Sow and Tell #12 – Mountainoak

“Farming is not only an occupation, it’s a way of living.” – Adam Van Bergeijk

Happy New Year, folks! We’re back and ready to rumble, and we’re starting our year off right with our next installment of the Sow and Tell series.

This time, we’re featuring Rick Mercer’s favourite dairy farmer and cheesemaker extraordinaire – Mountainoak!

Just to recap how Sow and Tell works: for all deliveries during the week of January 24th to the 27th, these delicious cheeses are on sale: Farmstead Mild 400g wedges, Farmstead Gold (both the 400g wedges and quarter wheels), and the Farmstead Smoked 400g wedges! You can find them by clicking the “Sale” icon at the top banner of our ordering website.

Rick Mercer & Adam Van Bergeijk

Mountainoak is located in New Hamburg, ON and is owned by Adam & Hannie Van Bergeijk, and their son Arjo and Arjo’s wife Baukje help to run the farm.  Cool tidbit: the name ‘Mountainoak’ is for the English translation of their Dutch family name – “Van Bergeijk” means “from the mountain oak.”

Originally, Adam and Hannie were dairy farmers from the Netherlands. They became interested in cheese making, and attended an artisanal cheese making school with over 300 years of history in Gouda itself, in the early 80’s. The cheeses they made in Holland grew in popularity, but eventually, they wanted to expand their dairy farm. Thus, they decided to emigrate to Canada, where they purchased their first farm in Wilmot Township in September, 1996. In the beginning, they actually had no plans to continue making cheese, instead choosing to focus on raising their herd.

As Adam and Hannie’s sons grew older and began to take over the farming and dairy herd duties, Adam and Hannie moved back towards making artisanal Dutch goudas. At first this was just for personal consumption, but as the popularity of their cheese grew, they decided to officially go into the cheese making biz!

As Adam explains himself, “everything you do with your cows is gonna be paid back in your milk,” and this is a philosophy they put into practice at Mountainoak. On 325 hectares of land, they grow feed, care for and milk their own herd of over 400 dairy cows, and use the 11,000 litres of high quality milk produced yearly to turn into their delicious artisanal cheeses. By being so involved with each step of the process, they can ensure that their milk has as much flavour as possible and that this is reflected in the caliber of the carefully crafted cheese.

They also care about ensuring the environmental sustainability of their farm and operation for future generations. Right now, their fresh water source for cheese production comes from a well, which requires softening and reverse osmosis to make it suitable for cheese making.  They had an assessment done by the Bloom centre for sustainability in conjunction with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario to see where they could conserve water use and be as efficient as possible. By doing so, the managed to reduce their water use by 25-30%! Once they completed their assessment, their next step is to evaluate other systems to increase water collection, such as recycling rainwater. All of this is done with the aim of reducing the carbon footprint of dairy farming and cheese making, which we’re totally on board with here at 100km!

The cheese varieties being featured this week are delectable and award winning! First we have the Farmstead Gold, a “full flavoured farmstead gouda that exudes hints of butterscotch and caramel,” aged for 18 months. The list of awards this cheese has won is extensive, some recent notables include the Reserve Grand Champion at the 2016 Royal Winter Fair, as well as 1st place in the British Empire Cheese Competition in 2015!

Next, we have the Farmstead Mild, which is aged 2-3 months and is “exceptionally smooth and creamy.” This cheese is A+ for melting, and won 1st place in the Class 4 Semi-Firm Cheese at the British Empire Cheese competition in 2016.

We are also featuring their Farmstead Smoked – which takes the creamy, Farmstead Mild and uses an apple wood smoke to give it a beautiful smoky flavour! This cheese is also fantastic and award winning – they’ve won first place twice at the British Empire Cheese competition in both 2014 and 2015.

Now is your chance to get your hands on some of these amazing varieties of Dutch made gouda! The Sow and Tell sale applies to all deliveries from January 24th to January 27th, 2017. Many thanks to Sandy, Adam and the rest of the team at Mountainoak for participating in this Sow and Tell!

looking northeast

Sow and Tell #11

Vegetable confetti FTW! It’s time for our next Sow and Tell. Heads up – this will be the last one of 2016. As we head into what is forecast to be a very cold & snowy winter, we wanted to pick a producer who is just right for the transition from field greens to greenhouse greens. We’re excited to announce our goldilocks pick: Greenbelt Microgreens!

