A Family Tradition
There are few in the area who haven’t heard of Belluz Farms and the tried, true traditions they are know for. Many of us have fond memories of taking a drive out to the farm on a Saturday morning, returning home a few hours later with berry-stained hands and baskets full of plump, juicy strawberries. But Belluz Farms has become so much more than that, and we are proud to feature them as our feature vendor this week, focusing on the many ways in which they’ve expanded since their founding days in 1946.
Located in the pristine Slate River countryside, just south of Thunder Bay, Belluz Farms prides itself on family traditions. Each season brings new activities to the farm, from the quieter periods of winter, to the hustle and bustle of spring and summer, and even the harvest period of fall. The hard-working Belluz family has given folks a chance to experience “life on the farm” for decades!
Belluz Farms was founded way back in the 40’s, when the grandparents of present owner, Kevin Belluz, purchased the farm. Starting out as a small cattle operation, the farm eventually evolved into a potato farm. After Don and Claire Belluz, parents of Kevin, inherited the farm, they decided to experiment in the niche market of strawberries, along with various other fruit and veggie crops. The “fruits of their labour” paid off, and Belluz Farms began to grow a solid reputation of a traditional country outing for many families, supplying many more with their own fresh produce.
In 2001, it was Kevin’s turn to take on the responsibilities of the family farm, and him and his wife, Jodi, are still the present owners. They’ve taken advantage of Kevin’s extensive knowledge within the horticulture industry, and have expanded Belluz Farms into a year-round business by building a small, state-of-the-art greenhouse to produce organically grown vegetable and flower transplants, as well as lettuce for wholesale and retail sales locally. Both Kevin and Jodi are also very actively involved in the local food producing market. As founding vendors of the Thunder Bay Country Market, Belluz Farms has become an outstanding example of our regions capabilities to produce its own locally-grown food, despite our somewhat challenging northern climate. In fact, not only do they aim to produce fresh foods year-round, but they are also actively involved in the marketing and distribution of locally-produced foods within the entire region of Thunder Bay, assisting other small businesses as well. All in all, it’s a win-win situation, and Belluz Farms has proven themselves to be a great example of these new strategies.
While many associate Belluz Farms with their sweet-tasting strawberries, ready-to-pick come early July, there is so much more to see and do at the farm. Each season brings on something new, and it’s worth the scenic drive out to the farm! Come spring, the fields are being prepped for the short growing season our area sees, but the greenhouse offers plenty to shop for, see and do. Summertime not only offers strawberries, but many other pick-your-own or purchase-on-the-farm crops, including raspberries, saskatoons, cucumbers, peas and sweet corn! (Be sure to call ahead to find out when each crop is in its prime!) You can also find many of these fresh items at their booth at the market every week! Fall time brings a whole new atmosphere to the farm, including plenty of pumpkins, the ever-popular corn maze and plenty of family-friendly activities! Once the snow comes around, Belluz Farms closes its doors to the public to enjoy on some much-needed rest for both the staff and fields.
Belluz Farms has become an inspiration to many in our area. Hard-work, a little knowledge of our region and climate, plus some trial-and-error strategic, can get you well on your way to taking action in becoming actively involved in our locally-produced food movement. And by supporting local farms and businesses like Belluz, you’re contributing to the growth and health of our community as a whole. It’s all part of creating a healthier, stronger community, and Belluz Farms has become a great example of this.
Visit the Thunder Bay Country Market on Wednesdays from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, or Saturdays from 8:00am to 1:00pm, where Belluz Farms awaits you with a smile, plus plenty of fresh-picked berries, now in season!