This is the second pre-Veggie Lovers’ Club check in this spring. If you missed the last one, you can check it out here!
Today marks 1 month until our program begins! With that rain that we’ve gotten lately, we now actually know that things will grow and there will be veggies in a month… It was getting a little hairy there. The past two weeks we have transplanted out most of our seedlings, which need water, and with the lack of rain it was beginning to look like we might have to spend time irrigating. We can irrigate until we’re blue in the face but it will never compare to a good electrical storm with a decent amount of rainfall. So, we were doing the happy dance the past few days!
If you’re like everyone else in the Veggie Lovers’ Club this year, you registered back in February or March and we’re thinking, “This sounds like fun”, and now you’re remembering, “Oh yeah, I signed up for that veggie thing… What was that all about again??”. Never fear, Teri is here and I’m your guide to how our program works. It’s not all that complicated but it IS different than just going to the grocery store whenever you need to, so we will be giving lots of support, especially as things get started. If you want a refresher on how everything works, check out (& bookmark!) our Membership Guide on our website!
Our online Veggie Guide is your hub for all you need to know about the different veggies we put in your bag — Keep it in mind as we start our season together! It’s been said by a few members that our communication and resources are one of the things that sets our farm apart from the rest, so make sure you make use of what we make available to you so that you maximize the “bang for your buck” in this program!
In this newsletter I am sharing our #1 most frequently asked question & answer that folks have before the program starts, as well as some great tips for salad season, and then a Meet Your Farmer section which introduces all of us on the farm team! We hope you can give it a read and use it to help your excitement keep growing!
If you can’t wait for fresh veggies, you actually don’t have to! We have a beautiful crop of spinach that is being handled by James and Angie at Chez Angela Bakery right now. There are three more dates to connect with our spinach: Tuesday June 5 or Thursday June 7 from 4 – 6 pm, or Saturday June 9 from 10 am – 1 pm. They have a pop up market at 1228 Rosser in the YFC building, across from the Global Market. In addition to spinach, their offering includes locally made slow dough and yummy creations… I’m a big fan of everything that they make!
In addition the spinach option, in less than 2 weeks our Friday market will begin in front of Lady of the Lake Cafe. Starting Friday June 15 from 10 am – 2 pm and running every Friday from then on until the end of September! We are always so excited for the market season to begin. For the first market we expect to have nearly a full selection of pickles and preserves (no dill pickles though), salad, spinach, green garlic, green onions, herbs, beets (last year’s), pea shoots, sunflower shoots, edible pansies, radishes, kale, pails of raw honey from Fresh Roots Farm, Quinoa and Quinoa products from Tamarack Farms & more!
Please note that due to a health issue last summer Kara from Dunrea Farming Company will not be returning to markets this season with her sourdough and croissants, however I do know a place in town where you can get some!
The most Frequently Asked Question we get from registered Veggie Lovers is “what do I do if I have to miss a pickup (with advance notice)?”
There are a couple of options:
1) Find someone to pick up on your behalf. This can be anyone, a friend/family member/neighbour, anyone you want to share your veggies with (and this can be a really exciting thing for the right person!). This option is the easiest for us and also provides us with an opportunity to connect with others who might be interested in the Veggie Lovers’ Club in the future. It’s not necessary to let us know if you are doing this, but it’s totally ok to, as often it happens that the person who is supposed to pickup forgets (Rookies! lol).
2) Give notice to skip a week. Let us know via email by Monday prior to the pickup and we won’t make your bag that week. You can tell us as soon as you know the dates (even right now, if you like) because I have a system for keeping track! When you give us advance notice that you will be missing a pickup we will put the missed week onto your account as credit. You can’t redeem the credit for cash, but you CAN request a “double bag” in the future, or use your credit towards purchases at the mini-market at the pickup or towards a pre-order for the pickup. This way you still get the full value of your Veggie share in a way that works for your schedule.
