So I got an email last week about a shindig going on up in Edmonton (my old stomping grounds) this Friday — the Sturgeon County Bounty local food event. Local chefs will be presenting food sown and grown in the area. Sigh. Too bad I’m not in the area anymore.
One of the drawbacks to country living — and I’ll admit, there are a few — is being far away from all the fun events like this one. And Home and Garden shows. And Canada Blooms. And Hort shows in general.
But I digress.
As I wallowed in my lack of County Bounty attendance, a pang of guilt struck my heart. I remembered that up the road a little out of my way is a market garden I have never visited. I’ve driven past the sign for Room 2 Grow lots of times; but usually on my way up to Edmonchuck so I’ve never justified a stop. Why am I worried about local food in Edmonton when I’ve got local food right here that I’m ignoring?
A cayenne pepper growing in the greenhouse. Also here are tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet and hot peppers.
So I repented and made a trip up there today (a whole 20 km, my odometer tells me) and had a visit with Heather, who runs the place with her husband Norm. They have about 2 acres of berries, vegetables, and herbs with the rest of their 1/4 section dedicated to raising bulls. It’s a laid back, unassuming place, with gardens of strawberries hiding behind tree lines and potato patches snuggled up against pastureland. They sell eggs, chicken, and beef as well. Heather (who is also an award winning artist) seems preoccupied with all the weeds she hasn’t pulled, but says she would “rather have it messy than have it full of who knows what.” She hands me a strawberry right off the plant and I taste the result of their zero chemical approach: the unbelievable flavor locals, tourists, and three local restaurants keep coming back for.
One of the ladybugs Norman released in the greenhouse to snack on the aphids. The Dodds rely on biological approaches like these to tackle any gardening problems.
I left with a bag full of strawberries, a cucumber, and several of the tastiest, most gorgeous tomatoes I’ve ever had.
Heather also reminded me that I have two different weekly farmer’s markets within a half hour’s drive of my house.
Drawbacks to country living, my eye.
So your challenge this week is to discover what kind of food opportunities are hiding close to you. I’ll bet you a sweet little strawberry they’re closer than you think.
Here’s a sampling of local food resources from across the country. Try Googling “local food” and your city or province.
Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association
Greenbelt Guide (Ontario resources)
Eat Local Manitoba
Select Nova Scotia