‘It tastes like home’
Since we transitioned from being a planet of nomadic tribes living off the land to a people who adopted agriculture ten thousand years ago, our relationship with the harvest and with food has naturally evolved over the millennia.
While it can be quite easy to think of food as a mere transaction in our ever-increasing, busy world, I find that, despite the noise, there is a counter-current rising, yearning for greater connection to the earth and to food. We see this evidenced by the rise of memberships to community supported agriculture programs. CSAs involve the community by engaging their financial support to purchase your own share of the harvest at the beginning of the growing season. This allows farmers to maintain a steady income throughout the season instead of the farm having to wait until the end of the growing season to receive any remuneration for their efforts. You can find a CSA close to you by a simple online search or visiting your local farmers’ market to speak to the growers in person.
Josh Oulton and Patricia Bishop, co-owners of Tap Root Farms in Port Williams, N.S., feel connected to the Atlantic Canadian harvest at their shared agricultural farm. Patricia describes it as, “So fresh. It tastes like home. It values our land and our farmers in our communities. It is our whole life. Every day we wake up and set about to grow good food, to provide food year-round. For us, how we engage with food (what we eat) is our action, it represents how we engage and value nature, how we care for our earth.”
Tap Root Farms
- Website: http://www.taprootfarms.ca/
- Facebook: https//www.facebook.com/TaprootfarmsCSA/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joshtaproot/
- Phone: (902) 542-3277
This progressive farm utilizes the CSA program for a greater sense of wellness for all involved in the food chain and they also host various events and workshops on topics as varied as paper making with flax to open farm days. It is these connections to community that become so important if you are looking to be connected to what you eat and the people who grow the goods.
Newfoundland And Labrador
In St. John’s, N.S., you’ll find a vibrant farmers’ market co-operative on Freshwater Road. This is a vibrant space where community events are hosted in addition to the vendor’s market.
Pamela Anstey believe these food hubs are essential.
“Farmers’ markets connect community. Farmers get to share their passion for their craft, and customers get to learn who and where their food comes from.”
Additionally, Anstey says, ”Farmers’ markets are all about discovery; stumbling upon something you’ve never seen before, learning new ways to prepare familiar things, and exploring both culturally diverse and traditional foods made with the freshest of ingredients.”
St. John’s Farmers’ Market Co-operative
Prince Edward Island
Here in Prince Edward Island, Barnyard Organics, a family farm headed by Sally and Mark Bernard, demonstrates how modern approaches to farming can lead to better soil health and crop yields, but it also creates the capacity for conversation. Sally, in addition to her physical work on the farm, maintains a blog and a vibrantly informational Instagram account where she shares her narrative as a mom and an organic farmer.
Barnyard Organics Ltd/East Coast Organic Feed Mill
- Phone: (902) 887-3188
- Website: https://www.barnyardorganics.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barnyardorganics/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/barnyardorganics/
Mark deals primarily with the grain and feed production component and Sally manages the livestock; chickens primarily. She recently had me to the farm to learn more about the day-to-day chores involved in organic egg production. It was amazing to see how the Bernard children could handle the chores with great deftness. I helped with pen rotation and the collecting, washing and processing of the eggs to be ready for sale. I felt very inspired and quite at peace with myself after my visit to the farm. Being connected to the earth in tangible ways has many positive benefits. While we were doing the chores, Sally told me about the recipes she uses for any of the eggs that don’t pass her market standards. She said devilled eggs are an easy go to, but to get her kids to eat them, she turns them into sailboats with the addition of a cucumber sail.
In another vein, as more environmental studies are being funded by the Canadian government to research and test the viability of our soil, I was curious what Sally’s perspective on the subject is: “For so long we’ve thought of it as ‘dirt’, as the medium in which we grow our food. But it’s so much more than that and in fact, in regenerative agricultural circles soil is recognized as the real crop, the real thing we’re caring for and our crops are simply a manifestation and indication of our soil care. If everyone could think of the soil as a living thing, an independent being, needing our love and attention, a being that eats and drinks and either thrives or dies depending on how we treat it, just like any plant or animal, we would do so much better at feeding and caring for ourselves.”
If you’re interested in trying your hand at growing your own food, Patricia suggests, “trying to find a local community garden where there are people who can support and encourage you. Start small and you will experience small success and then start growing more and more. If you don't have any garden space, using planters for vegetables works. I suggest you start with something fast growing like greens.” There is still time left this summer for you to grow some lettuces and dark greens. Grab a pack of seeds and give it a grow.
Sally’s Sailboat Devilled Eggs (adapted recipe)
- 6 eggs, hardboiled, peeled, halved and yolks put into a bowl
- To the yolks add the following:
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
- 1 Tbsp chopped green onion
- 1 tsp paprika to be sprinkled over the top of the eggs
To hard cook the eggs: Place eggs in a small saucepan/pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil. Turn off the heat. Set timer for 8 minutes. Once the timer sounds, drain and cool under cold running water. Peel the eggs and halve lengthways. Scoop the yolk into a small bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and the remaining accoutrements. Divide the egg yolk mixture evenly among the egg halves. Sprinkle each yolk with a small amount of paprika and then place a half-moon slice of cucumber into the yolk to mimic the sail on a boat. You can use other items as sails such as cheese, bell pepper, summer sausage, or even Belgian endive.
MORE FROM CHEF ILONA:
- The difference between barbecue … and barbecue
- Atlantic Canada offers an abundance of creative meals in the summer
- Getting grilled
- A stacked Italian salad with fennel, chives, oranges, lemon, pancetta
- Traditional street food
- Have your cake and eat it, too
Chef Ilona Daniel's food column, Food Seductress, runs on the first Friday of each month. She welcomes comments from readers by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter: Twitter.com/chef_ilona.