What happens if I forget to pickup? (no advance notice given)
If you miss a pickup without advance notice, you will pay for that week and not get your veggies, so please set appropriate reminders so that this doesn’t happen! There is nothing more annoying that trying to connect folks with their veggies after the pickup, and we are getting firmer on this every year as we have complicated logistics and busy lives. Think about it this way: we have worked for months planning, planting, tending, growing, harvesting, washing, packing, and then delivering your vegetables. Of course things happen and you might forget once in a while– I would too! However, when veggies aren’t picked up sometimes I’ve found a home for them before they make it back to the farm, or if they do make it back to the farm we have to put them away properly and some things can’t be kept for future use (eg Packaged Arugula has a 3-4 day window to sell it). Basically, we incur MORE work when you miss a pickup, so it’s asking too much to contact us and try to pick them up because you’re asking us to incur even more work– and the veggies you pick up usually aren’t the same ones you would have gotten Tuesday. After watching Mom’s hard work be interrupted for years at the main farm, at the size that the farm is now Jon and I have made a decison that we do not allow farm pickups. We just don’t, foot down. We live and work here and if we’re here we’re either working or enjoying time together as a family, and though we really like all of you we want to keep the visiting to farm tour days, the pickup location, and the market!
For much of my life, I didn’t eat salad. What I thought a salad was supposed to be (just raw veggies) compared to it’s potential was pretty sad. It’s all about using the freshest, local-est greens you can get your hands on, and then adding a bunch of yummy stuff on top to make those greens shine!
Your veggie bags are filled with seasonally ripe vegetables, and so they will be greens-heavy in the first weeks because that’s what is ready first on the farm! Be warned, there will be lots of salad coming your way!
Want to take your salads to another level? Check out these tips👇:⠀
-Choose seasonal produce, for the best flavor & nutritional value.⠀
-Use a variety of colors & textures to maximize appeal. From creamy avocado, to spicy greens, to sweet red raspberries, and of course, something with crunch.⠀
-Don’t be afraid to add non-traditional salad ingredients (I’m talking about you, little boxes of leftovers sitting in the fridge👌).⠀
-Don’t limit yourself to cold salads. Try grilling up your fruits, veggies, or other ingredients to add a new layer of flavor.⠀
-Try making your own dressings using ingredients that you love. You may be surprised what a difference fresh dressing can make!
(From Nutritionist Melissa Groves @avocado_grove_nutrition on Instagram)
If you’re like me and like to be prepared and plan ahead, having some nice oils and vinegars on hand and maybe some homemade dressing would be a great way to get prepared for your first CSA pickup on July 3!
Chez Angela just started carrying a phenomenal Greek Olive Oil that puts all the rancid/counterfeit* EV olive oils on the store shelves to shame, and I know Lady of the Lake also stocks lots of nice oils and vinegars, too.
*Check out the Olive Oil episode of the Gastropod Podcast if you’re into learning more, it was good!
Meet Your Farmers
…Because that’s one of the main reasons you signed up for this, right?!
I’ve asked all of my co-workers to write a short bio for our website, and I have now added them to our website to be on there permanently. I wanted to make sure everyone highlighted what they most wanted to share about themselves, because that’s an interesting perspective, more interesting than if I wrote it! My Gran wrote her own eulogy and it was incredible, very different than if any of us wrote it. So, it is in my voice because this whole website is, but know that each person got to work closely with me on their biography.
Here we are!
More About Stephanie Dillon (Pawluk)
Stephanie’s knack for growing vegetables was nurtured in her mother’s large household garden, which existed out of necessity as she was one of eight children! Her sister Nancy (now deceased) in Winnipeg who also had a greenhouse business and market garden was a mentor for Stephanie and her sister Jayne still helps at the farm a lot, especially in canning season. Stephanie began growing vegetables full-time in 2001, after leaving a career teaching Early Childhood Education at the local college. She made a name for herself at the Brandon Farmer’s Market in the Town Centre, which she attended for the first 10 years of Brown Sugar Produce. In 2012 she purchased a concession trailer which saw a very successful first year selling in the parking lot of Lady of the Lake. In 2015 she was thrilled to welcome her daughter Teri back with husband Jon to join the business, and in 2017 she got her dream of becoming a Grandma fulfilled!
Stephanie is happiest when in the garden, but in the winter when she can’t be she enjoys making puzzles, playing Bingo with friends, and spending time with her granddaughter. Her husband Paul ran a used harvest equipment business in Brandon for many years and grew up on a farm and has been a big support in the business over the years. In 2019 they will celebrate 40 years of marital bliss!
More About Janelle Vachon
Janelle Vachon currently lives in Brandon and grew up on a cattle/grain farm south of Oak Lake, Manitoba. She is a recent graduate from Brandon University with a degree in Environmental Sciences with the goal of pursuing a Master’s degree in the Environmental Sciences/Paleontology field beginning in September 2018 at Brandon University.
