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328687_236450099814201_872622008_oKim Dietrich is a rural Ontario-raised mother and inventor. After a naturopath recommended a wheat-free diet to help treat her son’s eczema back in 2009, she soon discovered that cooking and baking without gluten was challenging. There was a definite lack of gluten-free baking products and mixes on the shelves in her small-town grocery store, so, like the ingenious mom she is, she set out to fix the problem herself.

Having grown up on a farm near Bornholm in Perth County where her family has been growing beans for over 35 years, Kim knew that beans were a great place to start. Starting with Romano bean flour, she looked for recipes that would appeal to children, then used simple trial and error. Bean flour is very dry, so she experimented with other gluten-free flours until she found a good blend.

After developing a line of products she felt proud to share, Kim started selling them at local farmers’ markets. As demand grew, she expanded to a network of retail locations throughout rural Ontario and the GTA. If you don’t happen to be close to one,  you can also buy directly from her online store.


To date, Kim has developed a line of bean mixes as well as gluten-free baking mixes. Her most popular baking mixes are Bean Brownie Mix, Spicy Carrot Cake Mix and Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. Having tried them ourselves, we can assure you these are some of the best gluten free baked goods we’ve ever tasted! Our personal favourite is the gingerbread cookie mix.

Kim recommends trying new things with the mixes, like using the shortbread cookie mix as the crust for squares. She also offers bean flour for sale for those who like to do a little inventing of their own. If gluten-free baking and cooking is a way of life for your family, give Full of Beans a try!



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Just a few of the many great reasons to shop in rural Ontario!!

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  • jennifer barnaby - I completely agree with your 8 reasons, especially #7, Service with a Smile. The thing I like most about buying locally is the personal relationship I’ve formed with the farmers and vendors. It creates a level of trust and accountability that one can rarely get from other buying venues.ReplyCancel

    • Sarah Koopmans - Thanks for your comments, Cheryl and Jennifer. Continue to spread the rural love!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Crotty - I love this and so true…not only for rural…but for any small town living…thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - You guys are the best! What a beautiful infographic. Sharing sharing sharing! Thanks for all you do to make a difference in the lives of small rural businesses like mine. xoReplyCancel

    • Sarah Koopmans - It is our great pleasure, Emily. Business owners like you inspire us to no end!ReplyCancel

  • {See} 2013 – A Ruralist Year in Review » Ruralist - […] Ruralist followers and sharing our content each week. Our “most tweeted” award goes to 8 Reasons Ruralist’s Shop Local. This post also wins our “most Pinned” award on Pinterest. We reposted this Ruralist […]ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - Such a great blog! There is nothing more rewarding as a small business owner than when people truly appreciate what we do. Looking forward to meeting lots of new folks in Creemore this summer! :)ReplyCancel


Be Social Media Savvy in Rural Ontario

Now in our fourth year at Ruralist, I’ve become much more familiar with the ins and outs of social media. I’m not going to profess to be an expert, but as a participant in the process of sharing the best things to see, do and buy in rural Ontario, I’ve definitely figured a few things out. Rural Ontario is rich with social media contributors who supply us with no end of inspiration; yet occasionally I wish that some people and businesses knew a few little tips to help us to more easily share and promote them. This list represents my observations on what helps and hinders small businesses and organizations who want to get recognized in social media.

10 Ways To Make a Great Social Media Impression

1: Make Yourself More Shareable. It’s hard to share great things if they’re not on social media. I’m so surprised at how many organizations do not have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. I would suggest at least having those two, but a Pinterest and Instagram account is good idea too. Obviously you need to manage these accounts, but if you make a point of updating your content at least monthly and you won’t get too out of date. Facebook and Twitter are the first places people will look for you in social media.

2: Support your Supporters. When people share your content, product or service you should show some appreciation. It’s free marketing, and for most rural organizations that’s tough to get. In fact, I’ll take it a step farther and recommend that you support those who support your supporters. In other words, if your supporters are getting some recognition from someone, why not share that? It builds goodwill and stronger social media relationships. Chances are you’ll also make a few new friends in the process yourself.

3: Be Authentic. Just because something is trending or “happening” you don’t have to jump on the bandwagon if it doesn’t fit your brand. Think about what your brand statement is and stay true to it. Unless you are representing yourself personally, I would treat your brand’s social media voice as a direct line to your customer, members and fans. What are they looking for from you? Be true to them.

