When you finally return home after being away for a while, it takes time to get reacquainted with the place. My studies, along with those of thousands of students across Canada, take me out of my home province. For a minimum of eight months each year, I live in Newfoundland, an hour and a half by plane from Nova Scotia. Although summer for many families is known for travel and road trips, it is difficult to return home after so long and have any desire to be anywhere but there. So for my family, this is the spring of seeing Nova Scotia. Our province has hidden gems all over; we have a responsibility to find them.
To this end, we headed out in the car last week down the Annapolis Valley. We were planning to grab a coffee and a snack, then hit up Nova Scotians’ favourite second-hand clothing chain Frenchy’s, where clothes are arranged in large apple bins and you have to work hard for a find, with almost everything priced around $4.00. Unfortunately, we had left a bit late and arrived at Wheaton’s Cider Press Café just in time for it to close. (We also learned just days later that Wheaton’s had caught fire less than 24 hours after our visit. Hopefully they’ll be back in business soon!)
Driving back into Berwick – the apple capital of Nova Scotia – we stopped at Kellock’s, to find them also closed. Finally, we pulled up outside North Mountain Coffee Co. in Berwick, just as they were closing up. We began walking away only to hear the barista call out, “Come in, we still have coffee!”. We did not have to be asked twice.
The two baristas, even as they tried to clean up, were lovely. They gave us the last of the coffee, and offered delicious treats including apple tarts and ginger cookies. The reading nook in the corner was covered in floor-to-ceiling shelves of picture books, local novels and texts on organic gardening and vegetarian cooking.
We sat near the counter, but a large, bright room- also with books for sale – offers additional seating. Outside, four picnic tables with umbrellas are available for overflow on sunny days.
After a day of disappointing encounters with “Closed” signs, North Mountain Coffee was a delicious reward for our efforts.
Berwick is a sweet little town, with a population of just under 3000. It is known by singers and church-goers in Nova Scotia as home of the United Church Camp, where I spent weekends at choir camp every year during middle school. North Mountain Coffee has established itself in a lovely, new-looking building on Main Street, near Frenchy’s on Front Street, where we did eventually stop.
Less than seven minutes outside of Berwick we found Glad Gardens Family Farm Market and Greenhouses where we stocked up on seeds for our summer planting. Less well-known than many nurseries in the Valley, it was very calm, with knowledgeable staff willing to assist, and a wide variety of seeds, annuals, and herbs.
Berwick is located approximately 90 minutes from Halifax by car. It is on both the Acadian Lines and Kings Transit bus routes, as well as the Annapolis Valley Trail System.