Super quick reminder of how it all works: For all deliveries spanning from Tuesday, November 29th to Friday, December 2nd, all 250g and 454g/1lb bags will be on sale! This is an incredible deal – Greenbelt has a vast range of products so this is a fantastic opportunity to try out their flavourful micros! You can find them by clicking the red sale tag on our site, or by searching Greenbelt in the search bar.

In 1998, Ian Adamson began experimenting with growing microgreens. Back in the day, microgreens were called ‘vegetable confetti’ by some, which, to be honest, I kind of still wish they were. By 2004, he began selling some of his vegetable confetti microgreens. Ian credits chef Brad Long with being an enormously helpful influence by providing excellent advice and support. Eventually, Ian opened Greenbelt Microgreens in 2010. Their state of the art glass greenhouse is located near Stoufville, ON.

Their operation is quite impressive! They employ a team of dedicated full-time, year-round staff who work hard to grow, cut and prepare organic, GAP certified microgreens. They also pride themselves on their modern, glass greenhouse for it’s energy efficiency. They use automated ceiling curtains to keep warm air from escaping, which allows them to save energy for heating by 35%. They also use these curtains to prevent the greenhouse from overheating on very warm, sunny days, or open it completely to let hot air escape.

They have a dedicated computer that is constantly monitoring temperatures and providing crucial feedback to keep growing conditions optimal, as well as limit their energy consumption as much as possible.

They hand water their microgreens (which reduces waste), and since the microgreens are grown in organic soil, this prevents runoff – a bonus for ensuring that nutrient laden water doesn’t contaminate any nearby waterways! Greenbelt conserves rainwater from their roof in an underground cistern. They wash all their micros with naturally pure water from their well, followed by a quick sanitize and further rinse to ensure that you’re receiving the freshest, most flavourful micro greens possible!

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for: the microgreen vs. sprout debate!

Microgreens are not the same thing as sprouts! Okay, you’re chefs, so I’m guessing you already knew this, but we can all use a little refresh now and again. Microgreens are very thinly seeded in soil, are only watered when necessary and gently, naturally germinate upwards towards the sunlight (whose natural UV rays sterilize any pathogens). After a few weeks, the stems, true leaves and cotyledon leaves are harvested (leaving the roots & original seed behind). This is why microgreens are beautiful, delicate, and bursting with incredible flavour.

You may have also heard that microgreens are very nutrient dense, and a 2012 study confirmed this. Thanks, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry! They studied 25 different types of microgreens and found that they are anywhere from 10 – 40 times more nutrient dense than a mature plant or raw seed. Huzzah!

Greenbelt Microgreens have such a great range of microgreens that are (as you may have surmised by now) meticulously and carefully grown for optimal flavour. They are then cut, washed and packaged for convenience and delivered to your door by us the very next day! So do try their spring pea, their sunflower, their red or green daikon radish, or their fabulous mixes such as spicy mix, crunchy mix, and more!

This sale on 250g and 454g/1lb products runs for all deliveries from Tuesday, November 29th – Friday, December 2nd!

Thank you to Michael Curry and Ian Ritchie for their great information and excellent pictures!

Sow and Tell #10…Downey Potato Farms

What’s YOUR favourite way to cook potatoes?

Because let’s be real – there are seemingly endless ways to prepare and enjoy potatoes and I bet the majority of you reading this right now have potatoes on your menus!

They’re so ubiquitous that I think we’re all guilty of occasionally forgetting how versatile and satisfying potatoes can be, but when we crave potatoes we NEED them. Just think about any time you’ve perhaps been a little drunk wandering home from a bar and the lengths you may have gone to, to secure yourself SOME KIND OF DELICIOUSNESS MADE WITH POTATOES.

Or is that just me?

