, and Canadian Fashionista. From hiking to top restaurants, historic B & B's and kayaking these articles showcase the unique diversity of Middlesex County tourism. We're excited to show them to you; check them out! 

Fall Fairs are Back in Middlesex County!

It's that time of year again - Middlesex County's Fall Fairs are back and bigger than ever! Experience delicious fried foods, exciting midways, educational demonstrations, live music, kids zones, and much more. Middlesex County is known for its dazzling Fall Fairs. With many to choose from you could eat a funnel cake every week this Fall! Find the perfect one for you:

September 15th-17th
225 McLeod St.
September 22nd-24th
2-268 Currie Street
September 29th - October 1st
195 King St.
September 22nd-24th 
21737 Fairview Road
October 7-9th
North Dorchester Agricultural Society                
4939 Hamilton Road          
For more information please visit: www.visitmiddlesex.ca/events/annual-festivals-events

Strathroy Restaurant Owner Wins Big at SCOR's "Local Food Recognition Day"

         What happens when you combine a passion for a gourmet culinary experience and locally sourced food? The Clock Tower Bistro, a Strathroy restaurant owned and operated by head chef Mark Graham, is what happens! The Clock Tower Bistro is situated in the old renovated clock tower (as the name suggests) in downtown Strathroy and boasts cuisine from elevated pub fare such as fish and chips to five star dining such as prime rib. Mark Graham takes pride in sourcing locally including Strathroy's own Slegers Green Houses, The Whole Pig, and Ralph Bros Meats. On September 8th Mark was honoured for his commitment to working with local producers at  "Local Food Recognition Day", hosted by South Central Ontario Region Economic Development. Mark was awarded the Restaurant and Business Award. Invest in Middlesex would like to congratulate Mark on his well deserved win, as well as congratulate the three other Middlesex County businesses and organizations nominated: Healthy Kids Community Challenge, Little Sister's Chicken, and Parkhill Meats. 

Small Business Workshops Schedule

All workshops are hosted by The Business Help Centre in Poplar Hills. Most workshops are free of charge, please register for workshops at www.thebusinesshelpcentre.ca/workshops
September 28 (Thursday 9-11:30)
Small Business Marketing Strategies with Laurie Knechtal from Emotivate Marketing + Design
October 12 (Thursday 9-12)
Two back to back workshops covering: 
Insurance for Business with Amanda Barth from Ontario West Insurance Brokers
Financial Health Strategies with Andree Lamy from Mosaic Wealth Management
October 26 (Thursday 9-11)
Introduction to QuickBooks with Collins Barrow Chartered Accountants
November 2 (Thursday 9-4)
Ask the Expert sessions booked with Laurie Knechtal from Emotivate Marketing + Design
November 9 (Thursday 9-11:30/12)
QuickBooks Beginner Session with Collins Barrow
November 16 (Thursday 9-11:30)
Get Website Smart with Laurie Knechtal Emotivate Marketing + Design
November 30 (Thursday 9-11:30/12)
QuickBooks Intermediate/Advanced Session with Collins Barrow