Spring Reflections from a Local Farmer

Contributed by Kat Saxton, Farmer at Pilgrims’ Produce

Learn more at www.pilgrimsproduce.com

Somewhere between laying the farm to rest in late fall and launching into a bustling new spring, amongst snow flurries and deep darkness, we farmers get a unique chance to reflect during a quieter season. Lately I’ve been thinking about how fortified and fabulous our local farm scene is. We live in a beautifully abundant area where options for farm fresh foods are plentiful: from seasonal, organic veggies and fruits, to grass-fed meats, milk, cheeses and free-range eggs, from bee-foraged honey and artisan preserves, to freshly roasted coffee and baked bread. Not only are there plenty of food choices at the ready, but the ways in which consumers can access this glorious food is also growing!

During this quieter season we have enjoyed several fun little get-togethers with fellow growers in our area and have been reminded that there is a contingent of strong local farmers who are not only growing/creating/raising incredible food, but coming up with clever new ways to get it into the hands of the customers. This winter we’ve gathered over potluck feasts, breakfast buffets, ski club appies, steamy cups of tea, and driveway discussions. We’ve had a chance to connect over common challenges, be it weather surprises, crop failures, death of beloved animals, drought, or pests. We’ve laughed til our bellies hurt over the crazy ways we keep rushing in with defibrillators to revive a dying business plan! There have even been tears of release as we shared in the hardships we’ve somehow pushed through, with a few scars and stinging reminders of the difficulties.

While growing food has its unpredictable challenges, we farmers agree that another hurdle we face is on the selling end. It is a taxing process to go from carrots or cattle in the field to something prepared and appealing for a customer to purchase.

I have been really encouraged to hear of the many new ways local farmers are making strides to create easier options for folks in the community to access local food. By removing the middleman, we are keeping costs lower and inviting a transparent relationship between farmer and consumer.

Below are a few ways our community can access and support our local farmers and producers:

Farmers Markets- Make sure to check out the weekly farmers markets in Vernon, Lumby, Cherryville, Armstrong, Enderby, and Salmon Arm to see the amazing products from dozens of local producers.

Home DeliveryNature Delivered  will deliver products right to your door in Armstrong, Enderby, Blind Bay, and Salmon Arm.

CSA or Subscription Boxes support farmers ahead of the growing season and immerse customers in a variety of products as they are harvested throughout the season. Pilgrims’ Produce, Curlew Orchard, Green Croft Gardens4 Elements Farm, and Fresh Valley Farms all offer a subscription style box on a weekly or monthly basis.

Farm gate or on-farm stores are loaded with locally-grown and -made products at Curlew Orchard, Green Croft Gardens, Gumboots farm store at Pilgrims’ Produce, Zelaney Farms, Good N’ Plenty Produce, Curly Willow, and Grass Root Dairies.

Online stores offer convenient online shopping. Check out the online stores from Fresh Valley Farms, Rosebank Farms, Wild Flight Farm, Nature Delivered, Green Croft Gardens, Pilgrims’ Produce, Orchard Blossom Honey, Fieldstone Organics, Ringo-En Orchards, and Zelaney Farms.

Spring plant starts are for sale from Pilgrims’ Produce, Quail’s Farm, Nature Delivered, and Zelaney Farms.

U-Pick allows customers to pick their own fresh produce at Pilgrims’ Produce, Greencroft Gardens, Ringo-En Orchards, Peter’s Orchard, Bright Angel Farm, Davison Orchards, and Good “n” Plenty Produce.

Agri-tourism farms host events, cafes, workshops, and offer lodging for those wanting to visit and experience local farm life. Check out Fresh Valley Farms, Curlew Orchard, Green Croft Gardens, Davison Orchards, Cambium Cider Co., Farmer John’s, Farmstrong Cider Company, Grass Root Dairies, and the BX Know Your Farmer Tour (2024 dates pending) for agritourism offerings.

Wholesale supply is offered by many local farms to support bulk ordering for grocery stores, co-ops, restaurants, and institutions.  Shuswap Organics, Wild Flight Farm, Mara Valley Produce, Pilgrims’ Produce, Roots and Greens, Curly Willow, and Field Stone Organics all offer wholesale pricing on their products. Many of these farms load up shared trucks for delivery to reduce shipping costs.

Look up your local farmers this spring for inspiration, amazing food, and community connections! If we missed your business or your favorite local producer in this list, let us know!

Farmers who are interested in contributing seasonal reflections, contact Sammy at hello@landtotablenetwork.com.

This article was originally written by Kat Saxton and edited by Kathryn Hettler for Your Country News. The list at the end of the article has been updated for the Land to Table newsletter.