Welcome to Pretty City Guides – my new eco and conscious travel and lifestyle series! Being an air force spouse means that I move around a lot, and I thought since I have the chance to experience multiple cities, why not pass that experience onto you! Whether you’re new to living in these cities or just passing through, I hope that these guides can help you find the best they have to offer!
For my first Pretty City Guide, I’m focusing on the city that I lived in from April, 2011 to July, 2012 and then again from July, 2014 to July, 2017: Quinte West! This part of Ontario has a special place in my heart not only because it’s the gateway to the gorgeous Prince Edward County (more on that later), but it’s also the place where my fiancee and I rented our first house together and later owned our first house together (one of the reasons why we’ll be married there next year).
Welcome to this Pretty City
Having moved around a lot (I’ve lived in 9 cities throughout my life), it’s actually surprising how eco-conscious this town of 50,000 people really is. Quinte West has recycling and compost collection on a weekly basis, and they charge $2.50 for each bag of garbage that residents produce. If you happen to move there (this one goes out to my fellow Canadian Air Force spouses) and you’re looking for green resources, there are definitely some:
- Farmers’ Markets in Trenton, Prince Edward County, and Belleville
- A weekly fresh produce delivery service from local farms
- A local produce market that’s open year round
- Health food shops in Brighton, Trenton, Belleville and the County that sometimes include green personal care
But beyond those resources, there are some major points of interest that I wanted to point out:
I wish I found out about this sustainable flower farm earlier! Within a month of moving, I visited the farm and had a chat with the founder, Melanie. Before I discovered the farm, I legit thought that the only way to go sustainable with flowers was to purchase paper versions from Etsy (yes, the conventional floral industry is that bad). But this local farmer (honestly just down the road from where I used to live) showed me a better way.
Having grown up on the farm, Melanie produces some of the most gorgeous flowers I’ve seen. And thanks to her equally gorgeous Instagram feed, her blooms are in high demand.
But part of what makes this farm sustainable is its small size. On offer is a summer-long weekly subscription service (woe is me that I missed out on a summer of sustainable bouquets!), a weekend flower stand for picking up one-time bouquets, and floral arrangements for weddings (um, yes please! Hint Hint). If I hadn’t moved this summer, you can bet some of these beautiful poppies, peonies and my fave ranunculus from the farm would make it into my insta feed. And it’s inspired me to search out small, sustainable flower farms here in Manitoba, where I live now.
If you live in Quinte West or are passing through on your way to Prince Edward County, you’ve got to check out this farm!
My of my pals who lives just outside of Quinte West has been in love with Ste. Anne’s Spa for years. It’s located technically outside of Quinte West, but is just a stone’s throw away from my old neck of the woods in Grafton, Ontario. It’s a luxury-style spa with beautiful grounds and facilities, and offers services such as massage, facials, body wraps and polishes.
As for being eco-friendly, much of the fare that they offer in their restaurant is made from produce, beef and honey that comes from their own gardens and property! And the other ingredients come from local farms. They also have a gluten-free bakery right on site.
However, it was when I saw them exhibit at May’s Holistic Beauty Expo in Toronto that their Skin Nourishment line of skincare caught my attention. This line of plant-based beauty is free from petrochemicals, PEGs, parabens, phthalates, SLS, synthetic dyes and fragrances. Plus, it’s manufactured in Ontario from many of the plants found on the Ste. Anne’s property.
If you’re in the area, treat yourself to some of their services and facilities, and pick up some of their skin nourishment as a souvenir!
Lavender is one of the cornerstones of green beauty. Having antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, lavender is added to a giant range of natural personal care. It’s also one of the most popular scents for soaps, candles, and body wash.
Prince Edward County boosts a lavender farm in Hillier that also hosts an annual lavender festival each July. But it also sells lavender body care, dried buds and oils for cooking, gift items, two varieties of lavender essential oils, and the lavender plants themselves. If you are into DIYs and are looking for a high quality source of dried or fresh lavender, you’ve got to check out their farm. And if you’re travelling through Prince Edward County during early July, check out their lavender festival for a demonstration of how essential oils are extracted and distilled!
Like many small towns in Canada, pickings can be a little slim in Quinte West if you’re looking to head out to dinner and you’re vegan or vegetarian. There are tons of amazing restaurants in Prince Edward County, but some of these tend to be seasonal because of the massive tourist influx during the summer. And in Trenton and Belleville, there are sushi and Thai restaurants that serve up vegan and vegetarian bites.
But my fave veggie dish in the area is the Utopia burger served at Burger Revolution, already well known by anyone who’s seen that episode of You Gotta Eat Here! It’s hands down one of the best veggie burger that I’ve ever had, served in a teensy burger joint in Belleville. And if you’re ready for dessert, you can head up the road and ask for some vegan treats at Glazed and Confused.
It’s no surprise that as a part of Ontario with its own microclimate, Prince Edward County is one of only a few areas in the province that has the right conditions for growing wine grapes. And though not as mature as Niagara Falls vineyards, it’s got some amazing wineries to visit. It boosts my fave sparkling rose, Pixie from Rosehall Run. But the area also has cideries, breweries, and even this farm which produces mead (a wine made from honey). And it is divine.
But although their mead is how I discover Honey Pie Hives & Herbals, it’s really a local honey and herbs farm that produces soaps and shampoo bars, lotions and lip balms, herbal seasonings, teas, and of course honey and beeswax candles.
If you’re familiar with colony collapse disorder, you’ll know that it’s important to support small, organic bee farms like this one. And with Monty Pythonesque artwork and high quality products, Honey Pie Hives & Herbals makes that easy!
Those are my picks for all things eco & ethical in Quinte West and Prince Edward County. Have you visited the County? If so, which ones are your fave spots? Let me know in the comments!