In any case, potatoes are awesome and I think we can all agree on that. That’s why this Sow and Tell features our newest potato farm – Downey Potato Farms. We went on a wee field trip to visit them this week and boy oh boy do they grow and store a lot of potatoes. They can store up to 25 MILLION POUNDS OF POTATOES, TO BE EXACT. Yes, you read that right: 25 million pounds of potatoes.

Sometimes seeing is believing, though, so here’s some visual evidence:

Before I share with you a bit more about their fascinating history and a look at current operations, lets quickly recap how the Sow and Tell works. For all deliveries from October 25th to October 28th, all of their potato varieties currently available are on sale! You can find these in the “Sale” category on the main webpage. This includes their Chef’s Russets – an ultimate baking or frying potato with a light buttery flavour. Or try their Bistro Mini’s: an excellent mini spud perfect for roasting, grilling, or adding to salads. All of their potatoes are GMO free and their facility is GAP certified, and they also have a line of certified organic potatoes!

Downey’s Potato Farm is primarily located in Shelburne, Ontario. This region is known for having incredibly fertile soil known as Honeywood Silt Loam, and is a longstanding farming community – Downey’s has been in operation since 1924.

It was also the region that was big in the news a few years ago when the Highland Companies bought up a large parcel of the farmland, and then, proposed plans to build a massive quarry for limestone aggregate. Many farmers and community members were deeply concerned about the environmental consequences of this plan, and worked together to protest the proposal and preserve the soil. EXACTLY five years ago this this past week, the protest unified the food community in Foodstock, an event that drew tens of thousands of people to raise awareness about the protest and fight the quarry application. A year following Foodstock, the quarry application was withdrawn, and as of July 2013, the quarry land was sold to new ownership with a focus on preserving the area as farmland.

So, a lot has changed these past few years! Three years ago Trevor Downey, whose family has operated Downey farms for four generations, came on board as the president of Downey Potato Farms following a trip to Peru. There, Trevor spent time with growers and researched some of the tastiest heirloom potato varieties to bring back and grow in Shelburne. These varieties are still a few weeks out from harvest but include Heirloom Masquerades, Heirloom Strawberry Blondes and Heirloom Sweet Cerises.

As we toured the facilities, Trevor explained that he and Josh – who came on a year ago to do sales & marketing – are passionate about growing potatoes that are both beautiful and nicely sized, but also tasty! Trevor and Josh met with some chefs at a chip event at the Drake last year and were blown away by the enthusiasm of chefs about their potatoes. They are really looking forward to having more restaurants in Toronto and the GTA carry their varieties, and love that we are now their primary distributor to restaurants! Most of their potato varieties are available locally year-round, and their operation employs a permanent staff of twenty-five.

Unfortunately, we didn’t visit at a time where there was a harvest ongoing, but we did get to tour their facilities. Trevor showed us the storage rooms – each of which can house 5 million pounds of potatoes. We also got to watch the washing, grading, sorting, and packing process – which is a sight to behold (does anyone remember the carrot peeler machine from Hillside? Watching a massive machine shake and grade potatoes is similarly mesmerizing!).

It was a great visit and we’re really excited to feature them for this Sow and Tell! So remember – all of their potatoes are on sale for all deliveries from October 24th to October 28th!  Our thanks to both Josh and Trevor for being such friendly hosts and participating in this promotion!

Wheat, Beets and Pretty Greens

Do you remember class field trips up to farms when you were in elementary school?

I do. I remember piling into a big yellow school bus, hitting the road for a long drive, and finally ending up at a farm! Now, I spent a lot of time on farms as a kid, but this was special, and not just because I didn’t have to go to school for the day!

I vividly recall being in awe of all the animals, the smells and sounds and sights of fields. I remember feeding goats, looking at chickens and pigs, and even learning how to milk a cow. We then churned that milk into butter – that was a mystifying and fascinating process. To be fair, I may be conflating a farm field trip with Black Creek Pioneer Village with the butter churning… but no matter! It was really cool.

100km Foods farm tours are a little bit like that, but better, because sometimes there’s also beer.

