The Tincap bounty is sure to always delight and allows you to savour the flavours of the season.
Robert and Iris Dentz started Tincap Berry Farms in the mid-to-late 80s, sowing their first strawberries seeds in 1987. For them, it was a lifestyle choice. Or maybe the lifestyle chose them.
Growing up with farming in their blood—Robert from the Dentz Orchards and Berry Farm in Iroquois and Iris from a farming family in the Prairies—they are naturally drawn to the habitual nature of agriculture. There’s a season of working hard, with all hands on deck, and then there’s a season of rest and rejuvenation. Their upbringing also planted a love for really good produce and reinforced the importance of supporting their local community.
The farm gives us a chance to celebrate our passion for food and family. Our two kids, Terri and Jesse, work on the farm, and we have a great relationship with locals and the other businesses in the region.
Located in Brockville just off County Road 29, Tincap started as a strawberry farm, with raspberries being added shortly after. But the berry season is short, lasting only two months in the summer (June and July), so Robert and Iris diversified over years. Now, they grow a full range of produce from the spring until the fall, including:
- asparagus and rhubarb from mid-May to mid-June;
- strawberries and peas from mid-June to mid-July;
- raspberries in July;
- sweet corn, seasonal vegetables and preserves from mid-July thru August; and
- apples, pumpkins and squash in September and October.
Fresh cut flowers are also available throughout the summer, while items from other producers, like honey and jams, can also be purchased on the farm during the growing season.
Supporting Each Other And Growing Together
Farming is a family affair for the Dentz. Robert often shares machinery with his brother back in Iroquois, and all the growers in Brockville form a collective of sorts with each producer supporting one another. They share knowledge and resources, and rather than looking at other farm owners as competition, they are seen as friends instead.
The farming industry is great because it’s not that competitive, and that’s reflected in this area. For instance, we often buy strawberry plants or potato seeds altogether, and then we only pay one shipping fee.
Importing is expensive—for everybody, including the planet—and it’s a less sustainable food system. For this reason, the goal of the farmers in the region, and throughout South Eastern Ontario, is getting people to prioritize local food. It doesn’t matter to Robert and Iris if customers buy from their farm or their neighbours’, the main thing is getting people to buy local.
Brockville residents, as well as those who own cottages along the St. Lawrence River, are happy to oblige. Tincap sees a lot of regulars each year. Some have been visiting the farm since the Dentz’ adult children were infants, while stopping at Tincap is a ritual for summer cottagers from Montréal, Ottawa and Kingston.
Plus, more and more people are choosing to support local businesses in response to the global pandemic. They want to know where their food comes from, and having a relationship with those who produce it is more important than ever.
On The Farm And At The Market
Tincap Berry Farm is open seasonally from Monday to Saturday, selling their goods on-site in their barn market, while also featuring a booth at the Brockville Farmers’ Market. When the crop yield allows them to, the Dentz family operates three satellite stands during the strawberry season: one in Brockville, one in Prescott, and one in Gananoque.
To make it even easier for people to purchase local foods, Tincap hopes to add a commercial kitchen space to the barn in the next few years. The idea is to eliminate some of the preparation needed for customers to put food on their tables.
With a full butternut squash or whole cabbage, there’s some work involved in getting it on the table, but at the Superstore customers can buy prepackaged, precut foods. The dream is to offer them healthier options sourced from their own backyard.
Aside from that, the Dentz family’s ambitions are to remain a small farm that has a big impact within South Eastern Ontario, stating “we just like growing and producing food for the people who live here.”