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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


Memories of when as children we lived next to a farm back in England. I like the idea of a farmer's market on wheels.
September 24, 2014 10:13 AM By Vesper
It's great to interact and meet the local farmers who grow our food. They deserve more recognition.
September 24, 2014 10:20 AM By Jana L.
Great idea! Everyone should go and visit a farm to appreciate the hard work and where our food supply is from!
September 24, 2014 10:41 AM By Doris Calvert
Great post1 We need to show appreciation to our local farmers and growers for all the work they do. They put their pride into their work and it is always a great thing to do to shop locally! I'd love to try some homemade sourdough crackers, looks delicious!
September 24, 2014 11:02 AM By Debbie S.
As someone who grew up on a farm I think its great that you visited a couple of farms. It so important to know where our food comes from and how it is grown/raised.
September 24, 2014 11:05 AM By Glogirl
It looks like it was a ton of fun. I wish there were classes here like the one coming to winnipeg, it would deffinitely be something I would be interested in. Thanks for the post!! This is exactly the kind of stuff I love to read about. Hope to see more farm visits and maybe even some farmer shared recipes!
September 24, 2014 11:35 AM By Amber Y
I grew up on a farm and I commend the farmer's for their fruits and hard labor.Thanks for this great post.
September 24, 2014 12:21 PM By Wanda Tracey
nothing beats fresh local food from farmers. our town does the 100 mile diet every year. I always get great tasty food from there. I like that I know where it comes from , and a heck of a lot fresher.
September 24, 2014 1:19 PM By Chandra O'Connor
What a fantastic tour.
September 24, 2014 2:30 PM By Carol M (Lushka S)
This is a great idea and way for people to connect with their farmers. I love this quote: Don't ask why organic/natural food is so expensive, ask why cheap food is so cheap.
September 24, 2014 2:45 PM By Maggie K.
Sounds like this was a great and informative (and tasty) day! Thanks for sharing!
September 24, 2014 3:01 PM By Jess
I totally agree that we need to be asking why is cheap food cheap! Sounds like you had a great day out at the farm!
September 24, 2014 4:19 PM By Nicole
That sounds like such a great experience! (for someone at any age!) It would be great to see more farm tours being offered here in Canada...to compliment the long list of vineyard tours and garden tours available :-)
September 24, 2014 5:54 PM By Autumn Reid
I'm a farm girl and appreciate all the farmers do.
September 24, 2014 6:49 PM By Heather Ritz
It sounds like a lot of care goes into everything they do. Nice to see that.
September 24, 2014 7:08 PM By Catherine Brown
Wow, impressive post. I have always had a huge admiration for how hard the farmers work. I esp appreciate those who work as humane as possible. When someone loves what they do and it shows and provides a service for others is a great thing in life. I would love to go on that tour myself if I ever make it out of Ontario again.
September 24, 2014 7:22 PM By Carey Hurst
What a great experience! I grew up on a small family farm and we grew everythingourselves. Now I support our local farmers markets and shops whenever I can! Thank you for a great post!
September 24, 2014 7:45 PM By Silvia D
My family and I always love visiting farms. It is important for me that my kids know where food comes from. Great blog post!
September 24, 2014 7:58 PM By Laura
Visiting a working farm is something all kids should experience at least once
September 24, 2014 8:01 PM By MrDisco
Living in a big city means I love being able to take our son to a farm - we don't get to experience that too often!
September 24, 2014 8:09 PM By Lisa M
love local farms and those crackers look yummy
September 24, 2014 8:30 PM By Maria McLachlan
I grew up n a farm & know the work it entails I don't tink most pepe do
September 24, 2014 9:03 PM By Suzie M
We also try to focus on feeding our family local food and some of it we are lucky enough to pick up directly at surrounding farms where our children are able to see how a farm works. As a child I remember the school field trips to local farms, I wish children still got to see this and maybe we would have a better respect for our food supply.
September 24, 2014 9:49 PM By Katy Emanuel
I love this true Canadian product - great work farmers!!
September 24, 2014 9:53 PM By Lynn L
September 24, 2014 10:55 PM By A.s.
I wish I can go, looks really fun!
September 24, 2014 11:07 PM By Yuen C
thanks for all the info ,i'm from manitoba too :) and always try to buy local
September 24, 2014 11:23 PM By Bernice
I live in the north where there are only a few farms. The owners work from morning to night in our short summers. It is truly a labour of love.
September 25, 2014 2:19 AM By DianeG
I really like the question you pose about "why cheap food is so cheap." Thanks for giving us an inside look into the farming process.
September 25, 2014 8:28 AM By Victoria Ess
Thanks for the information. If there's an opportunity, I would love to meet our local farmers here.
September 25, 2014 9:47 AM By Bons
It sound like you had a wonderful trip. I appriciate home grown as well. I've gone to Farmers Markets every weekend for most of my life. It really does give you a different perspective.
September 25, 2014 12:16 PM By nicolthepickle
After the trip to the farm(s), I can appreciate why organic food is more expensive. Those people really work, often against the odds of nature, and if anything impressed me, it was the sheer tenacity (aka, passionate commitment) of both those owners. Yes, we should get wheels under us to get to the farmers, who market. It was a day of awakenings!
September 25, 2014 12:17 PM By Lynne
What a exciting tour! Wish i can go too.
September 25, 2014 12:20 PM By Patrick Siu
I liked your The Wheels on Bus go. . .to the Farm! post. I am from Manitoba and grew up in the country and i always try to buy my vegetables from local farmers .
September 25, 2014 1:27 PM By Wayne Lecoy
sounds so much fun
September 25, 2014 2:46 PM By Mark V
i would love to get to know the farmers in my area
September 25, 2014 6:57 PM By charity konrath
Great post! What an exciting tour. We are slowly making the transition into eating more organic food. I also really like the question you posed "...ask why cheap food is so cheap". Honestly, good healthy food is worth the splurge hands down.
September 25, 2014 7:52 PM By Jenn Erin
This farm looks like a wonderful little place! Wish we had something like that here.
September 25, 2014 7:56 PM By Kayla Gilbert
I would have loved to go on this tour too! Sounds fun.
September 25, 2014 9:52 PM By Diana Z
I love the fact that you went to see where you food comes from! Most people have no idea how it all works!
September 26, 2014 12:54 AM By Rebby
I love farmers markets and enjoyed your blog very much. What a great way to spend the day, learning and tasting delicious food...and making new friends too!
September 26, 2014 6:17 AM By Lori Bazan
As a farmer I want to thank you for highlighting farmers, their produce and hard work.
October 5, 2014 9:43 PM By Linda Hoeppner

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