On our most recent farm tour, “Wheat,  Beets and Pretty Greens,” we hit the road in a yellow school bus and went up to the New Farm in Creemore, then k2 Milling in Beeton, and finally Hillside Gardens down in the Holland Marsh. Our aim with these tours is to genuinely provide the opportunity for chefs and farmers to connect to each other and put faces to names. Other opportunities include our annual Meet and Greet, but the farm tours are a hands on chance to actually see where the food we deliver to you is grown and packaged, and it is well worth attending!

The New Farm

If you’ve never been to the New Farm, you HAVE to go. It’s a magical place. Brent and Gil are incredibly warm, welcoming and knowledgeable. Their New Farm Kitchen is also now officially up and running, which is an amazing event and educational space dedicated to connecting kitchen teams, school kids, and members of the community to farming and local food. Many of these events are also fundraising efforts – this year alone the New Farm managed to raise over 150,000 for the Stop Community Food Centre in Davenport!

After checking out the New Farm Kitchen, Brent took us out to the wash shed, which he refers to as the “nerve centre” of their entire farm. There, Brent gave us a quick history on their farm and also an overview of the model of industrial agriculture that dominates the food system of Southern Ontario, which is in essence “go big, or go home.” Brent and Gil wanted to do things differently and their model of “Small is beautiful” is something they have proven actually works by maintaining a highly successful farm by using just 20 acres, but you’ll have to go up there yourself to learn the ins and outs of how and why!

Next, Brent took us out to their fields of greens and educated us about the particulars of their organic farming practices. He emphasized the importance of healthy soil and understanding that it’s a living medium – that is the key. A lot of their farming efforts are focused on regenerating the soil by growing cover crops and rotating fields each season so that essential nutrients and minerals aren’t depleted year after year.

Following that, Brent went over how fields are prepared, sown and harvested. Make no mistake – organic farming is a lot of work and manual labour, and it was eye opening to glimpse even a little bit of the effort and dedication it requires.

Cool fact: Brent said one of the ways they measure the health of their farm is by seeing how many Bobolink nests there are. Bobolinks are a threatened species of bird and when they began their farm only a scant amounts of nests existed. A decade later, their farm alone is now home to over 100 bobolink nests!

As both Brent and Gil explained over the course the tour, their relationship with us as their primary distributor in the GTA allows them to harvest to order. Considering the cost of inputs and labour to run their farm, harvesting to order allows them to cut down on wasted product and save money. Within 24 hours of you as a chef placing your order, they’re cutting the greens, washing them, packing them, our driver picks them up, our team packs the order and the next day our truck shows up at your door with the product! Gil also pointed out that having 100km Foods as their distributor they can focus on doing what they do best: growing incredible greens for you to showcase in your establishment.

K2 Milling

We loaded back up in the bus and zoomed down country roads, eating a delicious lunch provided by iQ Foods, and made our way to k2 Milling.

The mill is such a kickass cool space, so I won’t describe it to you and instead show you this wicked photo:

k2Milling

Inside the ‘general store’ we were greeted by Mark Hayhoe, the owner and operator of k2 Milling, an artisanal mill. There, Mark began the tour by explaining what makes them such a unique operation: the amazing diversity of grains they mill. They do grits, light flours, coarse flours, and more. They mill dried fruits, vegetables, cereals, even quinoa! As Mark pointed out, he never understood why traditional, industrial mills go to such lengths to remove the nutrition from the grains. At k2, his goal is to mill artisanal, high quality product that retains the unique properties of each grain AND the nutrition.

K2MillingInside

Of course, one of Mark’s biggest challenges over the years has been getting consistent flour with a good grind. Like any veteran, it’s taken years of trial and error and he and his head miller are constantly working to evolve and refine the process. Mark himself has an amazing family history – they’ve been milling now for over 125 years! Initially they began as a spice milling operation down at King and Jarvis, and eventually moved out to the country side where in 1935 Marks grandfather decided to make a go of it with flour milling, and that particular mill operated until 2007.

Now Mark has downsized his operation and simplified the milling process, which he affirms is what allows him to create such high quality, small batch products. At the old family mill, they could mill 15 tonnes of grain an hour – now, they can mill 1.5 tonnes of grain per hour. Mark took us through to the actual mill and explained in much more detail about how everything works – again, it’s one thing to read about it and entirely another to see the machinery and listen to him talk, so suffice it to say: it’s well worth seeing for yourself.

k2millinginmill

Hillside Gardens

After hanging out at k2, we loaded back up on the bus and made our way to the final stop of the tour: Hillside Garden Farms.

