Find this month’s featured coffee at any of our market locations, including the Community Cafe at the 10th Avenue Market!
By Lauren Mangion, Conscious Home
The story of Rock Ridge Dairy began with 2 things: a long-held dream of being a farmer, and goats. According to his wife Cherylynn, Patrick Bos only ever wanted to be a farmer. He had been milking cows for farms neighboring his family’s since he was 14 years old. When Cherylynn and Patrick married, she joined in his vision and they became the second generation on Patrick’s family’s farm between Lacombe and Ponoka, raising beef heifers. Realizing quickly that the economy of scale was not in their favor, that they would never have enough cows on their land base to make a living, they turned to other opportunities. An ad in the paper from a dairy processing facility looking for goat dairy products caught Patrick’s attention. He mentioned it to Cherylynn and then quickly dismissed it, until one night she woke up with the realization that it was what they needed to do.
They worked long days with 2 milkings a day, and other jobs at the same time, until the processing facility shut down, which Cherylynn describes as, “the best worst thing to happen.” They say necessity is the mother of invention, and necessity certainly spurred big things for Rock Ridge Dairy. It didn’t take long for the Boses to realize that to be sustainable in their quest to farm for a living, they needed to take the processing into their own hands. 1 year later, they had built a processing facility on the farm.
Meanwhile, one of Alberta’s two certified organic dairy processing facilities had closed its doors, leaving many small-scale farmers without a processor for their products. Cherylynn and Patrick found a number of these farmers at their door one day, offering up another opportunity for their on-farm facility. Rock Ridge Dairy now proudly processes and packages certified organic cow’s milk products brought to them by local Albertan organic dairies that strictly adhere to Canada’s organic standard. The cows are not given antibiotics or hormones and are fed certified organic feed. Another unique aspect of Rock Ridge’s organic milk products is that the milk comes from Jersey cows, whereas most milk in Alberta is from Holsteins. Jersey milk is known to be sweet and creamy.
Aside from the prompting of local dairy farmers, Rock Ridge Dairy moved into organic products because they felt that Albertans were really demanding a quality local product. “Recently there has been a huge push from the government, consumers and grocers to grow the market for all the great food that is produced here in Alberta, and I am so glad for it and to be part of it,” says Cherylynn.
Rock Ridge Dairy is starting with a fluid line of 1%, 2% and 3% organic milk which will be new to Community Natural Food’s dairy cooler this month!
Basic Roots is a Calgary-based business that creates ready-to-go, delicious, raw foods. Owner Paula Bellavance began at a local farmers market selling pre-sprouted, pre-soaked nuts and grains and other essentials for those interested in incorporating raw foods into their diet. When popular raw food proponent David Wolfe came to town several years ago, Paula decided to demonstrate some pre-made raw food treats at his talk. Little did she know there would be no going back. Her tasty and very healthy line of snacks captured many people’s attention and tastebuds, and there was a strong demand for her to continue making her prepared raw foods. Once Community Natural Foods began carrying Basic Roots, Paula decided to go strictly wholesale.
It may be surprising to learn that preparing raw foods can be more laborious and time-consuming than cooked foods. For example, one of Basic Roots’ most popular items, the Fig Bars, begin 3 days before going to the dehydrator for the final stage. The oats are soaked (which is thought to make the oats more digestible), rinsed, dehydrated and made into flour just before the cookies are prepared. Then the recipe is mixed and put into the dehydrator shortly before the cookies reach store shelves. Each individual cookie is handmade.
Behind every recipe is the Basic Roots commitment that ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality. Paula takes great care in sourcing unpasteurized, organic ingredients and it is of the utmost importance to her that Basic Roots fans can count on the integrity of the ingredients. From her perspective, raw foods demand a high level of freshness and quality because the flavors are so pronounced without cooking.
If you’ve never tried raw foods before, Basic Roots makes it very easy to overcome any skepticism through one of life’s greatest selling points; the tasty factor. Paula shares how many people adore Basic Roots’ creations without even knowing they are eating raw food. Plus, raw foodists consider eating raw to have many health benefits. Without the use of heat in the process, vital enzymes and nutrients stay in tact and remain in the food. Coconut oil, cacao butter, and nuts which feature highly in the Basic Roots line are all thought to be healthy fats and very nutritionally satisfying. Paula says that many customers buy the cookies for breakfast or as quick nourishing snacks. Finally, a breakfast cookie you can feel good about!
Paula likes having relationships with the stores that sell her products, which is why she likes working with Community Natural Foods. She feels a strong level of support and community through her interactions with CNF. “It’s not about having high volumes and making sales, but relationships and making impact with the products carried,” shares Paula. Community carries the Basic Roots full line- crackers, cookies, bars and kale chips.
For this month’s installment of “Meet the Locals” I interviewed Tim Hoven of Hoven Farms, located near Eckville, Alberta. Tim is a passionate advocate of sustainably grown local food, and has played a significant role in growing Calgary’s local food scene over the past 15 years. Community Natural Foods is proud to carry both of Hoven Farm’s grass and grain finished beef options.
CNF: Tim, tell us about the history of Hoven Farms.
TH: Hoven Farms was first started in 1910 by my great-grandfather, Mathias Hoven who moved to Alberta from South Dakota. I am the fourth generation of Hoven to be operating the farm, which I have been doing since 1996. My dad never liked working with chemicals, so he went chemical-free in 1991. He was never content with status quo farming, and pioneered lots of changes around the farm. In 1995, my wife and I attended a seminar by Joel Salatin (often called “America’s most influential farmer”) in Rocky Mountain House and got excited about direct market farming. In 1997 we started producing certified organic chickens and were raising certified organic beef by 1999.
