OSFM Quarterly Local Food Tour – Picnic Edition
One of the most epic places in the city of Edmonton to be able to support your local small businesses, find sustainable and healthy food choices and get that “Farm to Fork” experience is the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market.
The market started outdoors in 1983 in the space that is now the free parking. It is now Edmonton’s largest year-round indoor market with approximately 10,000 people through the door each Saturday.
A team of Edmonton bloggers was invited to a meet and greet with some of the local producers and farmers this past weekend. This was their first “food tour” and they called it the “Picnic Edition”.
It was an early start for some, but the market gets busy (and quite crowded) quickly.
After we were all introduced to our lovely Hostess, April, we were on our way to our first stop which was Sunworks Farm.
Sheila was very passionate when she was talking about her farm and the way that the animals are treated humanely and respectfully. Coming from an indigenous background myself, this is something that has always been important to me. The animals should be treated well, killed humanely and we should use as many parts from snout to tail as we are able. Sunworks does all those things.
Their farm was started because their daughter had such severe allergies and food sensitivities that they needed to be able to grow their own food. They started out feeding themselves and through a few requests started raising a little bit more, and a little bit more until it grew into what it is today. No farming background. Amazing!
Free range, BCSPCA certified humane, grass fed, certified organic and “as close to nature as possible”.
These folks are passionate about their farm and their animals and it shows. The end products are delicious, good for you AND celiac safe and allergy free. The Chicken Moroccan sausages are so good.
Sunworks has an open farm day on September 3. Go and meet the family, have lunch and get a tour. You need to REGISTER to attend. See you there!
Our next stop is now one of my new favourite things to eat!
Alex from Golomein Noodle House introduced us to his fresh, healthy and convenient meal packs.
There is always a lovely story on how every small business started and Alex’s story is inspiring as well:
“Our Dad developed the recipe initially 52 years ago where he worked the streets of Brunei, as a hawker trying to earn enough money to support a family of 10. Struggling agains all odds, he developed the awesome recipe he would later bring to North America”.
He made his noodles only to serve his friends, family and coworkers charging them only for their gas and their time it took them to visit his home. He even delivered packages to his mother who always looked forward to the tasty treat.
The fabulous noodles caught on and before long, everyone wanted more. People searched for the delicious meals, but they were at the mercy of whenever Dad felt like making them and his kitchen was the only place this amazing taste could be found.
Alex, the youngest was unable to sleep one night , so he decided to do a marathon session of watching 5 episodes of “Dragon’s Den”. Tired of beating his head in the corporate world, he decided a change was in order.
It brought back memories of the work his Dad put into his noodle recipe that he created over 50 years ago. The noodles were so good that Alex’s childhood friend, Paris, would rid his way too small bike halfway across the city just to eat the noodles.
Recognizing the incredible opportunity before him, he immediately told his 2 brothers, Albert and Allen. Alex’s enthusiasm was infectious and it didn’t take much convincing to persuade his 2 siblings to join his quest to bring their dad’s noodle recipe to the masses. All 3 brothers were excited about continuing their beloved Dad’s legacy and making noodles for future generations.”
For the meal packs, the noodles are lovingly prepared and then packaged in a neatly folded square of butcher paper. They are then frozen. They are sold individually ($11) or in packages of 5 ($50). You simply pop the frozen package, paper and all in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes and then unfold the package to open and enjoy! You don’t even need to transfer the contents to a plate or bowl. They are available in beef or pork.
If you crave them like I do, the family has a restaurant waaaaay in the south with a more varied menu. Worth the drive!
Next stop was Mojo Jojo Pickles and Preserves. Johwanna has been an Edmonton staple for many years now. She is definitely a pickling artist and knows how to make the vinegar bend to her will!
Salted caramel pear butter… Do I even need to say anything else? We were treated to some very lovely marscapone grilled cheese sandwiches with some equally lovely pear butter to dip it in. This was simply joy on the tongue! The pear butter would go well with so many things, as do many of her pickled veggies. Charcuterie anyone?
Johwanna was also sampling “Shrubs” which is a drinking vinegar. I had no idea how tasty they are. I am a new fan!
If you can’t make it to the market, Johwanna has a store on the website where you can purchase most of the products.
Nancy from Market Pizza was our next stop. “Delicious take & bake pizza made with the finest ingredients”. The booth smells amazing! They offer samples all day.
If you would like to make your own creation, they also offer frozen, ready-made crusts. They have a secret recipe that makes it the lightest pizza crust that I have ever come across. It is not a thin crust, but it is light and airy, almost like the dough is whipped before baking.
The take & bake pizzas are frozen and are $15 each. There are some amazing flavours available and it will be a different mix every Saturday at the market. I tried the Bacon Cheeseburger and the Donair pizzas. It was like you were eating a cheeseburger or a donair, just a flat version without the traditional bun or wrap. Both of them were delicious, but my favourite out of the two was the donair pizza. A donair eating experience without all the mess!
