Tour Sustainably in Orillia & Lake Country this Earth Day: Conservation, Farm-To-Table, Eco Practices and more

Tour Sustainably in Orillia & Lake Country this Earth Day: Conservation, Farm-To-Table, Eco Practices and more

Sustainable tourism and eco-travel advocate for responsible travel practices that prioritize environmental conservation, community engagement, and cultural preservation. In Orillia & Lake Country, many tourism businesses are looking ahead, implementing sustainability practices to ensure we can welcome visitors for years to come!  In celebration of Earth Day, check out some Orillia & Lake Country destinations making significant efforts to create sustainable experiences for visitors.

Explore the Outdoors

Couchiching Conservancy

Cassie Pellerin photo Couchiching Conservancy ALexander Hope Smith Nature Reserve    Cassie Pellerin Alexander Hope Smith Couchiching Conservancy

Since 1993, the Couchiching Conservancy has been committed to protecting the natural land in Orillia & Lake Country, supporting crucial habitats for plants and animals and whose conservation efforts are a valuable part of a healthy community. In this time over 14,000 acres of special natural lands, including globally rare ecosystems, have been donated for future generations; and of course, providing quality habitat and connectivity to prevent biodiversity loss.

The Couchiching Conservancy is constantly striving for increased sustainability. Beyond land conservation, sustainability is top of mind in the Conservancy’s operations. At Grant’s Woods Nature Reserve, the Conservancy’s office has geothermal heating and cooling, solar power, energy efficient lighting, on-demand water heaters, triple pane windows to reduce heat leaving the building, low-flush toilets inside/composting toilets outside, dots on windows to decrease bird collisions, and a rigorous waste sorting/reduction routine.

“We let the lawn naturalize and our volunteer gardener has been planting more native plants. We encourage carpooling where possible, and have bike racks for staff and volunteers who opt to cycle,” says Madeleine Fournier, Engagement Coordinator at the Couchiching Conservancy.

Other sustainability initiatives include organizing volunteer teams so that they live locally to their assigned nature reserve to reduce carbon emissions; encouraging people to keep dogs on-leash to reduce impact on forest and nature reserves; encouraging online download of our trail maps rather than printing, but when print materials are needed, use FSC certified paper.

Many of the Conservancy’s nature reserves are open to the public for hiking and learning about the biodiverse habitats across the region. Each year, their Passport to Nature program offers year-round experiences for those who want to explore the wild outdoors. To kick-off the 2024 program, join the Conservancy on Saturday, May 11th for a “Discover Trails Day”!  Connect with volunteer trail ambassadors at one of three locations. Pick up resources, do an activity and learn about what you could see along the trails.

In the meantime, start planning your outdoor adventure at one of these Couchiching Conservancy nature reserves in Orillia & Lake Country:

Photos by Cassie Pellerin

The Robert L. Bowles Centre

Robert Bowles Centre butterfly workshop Robert Bowles Centre

The Robert L. Bowles Centre in Ramara Township sets to support and foster individuals on their journey of sustaining a conscious relationship with nature. On 100 acres of land, consisting of forest, meadows, orchards, a pond and wetlands, the centre provides a natural sustainable venue for visitors to explore, create, learn and heal.

Through year-round seminars and workshops, with a focus on educational programs relating to nature and well being, there is something new for an outdoor enthusiast in each season. From mammal tracking on snowshoes in the winter to exploring and learning the importance of wetlands to observing and recording butterflies and dragonflies in the summer. Programs provide education on the importance of wetlands, known as the “kidneys of the landscape”, through 50+ acres of what is considered Provincial Significant Wetland.

“We often ask ourselves, are we doing enough to ensure we minimize our carbon footprint and leave a better world for future generations?” says June Crinnion, Manager at the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre.

The Centre operates of-grid, relying on renewable energy sources and conservation efforts are top of mind, with hiking trails for visitors to stay on the path to help protect plants and wildlife and environmentally friendly nature programs.

