Today was the first market of the season…good timing considering that the strawberries were harvested for the first time on Thursday!! This was also the first market for a number of Farm Staff, Market Crew volunteers, and Sowing Seeds Farm Apprentices. With team work and guidance from more experienced folks, it came off as a resounding success for all involved!!
Tents were quickly pitched and humble Rubbermaid produce tubs yielded luscious displays of colour and texture at the market tables. Fresh radishes and strawberries practically glowed, while the garlic scapes, mizuna, mustard, arugula, and spinach looked good enough to, well, eat! Eggs were carefully stacked, and aromas from freshly-cut mint, sage, oregano, and winter savoury wafted temptingly around, as buckets of towering foxgloves bobbed above heads on their way to the flower table.
Spirits were high among farm crew and customers alike, and nearly everyone was able to breathe deeply and enjoy the refreshing experience of finding themselves on a working farm in the middle of the city with the sun shining and the birds singing. However, peace and tranquility were definitely optional with all of the other kickoff events happening around the farm! These included a 100-Mile Pancake Breakfast presented by the 100-Mile Diet Society, a Children’s Area with farm games and activities, farm tours, live music, tool sharpening by Henk Seys (Lee Valley Tools), and bike tune ups courtesy of the UBC Bike Kitchen.
The 100-Mile Pancake Breakfast was especially exciting, since fresh food is practically always on the minds of hardworking farm staff and apprentices! By the time most of us arrived, the farm kitchen was already bustling with multiple portable burners, steam trays, and an apron-clad crew, led by Chef Ian Lai. Since the pancakes were served near the market, there was also a pancake runner, who could be seen sprinting around throughout the morning with trays of pancakes for hungry breakfast goers. The meal itself featured milk from Avalon Dairy, eggs and mint from the UBC farm, soft white wheat flour from the Flour Peddler (Agassiz), yogurt from Olympic Dairy Products Ltd., blueberry honey from James Honey Bees, and strawberries from Maan Farms. The Pancake Breakfast was not only in honour of the season’s first market, but was also celebrating the launch of the 100-Mile Diet Society’s new Foodshed Map, a collaborative piece by local writers and artists designed to educate the public about local and sustainable food systems.
Some of the children at the market enjoyed the farm games, while others practiced harvesting one of the UBC farm’s most plentiful and reliable crops: rocks!! (Note: the staff and apprentices are experts at this task!). Some children also found that rolling down the hill after breakfast was the activity of choice. A few children who were past participants of the Farm Wonders Summer Camp and/or the school-based Landed Learning Program took the time to show their families around the Children’s Garden—it turns out that food knowledge can be passed up generations as well as down!
As the sun rose higher in the sky, produce made its way into a variety of reusable bags and baskets, pancakes ran low, and herbs began their final journey toward the salad bowl, soup pot, or mojito. Staff, volunteers, and apprentices gradually wound down the event and looked forward to an afternoon spent in the field, encouraging growth for next Saturday’s bounty. Hope to see you there!