There, we were greeted by Ron Gleason, who is the owner and operator. Ron was one of the first farmers we worked with, and one of the first people to really see and understand the vision of what Paul and Grace wanted to do for farms and local food.

Ron introduced us to his son-in-law Steven, who facilitated the tour for us from there. Steven gave us the rundown of their history and their primary crops, which we refer to as “The Staples.” They began growing just carrots and onions, but now also grow beets, celery, coloured carrots. They have expanded from primarily conventional growing to include organic crops in recent years, and most of their local produce is available year-round.

There were two parts to this leg of the tour: the packaging and processing facilities as well as the fields.

HAIRNETS

We made our way inside and, equipped with fashionable hairnets, got a closer look at the processing line. What an experience! They employ lots of staff who are set up at various stations: sorting, washing, weighing, peeling, cutting, packing, discarding… it was absolutely mesmerizing! My particular favourite was the carrot peeling machine – that was really neat. I could’ve stared at it for hours. We posted a video of that machine our Instagram so check it out there!

Steven also told us about a great new program they’re involved in: Naturally Imperfect. They’ve teamed up with grocery stores and retailers to change the way consumers think about food. Before, a carrot with even a slight imperfection would be considered “waste” by a store and unusable, even though it tasted just as great as the others. Now, this “Naturally Imperfect” produce is being featured in stores as an affordable option that also cuts down drastically on waste. We’re completely on board with that!

Next, we ventured out to their celery field. They have over 750 acres of farmland, so this field was just a fraction of where they grow! Steven went into great detail about how things are planted and harvested, and echoed Brent from the New Farm’s philosophy that nurturing the soil is what produces such high quality food!

Hillsidefield

All in all, it was a fantastic day and a great learning experience, even for me, and I work here! We will be facilitating more tours in future, including these farms and different ones, so look out for the notice announcing when the next one will be!

Special thanks to Alicia for organizing the tour as well as Brent, Gil, Mark, Ron and Steven for being such gracious and informative hosts.

Sow and Tell Top Tomato

Sow and Tell #9

What better way to celebrate the first day of autumn than the next installment in our Sow and Tell series?!

Granted, it doesn’t exactly FEEL like fall at the moment (at least from where this blog post is typed in Toronto, where it’s feels like a balmy 34 degrees right now).

REGARDLESS! We are pleased to announce the featured producer for this Sow and Tell is…Top Tomato Farms!

For all deliveries from Tuesday, September 27th through till Friday, September 30th all available varieties of broccoli, cabbage AND cauliflower are on sale!! This includes these super cool looking (but also sweet and creamy!) orange cauliflower.

Top Tomato is family owned and operated with over 55 years of experience. It all started back in 1960, when Vito De Filippis began farming cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli on 40 acres in Uxbridge, Ontario. At that point, most of the produce was sold to smaller supermarkets and down at the food terminal. Vito’s son Dominic is now the owner and operator of Top Tomato, along with his two sons Antony and Vito.

Nowadays, using patience and innovation, their farm has expanded to a much larger scale with a wider range of products including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, beans, peas, and even artichokes! Growing artichokes in Ontario was a process of trial-and-error throughout the better part of a decade until they learned the best way to grow them in the Canadian climate and started to see amazing yields.

10 years ago, Top Tomato implemented a food traceability program as well as participate in yearly audits. Through these tools, they can trace every single seed they planted and use the continuous feedback through their program to make adjustments and produce even better tasting products! More recently, they’ve worked to reduce their waste by investing in reusable, washable shipping containers.

They also pride themselves on being a great local employer, and are constantly striving to provide growth and opportunities for their staff – some of whom have worked for them for over 20 years! They also run the 19th Avenue Farmers Market in Markham, Ontario (if you’re ever out that way, drop by and say hi!).

Once again: all deliveries from Tuesday, September 27th through till Friday, September 30th all available varieties of broccoli, cabbage AND cauliflower are on sale!!

