Friday, July 8, 2011

Chaster Creek Farm

My brother Struan in his market garden July 4th, 2011.
Photo credits: Sara Brown

The Global and Mail recently had an article: Local FoodMovement Goes National.   This significant new development is piggybacking on the growth in popularity in eating locally and in season. How often is it that something not only feels right, but tastes right?

July 4th - and looking so robust.

 My brother Struan and his wife Sara have been an active part of the local food movement since they moved up to the Coast in the mid 70s. Their first major food garden was at their home on North Road. The soil there was so rock hard that you could damned near hear it laughing at them when they ran a rototiller over the surface of their first planned garden plot. In the end, it was a jack hammer that did the trick. That and years of manure from their chickens, cows, horses, goats and whatever other animals they also raised on their land.

About three years ago, they sold the old place and bought sixteen flat acres on Payne Road. The soil here is perfect, rich and deep. In no time at all, Struan and Sara were up to their old tricks – providing produce for their family, extended family, friends, and anyone else that happened within hailing distance. They canned, froze, pickled and dried anything that could be saved this way. Clearly there was enough produce coming out of their new farm for them to set up a booth to sell the extra.  This was so successful, that they expanded and are now known as Chaster Creek Farm 

Genuflecting amongst all the goodness.

Brandon, who now works with Struan and Sara and also lives on the farm, grows lettuce which you can buy at the Gibson’s Marketplace IGA. The two local IGAs have been great this way. They also sell certified organic greens from Tracy & Martin Kiewitz of Henry Reed Produce. It is wonderful food. I have been buying Henry Reed produce since I moved up to the Coast a little over a decade ago, and plan to continue buying from both them and Chaster Creek – after all, I am absolute rubbish when it comes to being a gardener. Dunno why. Temperament, maybe.  

Garlic Scapes - picked July 5th, 2011

A couple of days ago, Struan cut a bag full of garlic scapes for me. Now here is a mystery. We have this whole eat local approach soaring in popularity amongst restaurants these days. Items such as spotted prawns are the new hot thing to order in restaurants in the spring, and rightly so. So where are the garlic scapes on Lower Mainland restaurant menus? Where are the recipes in the newspapers? I haven't seen them.

Struan's approach is to cut the tough part of the tops off them and sauté them for use in  dishes such as Chinese vegetables. Done this way, they have a mild garlic flavour with a texture not unlike like green beans. I make a pesto with them, with walnuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. It works well in a pasta sauce, with sometimes a little cream, or else it can also be mixed into yoghurt or sour cream to make a dip, or even simply spread on toast and topped with an egg. How can you go wrong?

To go with our pasta tonight, we will also enjoy a bag of Chaster Creek Antioxidant Health Mix Greens. I bought them at the IGA because it was convenient. I like this mix because it has lots of red lettuce in it. red lettuce not only tastes good, but it also has 100% more antioxidant compounds than other lettuce varieties. You can see a graph about the antioxidant levels of lettuce – I am not making this up. Pas de surprise, the old standby - iceberg lettuce - is at the bottom of the antioxidant heap. 

Mmm, Mmm - life is good. Then after supper, it is off to the Gibsons Legion for music – played by Struan, Bruce and Martin. It seems to me that it is not only food, but also music that can and should be “eaten” locally. 

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