In the winter, Janelle’s main passion is curling. For the past two seasons she has curled competitively on a team based out of Winnipeg. Over the course of these two seasons this has involved a lot of traveling and five months living in Winnipeg to curl full-time. Curling for Briane Meilleur, her team was able to make it to the Olympic Pre-Trials with a 4-2 round robin finish and losing the final to advance to Olympic Trials. Her team also made it to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts held in Killarney, Manitoba. Janelle spends countless hours on the ice and in the gym training for competition.
Janelle is fortunate to have the opportunity to work her summers for Brown Sugar Produce. She loves being outdoors and working with her hands making this the perfect fit for a summer job that also works around her curling schedule. She also LOVES good quality locally grown vegetables like those grown and sold by Brown Sugar Produce!
Other hobbies/interests that Janelle has include motorcycles, natural healing and food as medicine, reading, hitting the gym, and hiking.
More About Jon Jenkins
Jon Jenkins grew up in Earnscliffe, Prince Edward Island with the ocean as his backyard. He discovered his passion for growing at a young age in his Dad’s large garden, as well as his love for digging clams!
After completing high school in Ottawa and exploring post-secondary options, Jon went WWOOFing on a goat farm on Pender Island. From there he found a 2-year apprenticeship at Glen Valley Organic Co-Op, where he learned organic farming skills from two mentors, John Switzer and Alyson Chisholm. He got out of farming for a few years and did a carpentry apprenticeship, spent 8 months traveling in New Zealand, and eventually found himself working at the Calgary Farmer’s Market, where he met Teri.
Jon enjoys a wide range of other activities when he is not farming. He is a self-taught DJ on digital as well as turntables. He also loves fishing, listening to podcasts, karate, he plays the didgeridoo and made his own, plays banjo, he’s made his own shoes and loves to sew, he snowboards, he’s run half marathons and also built his own ninja obstacle course in our barn. He’s traveled to Mexico and to New Zealand twice; gone skydiving; worked at a summer camp; he has an interest but a healthy skepticism about all things paranormal, unexplained, and otherworldly, as well as a ton of knowledge about astronomy and outer space; he’s great with animals and loves kids, especially his daughter Myrah. AND, he’s truly a wonderful husband and father!
More About Teri Jenkins (Dillon)
I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba. I was 15 when Mom started a market garden, and as soon as we went to the farmer’s market, I was hooked. I prudently moved to Calgary to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature/Sociology, and while going to school I worked full-time in the produce department at Safeway to learn the corporate & retail side of the business. When I finished University I moved on to further my skills working at Blush Lane Organic Produce in the Calgary Farmer’s Market. When Jon and I started dating a year and a half later, we both realized that our passion for producing and selling organic vegetables could become a reality through this convenient romantic/business partnership.
After living in Nova Scotia for three years and getting hitched, Jon and I moved to Manitoba to join Brown Sugar Produce in May of 2015. Since then we’ve purchased a farm property near Rivers and also added our daughter Myrah Janice to the farm team (May 2017), as well as lots of cats and some hens. Now that I’m a Mom I feel like my role on the farm has shifted a bit, but also all those years of farming without a baby were practice for the hardest role of farming with a baby! Speed and efficiency in each tasks has never been so valuable as when you have a muddy toddler screaming at you.
I love all animals, especially cats, especially Samson :). I enjoy drinking coffee and cooking gourmet meals with amazing local ingredients, and going to Farmers’ Markets. My favourite part of what I do is seeing all our customers each week in the summer at the markets and Veggie Lovers’ Club pickups: it feels like a real community that we have built here!
If you are interested in participating in a tour of our farm this year, please add your name to this list and we will be in touch when we are scheduling tours. In the past we have had lots of interest but then little attendance and so this year we are trying a different way to try and make the time(s) work for everyone who wants to visit! The tours will be at Jon and Teri’s Farm near Rivers this year.
That’s all for now, folks! The photo above is from July 2015, so the garden doesn’t look like this quite yet but it will very soon!
Feel free to be in touch with us if you have vacation dates to book off, or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or even a rant or two to share. This is a two-way conversation and I always love to hear from you!
Teri & Jon, Stephanie, and Janelle