Progress, not perfection.

I’m still fairly ridiculous, eh? If I sit and really thinking about, this basket full of foreign produce seems so extreme to me. The lengths it would have taken to get this here to me… many hands and machinery and trucks and boats and maybe even planes over thousands of kilemetres of oceans, forests, deserts and skies. And the warehouses!!! They would be bigger than I can fathom! It seems like a fairy tale to have these foods. Imagineif we were to tell this story to someone a hundred years ago. Would they believe me that we can pretty much have everything all the time but for the cost of taste and nutrients? Would they chose this abundance over flavour and the satisfaction of sourcing and growing your own?  It wasn’t that long ago that an orange was a party trick for only the rich. 

I do this often. I load up my basket and ponder the implications. I stick my tongue in a blackberry and wonder who’s fingers were wrapped around it. How did they feel? Were they hot? Thirsty? Do they appreciate and love these blackberries or are they a means to an end? 

I’m pretty happy that I can think about these things and it doesn’t stress me out anymore. We are humans needing to eat and we do what we have to, like any other animals, to survive. What matters most to me now is the actions I’m taking towards change and education combined with what I am doing most of the time. Am I increasingly improving?  We can’t suddenly change and have ourselves be in the perfect place. There’s a process. And each step in that process is going to be glorious as we make the connections. You can tell instantly when it happens. You become centred and ready for the next step. 

Every day I learn new ways to live in a system that supports itself. I don’t see that happening any time soon but I feel a part of its development and I’m excited to see how much further our children will take it. 


When Salty Meets Sweet

I found myself in a batch of granola today. Instantly, for one moment, I knew how to be in the world. There was something about the way the oats absorbed the ingredients so willingly without hesitation. I felt immersed in thoughts about the butter coming from a cows udder and how someone was in tune enough to foresee that they could separate the milk and whip it into delicious energy rich fat. 

And the maple syrup! We can buy it anywhere and every drop of it comes from a tree! We can drain the trees “blood” and it continues to make more and live for hundreds of years while lending us its energy source full of minerals. It just makes more. 

The whole crunchy granola process always brings my entire being back. It’s such a simple process but it demands my mindful attention. If I lose focus, I burn my granola and I have to cry and start over. I usually set a timer as well as commit to being in the kitchen, present with it. I like to add salt as a contrast to the sweetness. I love life’s contrasts. Sweety sweetness and the salty saltiness. In their differences, they make the other one stand out.  They hold true to what they are without apology. Salt doesn’t attempt to be sweet but it can go along with it perfectly. They are strong together and if we are able to embrace them and feel the balance they hold we will feel a certain feeling that we don’t have a name for. Different cultures have different words for this balance. I wish we did. For now, I call it a true “mmmm” said with a shiver running up through my body. 

What kind of food would it be if the chef said “no, we cannot combine those ingredients because they are too different”?

And so there I was. In the granola I discovered that I can be me and anyone can be them. And together we are so strong with salty and sweet and we welcome in sour and bitter and please let there be spicy along the way. And don’t get me started on colours and textures, oh my! We need them all. 

Because it takes all kinds. 

What Wants To Grow 

I often think about what the next step is. I realize that with everything, there’s always further to go. I am never done. My actions and opinions right now are going to evolve past what I am currently doing… 
I’ve been working at the warehouse in Moose Jaw a lot lately. I hold the foods we have so abundantly and I wonder what the next step is to the way we are purchasing foods from farmers and how we are eating now. 

Working with farmers, has given me a new perspective on what it means to eat local. Eating farm fresh food is life changing and enhancing for the farm but it isn’t the end. And to be honest, often it isn’t enough. There is so much more we can do than just buy their foods and products. We can begin to understand how to purchase rather than just choosing what to purchase. 

I ponder this a lot. Especially as I’m sorting through 6 large Rubbermaid bins of organs and bones along with hundreds  of pounds of fat. These foods have seriously fallen out of fashion. Which makes me wonder why. My 88 year old neighbour told me that liver was a treat enjoyed only at harvest time. And they looked forward to it. Now, many of us can’t stomach it. I’ve had to work hard to eat liver. I mix it with copious amounts of fresh herbs, Carmelized onions butter and cream. I like it more every time which is surprising considering it use to make me gag. 

I ponder this even more as a farmer calls and tells me he wants to sell something at a loss just to get rid of it. And I feel sad and then suddenly empowered to explain to people why it is imperative they eat 3 dozen eggs a day each. And they do. Because I think they feel it too. 😆

I was asked the other day what Keith Neu, a farmer by Hudson Bay, should grow for us. While I felt honoured that We would be considered, I felt sad that my appetite would dictate what he grows. It seems impractical to grow something simply because I want to taste it. And trust me, I want to taste all the certain things but I’m having to shift my perspective but I see it’s not sustainable. Remember the rubbermaids of organs, bones and fat?