Thank you to Ligia and Nancy for providing the information and pictures for this post!

 

 

 

Betcha Didn’t Know…

Adam Foley

Why should you know who Adam Foley is?  Because he’s one of the many unsung heroes in our network who chooses, day in and day out, to work with local food because it’s the right thing to do. He also uses his catering opportunities to introduce both internal and external patrons to local farms, local ingredients and fresh, sustainable food.

As the Executive Chef at Osgoode Hall at the Law Society of Upper Canada, Adam’s daily menu features an impressive array of expertly crafted dishes using some of the best ingredients Ontario has to offer and inspired by the ethnically-diverse cuisine of Toronto.  We’ve known Adam for nearly 10 years now, and he’s always been a loyal customer who’s proud to tell his customers about us and the local food he prepares and serves.

They also work to reduce food waste in their kitchen and addressing poverty in the city by working with Lawyers Feed the Hungry Program. You can learn more at www.lawyersfeedthehungry.ca.

We’re proud to call Adam a friend and, if you don’t know a lawyer or judge, we suggest you try to get to know one (without getting into legal trouble, of course) so you can enjoy the fine food he’s cooking up. Or just walk right in…Osgoode Hall Restaurant is open to the public!

 

Basil Small

Sow and Tell #8 – ANC Farm!

Welcome back to to our eighth feature in the Sow and Tell series! As you may recall, we didn’t run one of these during July because of our kickass Summerlicious Promotion, but we’re back in business for August!

This month’s featured farmer is: ANC Farm Produce!

For all deliveries from August 23rd-26th leeks, kale, basil and beets (white, red and cioggia) from ANC Farm will be on sale! You can access these items by clicking through to the red ‘Sale’ category on the ordering website, by searching for ANC, or by clicking through to the various vegetable categories.

 

ANC Farm is owned and operated by Rex and Carol, with help from their three children. Their farm is located in Bradford (the Holland Marsh area). Rex and Carol are originally from Guyana, which is where Rex first became involved with farming and agriculture and developed a love for this work.

They immigrated to Canada in the late 1990’s, and established their first farm by renting a 5 acre plot. In the early days, Carol and Rex grew different varieties of lettuce (green leaf, red leaf) as well as radish. Over time, they expanded their farm to 25 acres and now grow a number of other crops including beets, leeks, carrots, kale, and herbs. In addition to distributing through 100km Foods, ANC sell their produce at farmers markets and local supermarkets.

Rex and Carol are conventional growers, but they are determined to grow with as little pesticide use as possible. For instance, they opt to clear weeds by hand rather than use sprays, despite that option being a lot more manual labour!

Currently, their biggest project is to build a family home for themselves on their farm property, which they hope to complete within the next year.

Carol, Rex & children

Carol acknowledges that farming is oftentimes an enormous amount of hard work, but emphasized that Rex feels very passionately about farming and she will continue to do her utmost to support his dream. Carol and Rex are very kind, genuine people and it’s a pleasure for us to work with them!

So, once again, for all deliveries from August 23rd-26th ANC Farm’s leeks, kale, basil and beets are on sale!  

Sow and Tell #7… Sapsucker!

As our brief and fickle spring this year moves toward summer, this Sow and Tell features a producer whose product captures the subtle sweetness of the season: Sapsucker Maple Tree Filtered Water!

Limited time offer on Sapsucker Maple Tree Filtered Water 1Ltr for all deliveries June 6th through to June 10th.

Sapsucker is also looking to sponsor your patio and/or beverage menu this summer season – offer a natural, sustainable, refreshing, and non-alcoholic Forest-to-Table beverage to your customers this summer, or make a feature cocktail.  If you would like more info on how can you can take part – please email our sales rep, Alicia! You can reach her at Alicia@100kmfoods.com

TractorDrip1

I remember well the first time the team at 100km Foods sampled Sapsucker organic maple tree filtered water, about a year ago now. Paul stopped in at the warehouse office with a 1L carton and we all drank a small glass, and we were delighted! All of us exclaimed over the fresh, smooth and delicate taste. It’s water, but it’s not just water – Alicia coined it the “coconut water of Canada,” – and that really rang true. We brought it on as a product right away and have carried it ever since. It is 100% pure maple water – there are absolutely no additives or preservatives in it at all. It’s a mineral rich, antioxidant rich beverage you can feel good about drinking.  The most sustainable packaged water on the market!

