Archive | October 2016

A Space For Everyone.

I just got off the phone with a farmer and it’s the same story I hear again and again. He’s considering quitting. 

I asked him questions to try and understand exactly what he needs to continue. He must continue. Because the options are scary and unsustainable. 

We went over multiple reasons why he would Need to quit. Essentially, he doesn’t have enough people signed up. Maybe it is because some people aren’t able to commit to signing up for the season. For others, it’s too much food at one time or maybe they need more choice?  Also, there’s a lot more options for  people to purchase local food now than there was 9 years ago when he started his certified organic CSA. I also think many people don’t know about him, so marketing reach is an issue. He runs an amazing program with incredible value for the $80 a month. But I’m not here writing this to promote his specific CSA (yet.). I am here to promote the idea. To let you know that who we buy from matters. 

Anyways, I think it’s time to be honest about the state of things. About the state of the small local food producers in Saskatchewan…

It’s not always more convenient or cheaper but I can tell you that it makes the world a better place when you purchase directly from a small producer and sometimes it is more convenient and cheaper. I also think that as we work together, we will figure out how to best do this. I’ve thought about quitting, maybe I do once a week. I’ve considered how freeing it would be not to have to worry about keeping thousands of dollars of food safe from the improper temperature. Or having to come up with $20,000 to pay the producers for the week. Or to release me from the pressure to sell all of The Pearl’s lamb so his family can live and have a home (love ya, Brian).

But this is my heart. It keeps me going. It wakes me up guiding me to start our day with beautiful food laid out and fair trade coffee as I answer emails and check fb for messages about these farm foods.  The Wandering Market makes me a better mother and person  to be honoured to serve people and farmers in such an intimate way. It’s so Important.  All of that reigns above any superficial struggles i need to solve. And think, once I solve this, I can show others how to do the same. 

Honestly, there is not a single farmer/food producer that I’ve spoken to that isn’t seriously struggling. Struggling to deal with all the physical obstacles as well as make a living at it. They are all holding on to their shirts for dear life. I really feel it doesn’t have to be this way. That together we can solve this. Every year more people quit small scale farming and local food producing. We did and we didn’t even really get started. A lot of people this year got out of raising Pigs because it just isn’t profitable unless you do it feed lot style. Free-ranged animals require a lot more food as they are out running around. They also need a lot of space and fencing which is expensive and labour intensive. They don’t mind that but we need to compensate them. I am so Thankful to everyone that supports us or is signed up for a local CSA or that goes to the farmers market. You may have no idea how much your purchase means to that farmer and to the building of a strong and healthy food economy. I’m out in it everyday and I see it. I’m here to rely these messages to you so we can brainstorm and solve. 
On the optimistic side, There’s a lot of people just starting out on this journey too! I am so humbled and in awe of the people coming forward to say they want to make amazing food for people. They are directing their passion at me and asking how they can get started selling and contacting people. 

What I’ve come up with is that we really need to gather all our resources. I use to be a “I do it myself” type person. That was incredibly limiting for me. Now I realize that there is no way we can buy and sell all the food that the farmers need us to. We are limited by customers and what we can haul. But I have ideas. Oh boy, do I have ideas…

We need multiple sources of people helping in numerous different ways so that we can tap into all the different “markets”. We need to accommodate people who need convenience, choice and those that need it super affordable. There may also be people that want to invest in a specific farm like the farmers I was originally talking about. Buying his CSA gives you a share in what the farm produces. It’s an amazing idea, it’s slightly risky, it makes a world of difference and it’s not for everyone. 

We can have people doing farmers market tables for a farmer, even a once a month commitment would be amazing. And we could be supplying someone with an income while they help. We can have more food buying groups like Karen and Monique in regina. They organize farmers drop offs and gather people and provide their homes as a pick up spot. It’s more important than they know. 

There’s a place for everyone that wants to be involved and time will tell who fits where. We need so many different skills to make this work. 

I feel up for the challenge of organizing this. For gathering people and ideas. I know you’re out there… waiting… like I was. Waiting to be a part of something useful and meaningful. Waiting to get my hands dirty and cry and laugh and solve problems and eat glorious foods with the hands that grew it. 
I am here. I am ready. I have messy hair and a uní-brow. I am committed to figuring this out. 

I am here. 