4: Keep it Simple. Linking multiple social media platforms together into this giant maze of social media links is very frustrating. Not everyone is on every type of social media, so linking your Instagram to your Facebook to your Twitter might seem efficient, but it’s not be a good idea. At Ruralist we will almost never Tweet a Facebook link, it’s too risky that our follower doesn’t have a Facebook account.

5: Build a Community. Find others who share similar interests and shoulder up to them. Other social media users in your town, your industry or your circle are people you should care about. Forget the whole “competitive” thing and get with anyone with like interests. In rural communities you can make a HUGE impression if you act as one. Like and follow each other, support each other and never forget, in social media it’s always “the more, the merrier”!

6: Be Original. I recommend creating your own content as much as possible. Re-posting and sharing is fine, but you need to be there in person too. Add your own unique photos, observations, experiences and ideas. It’s a great way to get followers engaged and interacting with you.

7: Be Interesting. Stop and ask yourself, “who cares?” before you make a post. Is your content helping to entertain, educate, inform or delight your followers? If not, maybe it’s not that share-worthy. As social media evolves, I find this bar is getting set higher all the time, there’s just so much content out there. But, as long as you stick with tip #3 and #6, I’m pretty sure you’ll keep it interesting.

8: Use hashtags. Hashtags are those little keywords that you want to stand out (like #ruralistapproved). It makes it a lot easier to click on the hashtag in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find specific content. If you hashtag something, like your town’s name, just be sure there isn’t 10 other things with the same name (ex. Clinton – there are A LOT of other places called Clinton). We often add the county hashtag too. Check out the #huroncountyontario hashtag for some great content. And yes, we had to add the “ontario” part to the hashtag because there was already a #huroncounty in the state of Michigan.

9: Participate in Different Social Media Platforms. This point is a variation on tip #1. For followers to engage they may want to share your content on different platforms. You’ll likely find that each platform tends to treat social media differently. Our Facebook fans are quite different from our Twitter and Instagram fans, they respond quite differently from platform to platform. If you’re there you’ll likely get a chance to engage with a whole different set of followers.

10: Be Visual. This one should probably be listed as #1. Seriously, pictures say 1000 words. Take a minute to edit and clean up your photo before you post it. There are at least 100 fantastic photo apps available these days. Even a basic cropping is a big help. From what I understand photos are the most viral thing of Facebook, so if you’re not using photos, you’re missing out on follower engagement. If the reason you’re not sharing them is because you have no images to share, get a photographer to help you out! An investment in pro photos is always worthwhile. Also, if you have great images – let people share them. Don’t lock your images down so tight on your website — if your fans are going to use them, have faith that they’ll credit you. People are pretty aware of copyright issues these day. Many times I would love to share an image, but it’s just not accessible.

I’d love to hear your personal tips on how to be social media savvy in rural Ontario. What are your best practices and pet-peeves? Please feel free to share them with us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitter or Instagram.



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  • Abby - Great article! Lots of good tips & suggestions for standing out and getting your voice heard! :) thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Erin Roy - Thanks for your kind words Abby! Did we leave anything out? Please share your thoughts and suggestions, it’s an important topic for rural communities. –ErinReplyCancel

  • Bridget Fabi - Great advice @ruralist!ReplyCancel

Collage of 5 images of luxury camping

Camping or Glamping?

We’ve found five ways to kick your next camping trip up a notch! Enjoying the great outdoors can truly be a glamorous experience when you wake up in one of these stylish locales. Be sure to pack in a bottle of bubbly so you can raise a glass and toast your most stylin’ camping trip ever!

1.Oakwood Escape Luxury Prospector Tents – Situated between Canborough and Dunnville, Ontario. Oakwood Escape is the first Luxury Camping in southern Ontario. With large roomy fully furnished canvas tents. Camping in Ontario will never be the same. You can join them for the weekend or a whole season. Oakwood Escape is set among a Carolinian forest, with beautiful views from each tent. The local area has something for everyone, outdoor pursuits, wineries, sight seeing or just relaxing with a drink at the fire.

2. Gordon’s Park Tipi Tenting – Experience deluxe tipi tenting in the privacy of your own campsite in a wooded area of the park, with wooden floors, rain caps and comfortable foam sleeping pads. Picnic table, cook stand & campfire pits are included. All inclusive packages are also available. Located on Manitoulin Island, Gordon’s Park Eco Resort, Manitoulin is a unique outdoor destination offering camping, tipi tenting, stargazing and more. If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy your time on Manitoulin Island check out these 9 Great Reasons to Visit Manitoulin Island.