Sapsucker can be served as a refreshing and unique drink on its own, but its uses extend far beyond that! It can be used in cocktails, desserts, and other dishes. We all love learning about the creative ways chefs and bartenders / mixologists are able to incorporate this quintessentially Canadian ingredient. One example I heard of was brewing coffee with Sapsucker and then adding whiskey for a delicious drink (though perhaps save that one for the colder months!). It also makes a mean mojito!

The Lower Valley Beverage Company (whose flagship product is Sapsucker) was founded in 2014 by two families (the Chapmans and the McGlaughlins). They were eager to return to a sustainably minded, rural way of life once they welcomed their families, and are now based in Flesherton, Ontario.

In every facet of their operation, they strive to be as sustainable and low impact as they can be. Unlike bottled water, Sapsucker is tapped from trees, not taken from fragile underground aquifers, and maple trees will continue to produce sap and water for up to a century once matured. They work to get the newly tapped water into cartons within 36-48 hours to maintain freshness, and the packaging itself has a low carbon food print and made to be recyclable. It’s also a remarkably shelf stable product – unopened it lasts for 18 months – opened it will last up to two weeks refrigerated.

Once again, this limited time offer of 1 litre Sapsucker maple water will run from June 6th to June 10th! You can find Sapsucker by searching on the main webpage, or by clicking the red “Sale” icon. If you’re looking to bring Sapsucker in for the summer season, please reach out to Alicia! She’s working with Nancy to offer you a great promotion, so email her to find out more.

An enormous thank you to both Charlene and Nancy for providing the information and pictures!

 

 

Eggplant Varieties

Sow and Tell #6… St. David’s Hydroponics!

Did you know that in the summertime, St. David’s Hydroponics runs their operation to have a net zero carbon footprint? We’ll get into the how shortly, but St. David’s is one of our superstar producers whose peppers and eggplants are a mainstay of our peak season offerings, and so we have paired up to feature them for this Sow and Tell!

For deliveries April 26th through to April 29th, all of their peppers and eggplant varieties are on sale (with the exception of #2 products). You can find them a few ways; either by clicking the red “Sale” tag on the website’s main page, searching St. David’s, or by clicking through to pepper and eggplant categories.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try out the amazing eggplant and pepper varieties they currently have on offer, now is a great chance to do so!

Greenhouse

St. David’s began in 1985 and now have over 70 acres of greenhouses. We’ve been working with them since 2010 and can assure you that St. David’s firmly believes in doing things the right way – they don’t cut corners – because they care deeply about all aspects of their operation. They don’t want to just meet minimum ministry environmental guidelines, they want to surpass them.

St. David’s is located in Niagara, Ontario and this has proven to be a great location and climate to grow the products in a way that is innovative and massively reduces their carbon footprint. To start, all the plants are grown in coconut fibre that would otherwise be waste (rather than typical soil), and are bought back by the supplier after one year’s use.

Of course, growing plants creates biomass waste itself (such as vines and leaves), and they’ve come up with a way to use this biomass. They will leave a certain amount on the ground to aid their biological control program and the rest they truck over to a nearby “digester” on a regular basis. Sending waste to a digester generates methane gas that is then used for hydro by local farms and looped back into the grid.

There are so many other ways in which their operation offsets carbon use – the glass roofs are a newer technology that diffuses sunlight to create optimal growing conditions. They work to make their greenhouses a closed system, so they collect rainwater to use for irrigation, they bring in bees to pollinate plants, they even collect CO2 generated in their greenhouses and feed it back to their plants!

One of their most notable (and cool, for those of us who are wowed by biology!) programs is their program for pest and disease control. One person’s job is to scout out all the plants for pests on a weekly basis. When damaging pests show up on plants (think spider mites or aphids), their first step is to introduce a beneficial insect to help control the pest population.  If the damaging pests can’t be controlled by the other insects, they will assess the damage and only do a localized pesticide spray where necessary.

