Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: Celebrate BC Farmers Appreciation Week at the Rossland Market…tomorrow!

Miche Warwick
By Miche Warwick
September 10th, 2014

This week marks the 5th annual Farmers’ Appreciation Week, which is a province wide celebration of BC Farmers, Agriculture and Food! Farmers are our best source for fresh, healthy, local food and this week gives us an opportunity to express our gratitude and recognize the thousands of BC farmers contributing to our health, our communities and our economy.

British Columbians are becoming increasingly passionate about buying local, fresh, in season food and one of the main reasons for this is because BC now has more than 120 farmer’s markets operating across the province. There are nearly 20,000 farms operating in BC and 98% of these are family farms, reported Stats Canada in 2011. BC’s agrifood industry is the most diverse in Canada, with over 200 agricultural products. Aside from tropical fruit, there isn’t much that BC farmers aren’t growing, and with market venues popping up in every nook throughout the province, consumers are having an easier time accessing this healthy, locally grown food.

Here in Rossland, we have 5 local farms who sell their food on a regular basis. Our farmers come from Fruitvale, Creston, Grand Forks and the Slocan Valley and provide everything from vegetables, fruits and herbs to naturally raised, antibiotic and hormone free meat.

“The Rossland Mountain Market has worked hard all year long to ensure this community has access to good, healthy food. It’s not just about bringing in vendors; the market is about building relationships – friendships – with the people who are growing the food we eat” says market manager Miche Warwick. “It’s about getting to know the farmers who care so much about our health. BC Farmers Appreciation Week is a time when we should all offer a big thank you, a supportive hug and a sincere handshake to those who work tirelessly so we can eat good food.”

In the spirit of hard work, good food and loving local let’s all come together and celebrate the Farmers of the Rossland Mountain Market, and here is a look at who they are:

John Abenante and Jeanine Powell, the faces behind Earthy Organics, bought their farm in Fruitvale in 2002. With an extensive educational background (kinesiology, horticulture, permaculture and greenhouse management) and a strong belief in consciously eating healthy, John and Jeanine are a dynamic gardening team who have built a beautiful, productive farm over the last 13 years. Earthy Organics Farm received their Organic Certification in 2005 and began selling at the Rossland Mountain Market in 2008, which they have been season vendors at every year.

To John and Jeanine, farming is more than just growing food, it’s a passion, a lifestyle and it’s about contributing to our local sustainability. Earthy Organics can be found at the market every week with raspberries, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, basil and lots more!

Joanne Gugelyk from Abbeylane Farm in Creston has been farming for 6 years and has been a season vendor at the Rossland Mountain Market for the past 2 summers. Joanne’s farm is certified organic through the Kootenay Local Agricultural Society, and she takes great pride in growing pesticide free produce.

“Organic is important because it is a protection mechanism. When you put chemicals into the soil, they are brought right back out into the food that grows in that soil,” says Joanne.

In keeping with this organic philosophy, she also tries to use as little packaging as possible, especially plastics, and opts for newspaper pots for bedding plants and paper or cellophane bags for produce, which are all compostable. Joanne’s favorite things about gardening are spending so much time outdoors, getting things started in the Spring, and of course, getting her hands dirty! Joanne brings us raspberries, blackberries, black and red currants, garlic, onions, carrots, dried herbs and assorted lip balms and lotion bars. Joanne loves coming to the Rossland Mountain Market and plans to be a face we continue to see in the future!

Wendy and Dale McNamar are the proud owners of Kootenay Natural Meats in Creston. Their business came alive 7 years ago after an abattoir came to Creston and made it possible for them to process their meat. Dale grew up on a farm and has always had a firm belief in raising animals naturally.

Together Wendy and Dale have developed a passion for healthy, antibiotic and hormone free meat. All of their animals are born and raised on their farm and are raised as naturally as possible. Wendy and Dale also have their own breeding stock which allows them to control their animal health and welfare. All of the beef and lamb from their farm is “grass-finished”, which in comparison to “grain-finished”, is a much healthier product. Wendy attends the Rossland Mountain Market on a bi-weekly basis, and always brings grass-finished beef and lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and their own homemade honey! Wendy and Dave are happy to serve Rossland their local, healthy meats and plan to continue in the future.

The hardworking team behind Centre Road Farm in Grand Forks, is Gerry and Debbie Steadman. Gerry and Debbie moved to Grand Forks in 1994 and have been farming there for the past 20 years. Grand Forks is a significant agricultural area and provided the world with seeds after World War Two.  The Steadmans love to grow food and feel very thankful that farmer’s markets exist in our area, as these events are what provided them with the income they required to keep farming. Gerry has been attending the Rossland Mountain Market since 2010 and feels that they receive a lot of support every week, which keeps them coming back. Gerry and Debbie operate a 33,000 square foot greenhouse, as well as an outdoor garden, and come to the market bearing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, herbs, strawberries and raspberries.

Mad Dog Farm is located in a wee community called Tarrys, just East of Castlegar. Here you can find Nette Lack working for hours outside on her beautiful, organic 28 acre farm. Farming since 2000, Nette and her husband started with animal husbandry but soon turned to vegetables due to strict regulations involved with managing animals.

Mad Dog Farm is Certified Kootenay Mountain Grown, which is a farmer to farmer certification that follows all organic rules and is recognized as organic here in the Kootenays. Nette brings us kale, lettuce, tomatoes, fruit, cucumbers, zucchini and honey. A very important part of the farm is the 14 bee hives containing approximately 300,000 bees. Nette started keeping bees because they are essential for good pollination. Mad Dog Farm has a passion for providing first rate, good quality food at an affordable price, and Nette plans to be a farmer that we see regularly here in Rossland.

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