This spring, the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre will be planting 1000 trees on the property as part of Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program.

Learn more about how to visit and upcoming workshops and seminars happening at the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre.

Glen Oro Farm

 Glen Oro Farm horseback trail rides

Glen Oro Farm offers an Eco-Retreat in the canopied hills of Oro-Medonte focused on several key elements:- sustainability, the importance of our natural environment, connecting with friends and family, and simply experiencing the world around us which often is muted by the rush of our daily lives. Slow things down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life in the country and tap into your deeper self. Glen Oro allows guests the ability to learn more about our natural environment and its fundamental importance to us all, as well as educating people about agriculture and livestock.

Each of Glen Oro’s beautiful Explorer’s Tents, Stargazer Domes, or Galaxy Gazer Domes are equipped with compostable toilets and heated by either an environmentally friendly wood-pellet stove or more traditional wood stove. Fresh, clean water is supplied from the farm’s well, which taps into the Oro-Moraine Aquifer. The water is UV-filtered to ensure it is safe for drinking and discourage the use of bottled water.  Ultimately, the farm is trying to be mindful of its carbon footprint and help make a difference with the amount of waste produced.

Greening Festivals & Events

Mariposa Folk Festival

Mariposa Folk Festival compost and recycling program Mariposa Folk Festival cycling

For the past 15 years, Mariposa Folk Festival has prided itself on being an environmental leader in the live music industry. “We started with the elimination of all plastic water bottles, substituting with hydration stations,” says Office Manager Chris Hazel. “Next came insisting that all food and beverages at the festival be served on compostables.” As a result of these initiatives, over 80% of waste each year is diverted from landfill.

More recent sustainability initiatives include LED lighting, eliminating the use of generators, cycle-powered charging stations, encouraging shuttle bus and bicycle use, and more. Mariposa is looking to the future – planning for the next steps to ensure the festival’s climate footprint continues to shrink.

Learn more about Mariposa Folk Festival’s Greening Initiatives!

Farm-to-Table Dining

Eclectic Café

At its core, Eclectic Café believes in three things: using high quality local ingredients, picked at their freshest; supporting local Orillia farmers, and building relationships;and celebrating locally grown and produced goods. In combining these three ideals, Eclectic’s efforts mean knowing where their food comes from, investing money back into the community, and reducing environmental impact. Owner and chef, Melanie Robinson is no stranger to taking on a challenge. In 2015, Chef Mel was crowned Food Network’s Chopped Canada Champion and her culinary skills and creativity make Eclectic Café one of the must-eat spots in Downtown Orillia.

Part of the draw to visit Eclectic Café is the rotating menu – changing approximately six times a year, to cook with the growing seasons. Eclectic embodies the Farm-to-Table mentality in reducing their carbon footprint by supporting local.

Additionally, as part of Eclectic’s Take-Out program, they have introduced Friendlier Reusable Packaging to cut down on single use plastics with a use and return program.

Check out what’s in season on Eclectic Café’s menu!


100km Certified Restaurants

100km Foods is a wholesale local food distributor in Toronto connecting chefs with products from local farmers and producers. With their help, farmers gain access to large, urban markets, chefs gain access to delicious, farm-fresh food and consumers get to enjoy this food at local restaurants, hotels, and retail stores. 100km Foods is helping create a viable local food economy in Ontario. Orillia & Lake Country is home to a number of 100km Food certified restaurants. To receive this accreditation, a restaurant must be committed to sourcing the finest quality ingredients from 100KM Food’s Network of Local Farms.

Lighthouse 45 at Rawley Resort

Group of friends dining in restaurant

On the shores of the Trent Severn Waterway, Rawley Resort has been offering relaxing getaways for guests for over a century. One of the resort’s highlights is the culinary excellence of the Lighthouse 45 Restaurant, with lakeside views and a dining experience that celebrates the essence of Rawley Resort.

