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Wholly Canadian Blog

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Wheels on Bus go. . .to the Farm!

Last week Friday was one of those days that made me so proud not only to be Canadian, but a Manitoban.

I travelled with Food Matters Manitoba, on a bus tour to visit two local farms. Food Matters is a registered charity that partners with northerners, newcomers, farmers and families to harvest, prepare and share good food. They engage Manitobans towards healthy, fair, and sustainable food for all.

Firstly, we visited Blue Lagoon organic farm. They grow a variety of organic fruits, herbs and vegetables, as well as raise pastured poultry.

When we first got off the bus, we were greeted by Lori Ann, the lady of the farm. My first impression of her was that she belonged in a children's story book. . . her bubbly personality and the kindest big blue eyes were akin to the grandmas you read about in storybooks!  We rode about on a hay wagon taking in the sights of their farm in a drizzle of rain (good thing I was wearing my Canadian-made Taiga rain jacket to keep me dry) and observed the vast efforts this farm took to upkeep.

I especially enjoyed seeing the turkeys and chickens that are moved about in their mobile cages everyday onto fresh alfafa.   Overall, I was overwhelmed with the amount of efforts this family puts into keeping this farm going. . .sun up to sun down. I'm sure if you calculated a farmer's wages per hour, it would be mere coins. When I asked her what got her up in the mornings, ie. why do this?. . .she responded with a story of when she used to teach school (it didn't surprise me she used to be a school teacher), and seeing the types of food children had in their lunches. . . and knowing she wanted to make a difference in the type of food that was available in our province.  Once again, I am convinced that passion (not monetary) is the fuel for a lot of our small and or/organic Canadian farms.

That day I tasted my first patty pan squash from Blue Lagoon organic farm, and loved it! A few weeks ago, I purchased their homegrown chamomile tea at a local farmer's market to make some homemade diaper spray for baby's bum. . .stay tuned for upcoming recipe {grin}

I previously wrote about asking the right questions, i.e.

Don't ask why organic/natural food is so expensive, ask why cheap food is so cheap. . .

The farmers on this tour exemplified that. . .


Then our bus took us to Zinn Farms. They specialize in pastured pork, poultry, rabbits, and goat meat.  And we sure got a whiff of farm-life. Wow! It's ever so healthy to be reminded of what farm-life is all about. {grin}

I've become accustomed to thinking of beef and chickens on the pasture, but never thought of pigs out on the pasture.  But of course, it make sense. Wild pigs naturally graze in the forest. This extra effort (of pasturing) is what sets this farm apart from other pork farmers--delivering quality meat the way nature intended it.

Free-range pigs at Zinn Farms

They gave us a sample taste of some of their sausages, and to say it simply, they are mouth-watering. I'm not sure I have ever had such a good breakfast sausage before. The hot italian, and souvlaki sausages were right up there too.  So I bought some of each {smile}.  My family enjoyed the breakfast sausages this last Sunday brunch, and tonight I put souvlaki sausages in broth with fresh garden carrots for a quick soup.  And served it with homemade sourdough crackers.  A nutrient-dense meal undergirded with localism and goodwill. It can't get any better than that.

Local organic spelt grain made into homemade sourdough crackers. Want to learn how to make traditional foods like these crackers. See this course coming to Winnipeg!


Why buy local?  Why take efforts in supporting these farmers?

Well, there are so many reasons. I wrote about some here. This farm tour simply solidified my passion for supporting local. We all win when we purchase from our "neighbours." And as I've mentioned previously, this paradigm is rooted {pun intended!}in goodwill that gives life to joy.

A few other hightlights of the day were meeting fellow Manitobans on the bus tour, who represent microcosms of goodwill that make our province great!

  • I met Kalynn Spain, from Small Farms Manitoba--who helped organize the farm tour. Small Farms Manitoba is an online space for farmers who consider themselves to be underrepresented by provincial commodity groups--featuring a farm directory that creates a synergistic provincial energy.  Looking for local vegetables or meat grown in Manitoba? Use her directory to help you locate it from a farm near you! Kalynn, a young female farmer herself, farms her own chickens and pigs and is quite simply an inspirational model for women.
  • Laurel Gardiner, acting chair of Food Matters. What a wonderful conversation we had over sausage! It's amazing what good food does. I loved hearing about her new grandaughter and the blessing she is to her family. I also found out that she is a cousin to Tracy, owner and farmer of Naosap Wild Organic Rice, who recently collaborated with Wholly Canadian by sponsoring our wild rice extravaganza giveaway. Check it out here!
  • Kreesta Doucette, exective director of Food Matters, whose gentle spirit and strong leadership were so evident in her speech. I didn't get to chat much with her, but if the bus tour exemplifies what Food Matters is doing, I say a job well done!
  • Anna Levin, who works with North End Cooking Classes, an extension of Food Matters, provides cooking classes to North End youth. It was such a joy meeting Anna and hearing about what she and her fellow colleague, Lissie, are doing within our city.
  • And of course, enjoying this bus tour with my friend, Lynne. . .a type of friend that everyone needs when beginning new ventures. . .

The whole day was a narrative of re-shaping Manitoba stories through food. . .

See our Wholly Canadian page for permanent links to Food Matters & Small Farms Manitoba.

As our tour ended, I told Kalynn, wouldn't it be great to have an organized farmer's market on wheels. . . It's great to support farmer's markets and enjoy the visual and tasty delights that fill our senses while meeting the faces of the farmers most often hidden from us when we purchase food. But it's quite another thing to purchase food straight from a farm. It provides a well-rounded sensory experience and appreciation that is second to none. But that's not all. It was a huge blessing for the farmers we visited. Instead of hauling their produce within their limited time & financial constraints, we came to them. . .

So as our Manitoba garden markets wrap up for yet another season, here's to enjoying and dreaming about real food and real farms all winter long. . .

Posted by Wholly Canadian at 7:00 AM 42 Comments