I can’t dictate what he grows simply because, I have no idea what wants to grow. I don’t understand his soil or the way the wind falls on it. He does. And who knows what the unique season will bring? Maybe he’ll plant my favourite squash but tomatoes will overrun instead. 

I often get farmers asking if we should lower the prices to get people to purchase more of something specific, such as lamb. The prices were already set after careful calculations that would dictate what they need in order to continue to run the farm. I hesitate to allow this to happen, where someone is selling me themselves short. I think we need many strategies. Diversity. Nature is strongest with many ways. We need education, to help people understand why and what to eat along with understanding and assistance for people that cannot afford this food. And that will mean all the food: nose to tail. Root to leaf? I’m hoping we will strike a balance with those ideas along with the ones other people will bring to the sturdy legged farm table. 

 If we want to produce enough ethical food to feed us all, we are going to have to embrace what wants to grow. I want to be able to tell our farmers to grow what they love to sow. Plant it deep without expectation or attachment. Know that whatever comes, I support you in it fully and I will eat it. That is what I want them to grow for us. His wisdom and experience and insights into his land should have a lot more leverage than my desires. Because my desires are changing. I want what grows. 

It’s gonna take all kinds 

This could be interesting…I’ve committed to blogging everyday. That means you will all be subject to whatever demons I am battling that day as well as the inspirations that are lifting me up. 

Lately these words have been coming to me: it’s gonna take all kinds. 

I saw someone in the grocery store. She us d language I disagreed with. That’s ok, because it’s gonna take all kinds. 

I exerienced someone who has totally different political beliefs than me. Rock on. 

It’s gonna take all kinds. 

Someone disagrees strongly with the food I put in my face. I got yer back. 

It’s gonna take all kinds. 

My ideas are ignored and someone uses only theirs. Great! 

It’s gonna take all kinds.

Because that is exactly how nature works and how it gains strength: with diversity. And I don’t mean diversity as more, by complicating things and creating sooo much. No. Diversity combined with simplifying by taking the path of least resistance. It may seem lazy to do what’s easier, but the goals we need to achieve are hard enough as it is. The tasks for them can be easier. I don’t always know how but I wait and eventually I just see it and then I do it. The Wandering Market has not been easy at all but it was because I didn’t always see what needed to happen. Or I tried to force it. Or I just didn’t know. You done know till you try. Just like I don’t totally know the point I am trying to make. But that’s ok. And if you disagree with me, that’s great. Because it’s going to take all kinds. Including you. 

Picture by Mariana Brito at The Backyard in Regina. 

Where We Are At

I keep asking myself where this market is going and trying to remember why it is important.  It’s been so hard and so blessed to have amazing people to take over for me. I’ve been so distracted but I sense it coming back…

I keep thinking about my dad limping around while he served customers their apples and my heart hurts so much. I never imagined in a million years that the limp could mean he wouldn’t be with us in a few months. I think about how bad it was the last time and how he just suffered through a lung cancer tumour that had eaten away at his femur bone. I’m stopped dead in my tracks. 

What’s happening here? 

Why would nature do this to itself? 

I imagine that there is a hard and very painful lesson for us here. 

The first time he was in the hospital, before we knew the severity of what was happening, he handed me some business cards he had made. They said “The Wandering Market” and had his name on them with my name and Michaels. A team of three never meant to be. 

I cried so hard over those cards a week later after I googled his symptoms and came up with stage 4. Not curable. 

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and adjusting and learning since then. I’m in BC to be with him and running the market from afar. 

Seeing it from a distance is making me see things. I want to do more. Help more. What do people need? 

We need more options and they need to be affordable. I’m at a restaurant right now and most of what they serve is local organic foods. The salad pictured below is from “heart beet” in Kimberley and it’s local sliced beets with local creamy feta and local micro greens with walnuts. It felt amazing to eat it and it’s inspired me for new recipes It’s easy to eat well here. I can do it without thinking as every corner has a grocery store or cafe with good food that’s holds up to my standards. Even the hospital had organic coffee and local organic cream. There’s an amazing dairy by here. I want this for my  Saskatchewan peeps. It’s growing and that why we keep on. We will be strong and our children will eat well and not have to search and worry and doubt as we have had to do. We need to keep on as there’s so much further to do. 

And so I want to leave you with my latest inspiration … I want to try for the March orders, offering food boxes and $100 meat packs at cost for people that are struggling to afford good food. There will be the option to pay $100 or $75 for each and people can choose what they pay depending on their circumstances. 