In celebration of the resort’s centennial anniversary, Lighthouse 45 revamped their menu to a curated selection of dishes that blend the best of local flavours, seasonal ingredients, and sustainability practices. The chefs at Lighthouse 45 understand they play a vital role in building a local food economy that ensures a more sustainable and equitable food system.

Check out what’s on the menu at Lighthouse 45!

Vetta Nordic Spa

Vetta Spalicious dining

Vetta Nordic Spa is not only a Finnish-inspired spa retreat, but also offers a fine dining restaurant and bistro where patrons can enjoy a beautiful menu prepared with locally sourced, seasonal fresh ingredients. Vetta is committed to taking a personal, community based approach to food. Coming from farmers, ranchers, and fishers in the local community, putting resources back in the hands of small businesses.

FeastON Certified Restaurants

Presented by the Culinary Tourism Alliance, a FeastON certification verifies that a business sources their goods and ingredients with purpose. Feast ON is North America’s largest and longest running local food certification program that recognizes businesses across the food tourism value chain who are committed to sourcing Ontario grown food and drink. They’re supporting Ontario’s farmers and makers that are working the land in ethical and sustainable ways.

The Common Stove

The COmmon Stove

Built around a wood-fired grill, cooking locally sourced meats & vegetables, with a farm-to-table ethos focused on local growers. Complimented by an extensive Ontario craft beer list, a curated and wide-ranging wine selection and an innovative cocktail menu, The Common Stove is the place to gather for good spirits, community and conviviality. The Common Stove is also 100km Foods certified.

Picnic Tapas & Bar

Cocktails being poured at PICNIC

In the heart of Downtown Orillia, Part old-world tapas bar, part old-town grocer, and deliciously fun. Chef Joel’s cuisine is inspired by the tapas bars of the Basque county (Southern France & Northern Spain) with a focus on seafood, cured meats, and raw foods. Picnic is also 100km Foods certified.

Provenance Wine Bar

Provenance Wine Bar

Provenance Wine Bar is an intimate, upscale wine bar in downtown Orillia serving an extensive wine list, paired with creative dishes featuring local ingredients. Their menu is sourced almost entirely from local suppliers, offer an extensive wine program, and source their beer from the best local craft brewers.

Quayle’s Brewery

Quayle's brewery hops yard cycling at quayles brewery

Nestled in the heart of Oro-Medonte, Quayle’s Brewery is not just a destination but a year-round experience with farm-fresh beers that resonate with the character of their origin. Fourteen taps pour farm-fresh beer, each a celebration of local tradition, brewing innovation, and heartfelt passion.

The brewery boasts a welcoming ambiance that reflects its dedication to community ties and sustainable practices. Visitors are invited to indulge in homestyle dishes crafted with local produce, thoughtfully paired with award-winning beverages. In 2022, Ontario by Bike named Quayle’s Brewery the Best Cycle-Friendly Business, with a belief in active transportation and bike-friendly spaces.


Locally Produced Markets

Rama Community Farm

Rama Community Farm Rama community farm mobile trailer

Rama Maawnjiydiwag Gtigaan is a community based farm owned and operated by the Chippewas of Rama First Nation.
“As a proud, progressive community we recognize the importance of providing fresh produce and food security to our community members and neighbours, in Orillia & Lake Country.” The large facility allows the farm to store vegetables and provide community-grown, zero-spray, fresh foods to the community throughout the year.

Throughout the summer you can find the farm’s bright, colourful Gtigaan mobile market station around Rama with fresh produce from the farm. The trailer’s design was created by Rama artist Chief Ladybird, representing Rama First Nation’s cultural connection to the area.



Oro-Medonte Farmers Market Farmers market produce

In the summer months farmers’ markets across the region sprout with fresh produce from local farms at outdoor markets! Whether you’re picking up ingredients for the campsite, or en route to the cottage, shopping at a farmers’ market can reduce your carbon footprint on food sourcing and supports local vendors and farms.

Find out more about our Farmers’ Markets:


Learn more about agri-tourism efforts in Orillia & Lake Country.