Farm to folk,
Nadine 

Where we’re at. 


I am discovering that things will be  constantly developing in unexpected ways that are completely beyond my control.

  Like this pumpkin. 

It’s unwillingness to ripen at the top is what has made it beautifully remarkable and unique. 

I want to be like this pumpkin. Developing exactly as nature intended and filling my place among pumpkins because of it. What is mine to do? Ripen where you need to and leave the rest for later…or maybe that part is fine as it is, left raw and vulnerable. 

I never would have imagined that things could have develop to the point where we are consistently sourcing local farm foods and bringing it to people and they buy it and actually want it! I’m so humbled by that. We began with zero experience in business and it seems that this time the passion has been enough to sustain us as we continue to learn and grow and do better all the time. 

Thinking back to where we began in that old and tiny farm house… it was so run down but it held enough space for us to dream. Originally we had thought we could have our own gardens and animals and supply people with food from our own little sustainable market.

 OMG were we wrong. 

Farming. Is. Hard. 

Especially if you go at it between two people with no hands-on experience and very limited resources. No amount of passion was enough to deal with the drought and the death that occurred on that farm.

 So, when it came time…Giving up wasn’t as hard as you would think once I realized that I could still pursue the philosophies we held but in new ways…I wasn’t abandoning my dreams. I began to ask where I was needed and what positions were open to being filled in the quest for people to live better. 

 I had begun ordering organic things in bulk and splitting it up among family and friends. Then Chicken Man came along with his abundance of amazing eggs grown in trees that make you feel like moutains on the prairies. He had the beautiful eggs but no market to sell them. I took them to the city and the eggs sold like hot cakes. When his friend, Cam contacted me about his prairie cherries and those sold well too, I realized That something was being built… I looked around and saw so many talented people producing food with no time to take them to market. I saw people struggling to get out the good food. I felt instantly connected as I realized my niche. I could not only bring the foods to the folks, but I could be an advocate for them and the people that want to consume them 

This idea was beyond my wildest dreams and now that we are there, I am wondering what is next…

The food boxes started out small. A few at a time, all laid out on tables in my carport. As winter hit, i did it faster to prevent freezing stuff. The number of people wanting boxes grew quickly as did the food producers contacting me to purchase from them. I rented an office space which we are currently in but totally outgrown. A new space is in our future 

There has been so many challenges to face and I’ve always been able to justify the stress with knowing that what we do adds meaning to the world. Isn’t that what we all want? To do something that is touching and connects us instantly? A drive out to one of the farms always lifts my spirits as I revisit the inspirations and motivations over rolling prairies of deer and cows and salamaders on the road that I swerve to miss. 

We are here, brewing with a couple new faces including Michael and Amanda. We are always dreaming and scheming new ways to organize ourselves and bring efficiency. It’s helping. It’s saved me. Once I realized I wasn’t an island, i began to ask for help. The faces showed up in so many forms. People willin to lend a truck when it’s broke down. Many hands to help load and unload. Encouragement. All along I have kind of expected people to tell me I am crazy but not one person has. Turns out that mountains cabbage and literal tons of ethical meat mean a lot to people. They’re willing to wait. They’re willing to help and be a part of building something. We’ve made sooo many mistakes and it’s often left me wondering why people keep coming back and I guess it’s the same reasons that I keep on… we have to. We have to build something better than our system of over priced, industrialized, nutrient depleted (and robbing) foods. But it’s also so much more than that… it’s about reconnecting to what’s been lost. Community and family and helping each other out. Those thins would have been born out of necessity to survive. We have have “enough” food here but is it working for us? I know it’s not working for me when I go to the city and can’t find anything that feeds me to the level I need.  It it’s changing. Little corner stores like Eat Healthy Foods in regina and buying groups and gardens! People and their gardens! I’ve seen so many examples of people coming together over too much zuchinni. 

So, I guess that’s where we are at. Pondering, listening and growing. We need your input and ideas as we move forward. We are loookin for those new faces that want to get their hands dirty. There’s so much work to be done and it’s so good. It’s so good to eat an amazing meal after a morning of hard, meaningful work. It’s so good to make up songs while we do this meaningful work. It’s also good to feel the stress of it all. Someone has to. I’m committed to pushing past the challenges and finding ways for people to be well fed.
Farm to folk,

Nadine