*This post is proudly brought to you in partnership with the Town of Essex – see more great places like Farm Dog Cycles and Fruit Wagon on their site here. *
We recently had the pleasure of getting out to visit Doug Balsillie and his daughter Meg at Farm Dog Cycles and Fruit Wagon on County Road 50 in Harrow. Farm Dog Cycles houses a fleet of 40 stylish, quality made OPUS bicycles and a variety of tours for you and your crew to enjoy. The guided, self guided or customized tours will lead you to some of the area’s best wineries and restaurants. Or you could choose to scoop up a rental at Colchester Harbor or Point Peelee if you prefer to explore those parts! Either way, the flat county roads with new bike lanes make it the perfect area to get out for an easy (or hard – you decide) adventure.
Meg, a school teacher who has been running Farm Dog as her summer gig for the past 7 years, and her husband Liam Brennan own Farm Dog Cycles together are long time bike enthusiasts and racers. Thinking of everything, they’ve fashioned each bike with a cute Farm Dog branded wooden crate to carry all the Essex County essentials that you find along your way.
Their convenient Fruit Wagon is well-stocked to fill your crate with fresh fruits and veg for a picnic or snack – as you might need to stop for a break if you choose the 25 kilometer journey!
The Balsillie’s property is what makes the Fruit Wagon and Farm Dog Cycles possible. The farm is 35 acres of orchard and is home to about 7000 well sculpted apple trees, flowers and herbs, and a variety of vegetables thanks to the rich sunshine and the families abundant passion for farming. Doug and Leslie Balsillie harvested their first crop in 1984 and have been evolving with the times ever since. Their family farmhouse, built in the late 1800’s, sits proudly down their long country drive with a welcoming porch perfect for the occasional nightly tipple after a long day working outdoors.
Whether you’re interested in biking, nature, wine, cooking or flowers, the Balsillie family has worked hard to provide something special for just about anyone. Doug (with his Harrison Ford meets Sam Neill vibe) has a passion for teaching others about farming, whether it’s his customers that buy produce on the side of the road or making visits to schools to engage youngsters in a connection to the food they eat. His knowledge is infectious and we learned so much more than we expected, so do yourself a favour and schedule a late summer/early fall bike tour or rental to meet the family or get your ticket to their 3rd annual Dinner in the Orchard. The dinner is Saturday August 26th and the menu features local food & wine, prepared by Chef Caleb Farrugia of The Green Bean Cafe – we’ll definitely be there!