Like many places throughout South Eastern Ontario, the Bay of Quinte is a destination with a combination of must-have experiences. From urban excitement to rural adventures, there’s a little bit of everything for the whole family to enjoy – exploring vibrant downtown areas, hiking scenic trails, sipping crafted beers, and enjoying delicious farm-to-table meals. All that and more, including browsing roadside farm stands and engaging with a collaborative small-business community.
Grills Orchards is one such business, which has been a staple in “The Bay” for over a century. Located a few minutes north off Highway 401 on Grills Road, just west of the City of Belleville, the orchard was originally founded in 1916 by the Grills family. Three generations ran the business proudly, turning Grills Orchards into one of Eastern Ontario’s most sought-after apple suppliers. The Grills family expanded the orchard from 10 acres to over 30 acres, added larger cold storage facilities and a packing house, and increased their fleet of delivery trucks to serve businesses across eastern and central Ontario.
Finally, in the summer of 1998, the Grills family decided it was time to let the apple fall a little further from the tree. It was then that Grills Orchards was sold to Randy and Diana McPherson. The couple took the reins excitedly and set themselves to making the business their own, transforming the wholesale-focused apple orchard into a more local-centric business. With a clear vision in sight, the McPhersons expanded the retail store, diversified their product offerings and established key partnerships with several local businesses in the area.
“It didn’t take us long to figure out what the future was going to be, while wholesale was and still is a significant part of our business, it wasn’t where our passion was.”
Of course, one thing remains the same at Grills Orchards – that special feeling you get when you visit a family farm. For some, it’s a feeling of nostalgia, like being a kid again and rediscovering an old family tradition. For others, it’s the sense of purpose you feel the moment you step foot in a farmer’s field. Or the freedom that comes with growing and picking your own food. Whatever it is, the McPhersons invite you to discover that feeling for yourself.
Grills’ Country Market And On-Farm Experiences
Under the McPherson family, Grills Orchards is constantly growing and ever evolving, yet you can always find apples on the farm. “We think it is important to keep growing Ontario’s 15 favourite apples,” says Diana, who’s happy to help you select the best kind for baking, making sauces or biting into straight off the tree. Along with selling apples, Grills offers a variety of products, such as:
- Baked goods, including pies, pastries and tarts
- Jams, honey and other preserves
- Ice cream, maple syrup and even hot sauces
- Fresh bread, baked beans and soups
- Homemade fudge (a local favourite!)
You can also purchase fresh vegetables from Grills as well as cheeses from Maple Dale in Plainfield and Black River Cheese in Prince Edward County. As a member of the Hastings County Arts Route, beeswax candles, pottery and other handmade crafts from local artisans are also available. Through their business partnerships, Grills Orchards sells an assortment of meats in their country market and bakery, too, which includes ethically-raised and locally-sourced beef, pork, chicken and turkey.
All of Grills Orchards products are available to purchase in store, and the majority can be bought online – online orders are packaged and ready for you to pick up at the store.
The McPherson family is proud to offer on-farm experiences to locals and visitors of the region alike. Come pick your own apples – or pumpkins – and enjoy an hour or two wandering around the orchard. Organize a school trip with your class of youngsters, where kids get the chance to learn all about life on the farm and have fun while doing so. Or get lost in the corn maze, which is a great way to spend a fall day with your family.
Grills Orchards also hosts a series of events throughout the year, like their Easter Scavenger Hunt and Family Fun Day.
Cultivating Your Local Experience
Grills Orchards is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet morning or savour a peaceful afternoon – it’s a place where you can slow down and revel in some old fashion fun. A visit to the farm gives you a chance to learn and reconnect with a less complicated way of life. And it gives you the opportunity to discover your next family tradition.
Come visit Grills Orchards, one of the Bay of Quinte’s local favourites. The country market is open seven days a week from 9AM–5PM all year-round, while on-farm events and experiences are seasonal.