I can’t wait to get my hands on another.
Monica with Rainbow Acres was our next stop. Berry farm extraordinaire!!
How Rainbow Acres farms differently:
From Dave’s own market garden specific equipment to their modified old granary pack house, Dave and Monica are masters at making use of materials to fit their needs. This kind of instinctual innovation is part of what makes their operation so unique.
Their incredible variety of crops is a result of their eagerness to try anything new that comes to their attention. They like to “dabble” in many crops to see what will thrive on their land and add to their already diverse produce offerings. Anytime something new comes up, they want to try it out.
When they started in 1989, Dave and Monica were cautioned against doing fruits and veggies at the same time because their harvest seasons overlapped. While it can be an intense work load, they’ve been making it work for years. While most of their fruit is used in processing their delicious jams, jellies and juices, in her commercial kitchen Monica also processes many of the veggies that are leftover from market. To make sure none of their product ever goes to waste, Rainbow Acres regularly donates left over fresh produce to the Edmonton and Leduc Food Banks.
And those are just the Coles notes! Rainbow Acres is famous for their carrots, but they have a wide selection of preserves to choose from at the market. These are some hard working farmers!
I used to help my Grandmother with the canning, pickles and jam. It’s a lot of hard work! Rainbow Acres makes it easy for you to stock up for the winter and to pop a few of their products into a gift basket at Christmas time (its close folks!)
Martina’s Vegan House, where veggies are sexy, is up next.
I got the impression that the Peanut Brittle is what Martina’s passion is. Vegan Peanut Brittle is available in the regular version, or the spicy version. The spicy version is amazing.
Martina has frozen vegan meals, soups and stews at her booth for all of you folks that are passionate about plant based eating!
Doef’s Greenhouses visit was a bit of an eye opener. The family has been farming since 1979. What is grown today is all done hydroponically in greenhouses which allows vegetable production all year round. Currently the greenhouses span 11 acres and employ 50 people. I had no idea that we even had such an operation near Edmonton.
Tomatoes are what they started with, their grape tomatoes are juicy and full of flavour. The main crops continue to be Long English cucumbers, mini cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers, with small amounts of eggplant and hot peppers as well.
Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery was the next stop. My Grandfather kept bees so I was fortunate to see the whole process of how the honey was extracted from the hives. A sweet treat for me as a child was to be able to chew on the beeswax that had a bit of honey left behind. As an adult I still love the smell of beeswax and used to be obsessed with making candles.
From the website:
“Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery straddles the fine line between naughty and nice – and sometimes more. Flirtatiously flavored and seductively styled, our full-bodied wines and mead are always up for a one night stand or an evening rendezvous.
But, you can’t have your Marilyn Monroe without your Jackie-O.
A little restraint can make a true romance.
So how do you like it? The purity and innocence of the Bird? Or the seductive tease of the Bee?”
The statement above from the website sums things up quite nicely. Naughty names like “Kinky Cranberry” and “Big Tease Raspberry” adorn the bottles. If you visit the website, it gives you the sassy profile of the wine and tells you what it pairs best with.
The wines and meads are available at some liquor stores in Edmonton. Liquor Connect can help you find them!
Ben was next up with Farm Fresh Lamb/Blacksheep Farm
Another reason why I love the farmer’s market: Sustainably grown & humanely treated without the use of animal by-products or growth promotants. No antibiotics, no animal by-products. The sheep are fed a mixture of oats, barley, yellow peas and alfalfa hay grown on the farm in the Peace Country, and allowed to pasture graze during the summer months.
I find that when you treat the animals well and give them a good diet, the meat tastes much better. With lamb, if it is butchered properly, it doesn’t have that “gamey” taste that a lot of people complain about. I am going to be looking up all kinds of lamb recipes now!
“Mighty Trio Organics is a family owned and operated business located on a beautiful acreage just outside of Redwater Alberta. They are both a manufacturer and distributer of highly nutritious, fresh foods such as hemp, flax, and canola oils. This allows them the opportunity to interact directly with customers and seed producers. By bringing people closer to the farms where their food is grown they are able to provide the freshest, most nutrient rich foods available. Mighty Trio Organics values the environment and supports local businesses, which is why they only use seeds that are grown as close to their facility as possible. By supporting Mighty Trio Organics you are also supporting local farmers and because their products have not traveled great distances, you are also making a friendlier choice for our planet. Mighty Trio Organics provides you and your family with the fats, fibers, proteins and nutrients essential for healthy bodies and minds. To your good health!”
This food tour was an absolutely wonderful experience. It gave me the opportunity to get to know the people behind the brand. I am very passionate about shopping local, but not necessarily someone that will approach the owners to get to know them. This was very informative and very fun.
I look forward to meeting more of the vendors for the next round, and sharing them with you!