3. Happier Camper Vintage Trailers – Renting these little trailers in Amherstberg would be an memorable experience for a single individual or a family of 4. They’re small, easy to maneuver, lightweight, take virtually no fuel, can be towed with any vehicle, and require no extra insurance or brake lines. Known for their rigid, bold design, classic vintage style and comfortable interiors. Each trailer has been updated and restored to it’s original beauty with some added modern comforts like sound systems, iPod docks, heaters, ventilation fans and modern upholstery. There are currently 4 trailers available to rent.

4. Long Point Wilderness Suites – A tent with a shower?!? Take a break from the usual hotel experience! Long Point Eco-Adventures provides luxury glamping accommodations which are not only unique to Norfolk County’s Long Point area, but to Ontario! The Wilderness Suite’s design is purely Canadian with inspiration taken from one of Long Point Eco Adventures owners’ experience in Africa climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Wilderness Suites will provide the comforts of home with views, sounds and sensations seldom, if ever, experienced elsewhere in the world! Tastefully furnished to create an authentic and relaxed atmosphere, the decor has been picked to match with local tastes and history. Overlooking the amazing view of Long Point Bay, you can relax or try their zip lining and suspension bridges.

5. Yurt Camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park – Kick back and feel the lake breeze from your deck. Cozy up to the campfire and watch the sunset over the lake. Gaze up at the starry sky through the skylight dome as you drift off to sleep in a comfortable bed. The 10 yurts at Cyprus Lake are a modern version of a traditional dwelling used by the nomads of Central Asia. Yurts are a semi-permanent tent-like structure, circular in shape with a wooden lattice frame. Although yurts are classified as a tent, they are much stronger and offer better shelter from the weather. These yurts are 6m (20ft) in diameter and well-appointed with furnishings including a woodstove, beds, large deck and propane BBQ. Each yurt has a locking door.


P.S. If you’re heading out on a glamping adventure be sure to check out these 12 Apps essential for Rural Ontario living too!

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Team building getaways in rural Ontario Team building getaways in rural Ontario

Want to foster more interpersonal growth among your professional team members? Need a chance for your employees or co-workers to get to know each other in a more relaxed setting than the office? Team building retreats are a great way to help your staff establish stronger relationships and work together on something challenging and fun that won’t be reflected on their performance assessment.

We know how valuable those opportunities to bond with co-workers outside of the office are, so we’ve gathered some team-building activities from around Ontario that we think you should try with your staff. There’s something for everyone, from cooking to painting, from horseback riding to kayaking, from spa retreats to unplugged lodges.

1. Edge of Walton Challenge Course, Walton (formerly Above the Falls Challenge Course)

10 or more people | Prices upon request

Climb and balance your way to the top of a forty-foot tower, strengthen the trust levels of your team with low course activities, or take up the challenge of a mountain biking course. EWCC is no ordinary corporate retreat – it is outdoors in a natural environment, physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. Your success is based on personal growth. Improve group decision-making, develop confidence and connect with fellow workers — all without the usual distractions. Rob and the EWCC team will work with you to develop a program that really focuses on the areas your team needs to grow in.

2. Rawhide Adventures Ranch Life Getaway, Shelburne

Contact for capacity and prices.

Escape to the country and enjoy the peaceful ranch life as part of a custom corporate retreat package. Provide the organizers with your budget and expectations and they will work with you to design a package specifically for your group. Activities include horseback riding,hiking on Bruce trail, archery, fly-fishing, and snowshoeing and tobogganing in winter.

3. Voyageur Quest Retreat, Algonquin Park

1-3 nights | April to November.

Soak up the tranquil scenery of Surprise Lake as your team stays at the rustic Algonquin Log Cabin lodge for a few days. Take advantage of the lodge’s award-winning guided program and go rappelling, hiking, sunrise canoeing, dog sledding or snowshoeing. In the evenings, enjoy a steam in a floating sauna, bonfires, and delicious homemade meals at a round table alongside a 36-foot stone fireplace. With no electricity at the log cabin, you will soon forget the sound of the buzz of your BlackBerry and start humming along with the seasonal fauna.