I don’t know what will come of it or if it’ll work or if it’ll make us go broke but we have to try. We have to try for a better future where everyone has good food in their bellies. 

The market means everything to me. And that is why: for The people that have come together for the common good.

Much love to you all. 

Take care of each other. 

Sharing The Abundance

I go through this before every big Farm To Folk Weekend…

How the heck am I going to pull this off?

There is so much to organize and pick up and deliver and pay for and this weekend is over double anything we have ever done. Big breath.

It always works out and with each time we keep getting better and better. Something major clicked last time as so many of us came together and did our part. It left us wanting to do more as we realized we are so powerful in numbers. I think it inspired customers too as we received so many emails and hugs and praises about how good the pick up was. On we go…

I have begun simplifying and separating and finding people to fill in the areas where my lack and faults lie. There are so many things I am not good at and for a while I pretended and pushed through it. We really can’t do it all. It makes me wonder why I even tried when there are people perfectly suited and happy for the job. There is such a joy and efficiency in giving over control to other people and allowing them to use their fresh energies and passion. There’s a place for us all. Isn’t that a freeing concept?

With this business, I have had more personal growth happen than with anything, even parenting! It has pushed me to extremes and breaking points that I never thought possible.  It has given me the opportunity to explore the fears that could paralyze me. What if I disappoint people or something goes wrong or we aren’t able to make a profit?

All of those things have happened and we’ve moved through them. The bigger the orders, the easier it is getting to trust and move forward and keep working at it.

I would like to explore one of the big fears that I see coming up for a lot of people. I went through this a lot in the beginning and still do: fear of COMPETITION.

With a lot of people offering the same products, it leads some of us to fear that there may not be enough customers and enough recognition for everyone.  I will admit that this fear comes up as a reaction but I have dealt with it enough now to recognize it and I have found a somewhat easy way to conquer it. Do the opposite of what the fear tells me. The fear tells me to keep people and things for myself. So, instead I share and open myself and understand that there will be enough. I can always adapt too if the people no longer need a certain product. I can bring in something else or find new ways to use a product combined with educating people about Eating The Abundance. Which means that we enjoy the season of what is available to its fullest rather than expecting to have everything all the time like a grocery store. It is highly rewarding to  eat something until we become sick of it and then we have a season bring in new freshness and flavours for us.

But I am getting off topic, I wanted to talk about competition. Over the last few months, I have heard some rumours and truth that I was pissing off farmers. They feared that I was cutting into their business. Some told me that to my face and it cut so deep because farmers are the main reason I started this. It would be ironic if my efforts were actually hurting farmers. So, I began to think about what I needed to do to get my message across to them that I am here to help. I, along with a whole host of other people, are building a market for local farm foods as well as educating people on why it is important and how to use the foods. And everyone will get to share in this abundance in one way or another, I promise. I also may have an advantage on farmers and that is that I am not on a farm. I am not tied to haying and hauling and heaving. Well, I do a lot of heaving but that is the boxes of their wonderful products. I also am in an unbiased position where I am standing on the outside and I can see the big picture of both farmers and consumers. I can consider both sides and look for ways to meet both of their needs. I am here. I am available to do this and I am just overflowing with ideas and inspirations as are the people that I work along side with.

Nature is naturally competitive but in ways I don’t think I fully understand yet. I observe it a lot to try. I can see that the competition creates diversity by forcing one to gain one up on the other. Diversity is where strength comes from in nature, and we are nature too. Think flu strains and our immune systems. Constantly evolving. Competition along with sharing, like the birds in my yard. What we do affects everyone. If we build good things, it will benefit us all. Especially if we allow people to explore and use what we have built. It is exactly what I am doing. I am taking what the farmers have built and I find a place for me. There are a lot of spaces yet to fill as we move into realizing that we have lost touch with our main life source and along that way we lost our connection to nature and maybe to each other. There’s going to be a lot of outlets to rediscover this. It makes me wonder if we needed to lose our way so we could remember how important we are to each other.

Thank you for listening. I wanted to share this to let people know that success isn’t all that we see on facebook. It isn’t just likes and shares and comments. Behind it is people workin through fear and moving on from failures like someone may have not not fully hooked up a trailer before they drove away…ooops. Or forgetting produce outside in freezing temperatures… oops. Or forgetting to bring someone’s order… twice. three times. I felt in my body that these things could have paralyzed me from going further. At first I didn’t want to face them. It looked easier to just stay home and live a normal, modest life. What fun would that be though? I’m going to keep on keepin’ on. I can face this. We can do this. And along the way, I get to enjoy amazing foods and connect with you. Thank you for being here.

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,