CNF: You were certainly a pioneer of Alberta’s organic movement, why is it so important to you?
TH: Working with nature is a foremost principle of growing and raising organic food. We do what we do to work closer with nature and give a better product to our customers. We provide beef that is 100% grass finished with no growth hormones or antibiotics, which is how nature intended cows to eat. We also provide an organic grain finished option for our customers that don’t like the taste of grass-fed beef. We care for our animals and we care for our soil. We do everything we can to have happy cows that have the freedom to express their “cowness”, as Joel Salatin says. I’d like to see 8 generations of Hovens farming the same land, but if I treat my soil badly, there won’t be a 6th. We’re not just looking at sustainable agriculture, we’re working for regenerative agriculture. We continually add to our topsoil by carefully managing how our animals graze. The animals eat the top nutritious part of the plants, and the remainder goes back into the soil, adding valuable nutrients. We have to realize that we can’t keep taking from nature without giving back.
CNF: How did you come to be such a strong voice for the sustainable local food movement in Calgary?
TH: It’s not something I tried to do, it basically fell into my lap. We started selling our products at the Sunnyside Market in 1998 and at that time we would be laughed at when we said our meat was organic. We had to explain what the word meant to every single customer. Now, I don’t even remember the speech I had to give, because there has been such a huge cultural shift. There definitely would not have been feature films about the food system 15 years ago.
I believe that many people have lost their roots, and my kids and myself are fortunate to have deep roots in our land; 5 generations on the same dirt. By connecting people with their food and the land that grew it, we help provide roots and connect people more closely to the community of Calgary, and Alberta. Our lives are 100% dependant on the food we eat. We feel that we are improving lives by letting our customers know how their food is grown and where it’s coming from. It’s easy to be passionate about a mission like that.
Our Product of the Week this week is Cinderella’s Organic Lavender Housecleaning Spray. Prince Charming (Mark) and Cinderella (Yvone) develop their spray from the town of Ymir in the West Kootenay’s of B.C.Their reusable bottle, the first of it’s kind in Canada, can be returned to any Community Natural Store and its skin safe formula takes the worry out of cleaning up around the house.
|Claudia’s intention is to bring “envirosponsible” products on the market. The birth of her daughter was a catalyst to making better choices for her family, and making those same options available for other families quickly followed. It all started with cloth diapers for the baby, and continued with laundry detergent for the diapers and everyday washings.|
|When you clean with Local Calgary company, small planet cleaners you are spreading a little bit of peace throughout your home so it can flow out to the rest of the the world. You never have to worry about burning your skin or your respiratory system, and washing them down the drain is guilt free because they are biodegradable and they don’t linger around in our atmosphere.
Locally mixed and packaged in Calgary. All natural super concentrate made from the oil of the orange peel (d’limonene). All plant based ingredients No chlorine bleach or sodium hypochlorite, phosphates or phosphate derivatives, ozone depleating chemicals (ODC), or glycol ethers. Safe for all of your household cleaning needs.
“Elbow Falls Wapiti is a small Elk ranch tucked away in the Foothills west of Calgary. They are in the Priddis Bragg Creek area positioned on 100 acres of the Kananaskis valley. The rolling hills and park like setting make home to Pat and Win Niebler along with their children. The ranch was established in 1994 and grew out of their interest in the health benefits of Elk.
Busy with their professional jobs and deep appreciation for nature and the land, Elk farming seems to be the perfect balance. When Win is asked, “Why Elk”? He answers with a heavy Bavarian accent, “they are beautiful, smart and are well adapted to the habitat, and after all, they have roamed this land for a long time.
Animal care is a high priority and is evident in the pride taken on the ranch. The Elk are never fed with antibiotic medications, growth hormones, feed supplements or animal by-products. Alberta ranched Elk is provincially inspected and meets stringent food safety regulations, resulting in a safe healthy product.
Ranched Elk is a culinary treat with a tender, mild distinct flavour. It can be included in many cooking styles and cuisines. Elk meat is low in cholesterol and calories, yet provides a higher amount of protein compared to most meats. It is important to remember that this product should not be compared to wild hunted game that is influenced by age, season and diet. We are confident that you will find the taste and quality of this Elk to be a far superior experience, enjoy!
Elbow Falls Wapiti has been supplying Community Natural Foods with fine product for the last number of years.
|First Nature Farms (or “the Ranch”) as it has been known since 1918, is located in the Goodfare area of the Peace River Country in Alberta just four miles east of the British Columbia border. They have been a long term suppliers of Community Natural Foods
Certified Organic since 1990 the operation produces bison, beef, pork, chickens, eggs, Merriam’s wild turkeys and domestic turkeys.
Jerry Kitt farms with his wife Sam and their two children Donovan and Kari. They farm holistically, basing decisions on sustainability, not simply production. Committed to low-stress management of all their animals, Jerry and Sam were awarded the Alberta S.P.C.A.’s “Farmer of the Year” award in 1996.
First Nature Farms is operated as an ecological reserve. It is home to many species including Trumpeter swans, mountain bluebirds, wolves and grizzly bears. The farm goal is to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the land.
The Kitt family believes in the philosophy of Holistic Management, www.holisticmanagement.org. Their mission is to educate people to manage land for a sustainable future. They accomplish this by delivering a variety of programs and services designed to educate and support farmers, ranchers and land stewards in their efforts to enhance the land through Holistic Management, a Whole Farm/Ranch Planning System that, naturally, mimics nature.
First Nature Farm has also been a part of the WWOOF program (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) since 1995. They have had folks visit from Japan, Korea, Iceland, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, France, even Canada