The same adventure company also offers corporate adventures in Collingwood, Muskoka, Prince Edward County, and Toronto.

4. Treetop Trekking, Huntsville

Appropriate for large groups | Activities starting at 2 hours in length

Spend some invigorating time away from the office, swinging in some Ontario treetops on a ropes course or zip line adventure (starting at $60/person). Or, take it up a notch and take your team on a night trek, where a ropes course is navigated by the light of headlamps ($65/person, minimum 8 people). Add in some specific team-building activities such as survival challenges or group dynamic challenges.

Treetop Trekking has also has parks in Ganaraska and Stouffville, as well as two GTA locations and five locations in Quebec. Not all activities are offered at all parks.

5. Grand River Rafting, Brantford

90 minutes to 5 hours | 2 to 200 people.

Take your team on a river rafting trek between Hamilton and London, launching from the Brantford area. Choose between kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddling, or river tubing. Paddling lessons are available prior to the trek. This team-building option is even good for non-swimmers: the water averages only one metre deep. Plan your adventure so you can enjoy a shoreline barbecue meal, a river tripper lunch, or an evening dining reservation at recommended establishments.

Team building getaways in rural Ontario6.  Meetings and Retreats at Ste. Anne’s Spa, Grafton

Your team will experience ultimate relaxation at this spa and wellness centre. Choose from several unique locations for your group to meet, and enjoy dinner prepared by the Ste. Anne’s Chef in an intimate setting. You could even choose to engage in a cooking demonstration or hands-on class where your team can add to its culinary repertoire alongside professionals. Participate in workshops designed to help your team learn how to enhance wellness in the workplace. The animal lovers will enjoy the chance to help care for the horses, and the nature loving groups may wish to conduct a version of the Amazing Race or other outdoor adventures.

7. Wine Country Cooking School, Niagara-on-the-Lake

$2100 up to 12 people | Cost per person reduced with increased numbers | Capacity for fairly large numbers

At this cooking school within Strewn Winery, work in small groups to prepare a seasonal three-course meal which you will then enjoy together in the School’s dining room. They provide the aprons, recipes, instructors, and everything else you’ll need to work together to create an unforgettable meal. After the fun, each team member goes home with a set of the recipes used in the session. As an added bonus, you don’t have to do the clean-up!

8. Long Point Eco Adventure Park, St. Williams

Choose from a one-day getaway at $50/person, a two-day escape starting at $235/person*, or a three-day retreat starting at $390/person*. Adventures include ziplining (day or night), mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, stargazing, or a custom adventure designed specifically for your team and its needs.

If you decide to stay overnight, the wilderness suites, a.k.a. tents with all the amenities you’d need, would make for an unforgettable experience. Top it all off with wine tasting at the on-site Burning Kiln Winery.

*Prices based on double occupancy in wilderness suites. Accommodation for up to 30. Meeting area available.

9. Art Party at 4Cats Studio, Woodstock

1.5 hours of studio time + 30 minutes of party time | Prices vary depending on length of project and size of party

Create and collaborate! At a 4Cats Team-Building Party, have a laugh and discover the artistic side of your colleagues while you work together to create a masterpiece inspired by greats like Gustav Klimt and Jackson Pollock. More fun than paintball, and just as messy!

Themes: Choose from parties inspired by Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Klee, or Claude Monet!

You can also find 4Cats studios in the following rural Ontario locations: Caledon, Port Credit, St. Catherine’s, as well as several GTA locations.

10. From the Farm Cooking Classes, Ameliasburg

8 to 15 people | $85 + HST for 2.5 hours | Available March through November

Employees compete in an appetizer cook off with assigned roles in each group, such as project manager and food stylist. Judging is based on a number of components, including originality, based on ingredients sourced from the “surprise” table. From the kick-off “ice-breaker” exercise to the final presentation, this two-hour workshop, plus reception, is a unique way to build your team and have a fun afternoon together.

Stay nearby at the Huff Estates Inn, which also can provide your group with a meeting space large enough for 30 people.

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  • Camp Kawartha - Another great spot to try out a day, half day or even have us come to you for Team Building activities is Camp Kawartha! We are located just north of Lakefield, ON on the shores of Clear Lake and are able to offer a wide range of team building activities in addition to high ropes & low ropes courses and rock climbing wall. For further information check out our team building brochure online or contact our Administrative offices at 705-652-3860 or Toll-free 1-866-532-4597.ReplyCancel