 

 

Above is a lady bug larvae, which are natural predators that love to eat aphids!

Above you can see damage to plants from spider mites, on the left are the Persimalis mites which help control spider mite populations and mitigate plant damage as shown.

All of these processes come together to offset carbon use enough so that, during summertime production, their operation has a neutral carbon footprint. They also pack orders by hand to ensure consistency. And yes, it’s a lot of work to do things this way, but everyone at St. David’s is committed to their operation and guess what? It produces delicious, gorgeous peppers and eggplants that we deliver right to you!

St. David's Medley

So, to remind you: all peppers and eggplants currently available (except the #2s) are on sale for all deliveries from April 26th – April 29th! Add them to your order either by clicking the red “Sale” tag on the website’s main page, searching St. David’s, or by clicking through to pepper and eggplant categories.

Our thanks goes out to St. Davids, but particularly Stacia for providing us with all the information and great pictures!

Meet and Greet 2016

Have you wondered what’d it be like to get a group of farmers, invite a bunch of chefs, stick them in a room together with beer and wine, and see what happens? Well, we did, and thus was born our annual Chef/Farmer Meet and Greet.

In a highly industrialized food system characterized by disconnection, we are doing the exact opposite. We want to close the loop between the folks that work so hard to grow local food and the chefs that want to highlight these fresh, high quality ingredients. We want to connect people and create positive, powerful relationships. The annual Meet and Greet is one our favourite opportunities to do so.

This year was our biggest year yet, with thirty of our producers and over one hundred chefs in attendance at the beautiful and historic Carlu! Afterwards, we asked a few attendees for feedback on the event.

Chef Matt Simpson from The Chase had so many wonderful things to say (thanks Matt!):

“I thought the event was great. For me personally, a few specific people stood out. Jason [from Pristine Gourmet] was one, I really enjoyed speaking with him about his oils and his farm. Also, Hugh from Osprey Bluffs Honey. He was so passionate about the life of the bees and the importance of curating the property to enhance the bees which clearly results in a truly great product. He really does care about his craft just like I do with cooking.”

Matt also mentioned Mark from K2 Milling and how happy he was to learn that the grains Mark mills are grown locally, and that meeting Brent from the New Farm was particularly special, having developed a decade long relationship with their products! Matt also was really impressed with Jennifer from Pluck Tea, saying “I was almost taken aback from how much I enjoyed talking to her about tea. I feel like its such an under-utilized ingredient culinarily and she was just a really positive person. I am really looking forward to using her tea for some recipes.”

Overall, Matt emphasized that “It just really was an inspiring day for me to finally put faces to the products we use. That connection is so important to me (…) I am truly glad I got to attend this year and meet all of these truly passionate people who feel the same way about their products as I do with creating something with them.”

We received amazing feedback from some of our producers – Stefan from Bright Cheese floored us when he mentioned that since meeting Executive Chef Christine Flynn of IQ Food Co. at last years’ event, they have seen a 300% increase of sales on their old white cheddar. Stefan has completely revamped his production quotas to meet this increased demand!

As always, Vicki had great feed back for us (thanks Vicki!). She said, “Some chefs I had never met before asked if it was possible to come and visit our farm. They wanted to bring their staff to see where their food comes from… and visit and meet the people who grow some of the food they get (…) I was also asked to come and talk about being a farmer and how we grow food at a special dinner in one restaurant.

All of these conversations would not have happened if not for this day. Every exchange is just another way for people to feel connected to each other and learn from one another to get a better understanding of what we each do.”’

Hugh from Osprey Bluffs Honey told us that he has “enjoyed these social business events and agree that the essence of this local food hub model rests with the Chefs and Producers feeling a connection that makes the food story most authentic… 100km Foods is doing a great job of facilitating those relationships, supporting Producers and advancing the most authentic food story.”

Gil from The New Farm perfectly summed up what this event is really about, saying that “This event is not just simply a meet and greet. Both the chefs and the vendors come to the table ready to develop some new relationships.”

We want to extend an enormous thank you to everyone who was involved with this event, and to everyone who attended. We will see you next year!