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Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

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Penticton Farmer’s Market

Naramata Cider Company Rest Easy pork chops in a cream sauce

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The secret ingredient — Cider Maker’s Select … Rest Easy from the Naramata Cider Company

Seasoned with garlic cloves and shallots, this easy to make pork chops recipe is elevated into the stratosphere with its apple and blackberry hard cider and velvety cream sauce. Adapted from blogger queen of France’s Mimi Thorisson’s new cookbook, French Country Cooking, the recipe takes less than a half hour to prepare.

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Keeping it local…all the ingredients were sourced in the Okanagan Valley including the Naramata Cider Company Rest Easy, lovely thick pork chops from T-Bones in Penticton, cream from D Dutchman Dairy and vegetables from my garden and the Penticton Farmer’s Market.

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in pork chops, 2.5 cm thick
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and smashed
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 2/3 cup Rest Easy Naramata Cider Company apple and blackberry cider
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

IMG_6972.jpgDirections

Preheat oven to 325F

Score the pork chops on both sides and season all over with salt and pepper.

In a large saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes. Add the pork chops and garlic cloves, reduce the heat to medium and cook just until the juices run clear (about 7 minutes per side).

Transfer the pork chops to an ovenproof dish, put the sage leaves on top and spoon the pan drippings over all. Put in the oven to keep warm.

Increase the heat under the pan to high and pour in the cider. Boil for 2 minutes to reduce. Add the heavy cream, stir until thickened and remove from the heat.

Pour the sauce on top of the chops and serve. Pair with the remaining cider!

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Meet you at the market – Penticton revives the town square of old

 

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Joy Road Catering is one of the must-visit stalls at the Penticton Farmers Market. Run by the Okanagan’s top catering chefs, Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart, they sell their signature galletes, wood-fired oven breads, cinnamon buns and these beautiful tarts.

One of the largest and most successful farmer’s markets in British Columbia is in my hood and has become one of our greatest weekly pleasures. Today’s last outdoor market of the season is a time to reflect on the growth of the combined Downtown Penticton Association Community Market and the Penticton Farmers Market and the growing appeal of farmer’s markets across North America.

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This beet “pumpkin” reminds me of volleyball Wilson in one of my favourite movies of all time, Castaway.

A trip to the market is much more than about the food that will fill my wicker market basket. It’s about community, identity, pleasure and as food writer Michael Pollan puts it so well, “about carving out a new social and economic space removed from the influence of big corporations on the one side and government on the other.”

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Still life in leeks.

There is a lot more going on at the Penticton markets than an exchange of money for food. Sitting with my Backyard’s Beans coffee, in a returnable china mug, I look around and see a pair of talented musicians signing an old Joan Baez tune. Someone else is collecting signatures on a petition. Kids are everywhere. Every second person has a dog on a leash. Friends are meeting up and blocking foot traffic as they exchange hugs. Someone is taking photos of the cabbages. I overhear a discussion on leek soup recipes between farmer and customer. I see strangers talking to each other in line.

I read a study that calculated that people have 10 times as many conversations at the farmers’ market than they do at the grocery store. Like going back in time, the market has taken on the function of a lively new town square reminiscent of old world markets from centuries past. How great is that?

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Still life in green and purple.
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Parsnip hair…genius.

The rise in popularity of my local market and markets across the province is not just anecdotal. The latest stats from 2012 show that total economic benefits of all farmers’ markets in British Columbia was greater than $170 million, a 147-per-cent increase from 2006. The study said that the five most important factors market shoppers consider are nutritional content, where it’s grown or produced locally, in season, whether it’s grown or produced in B.C. and animal welfare issues. I think a sixth factor should be added, the mre intangible benefit of farmer’s market shopping –the chance to see people, meet friends and have meaningful exchanges with the farmers that grow our food.

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Lemon tart love.

Willis showing off his apple juggling skills which involves a knife spearing as his grand finale. Don’t try this a home…

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Harvest portraits

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The Okanagan Valley is giving up the last of its bounty in one giant explosion of colour before the grey and white of winter moves in. Most of these photos were captured on the weekend at the Penticton Farmer’s Market or while helping with the grape harvest. Colour wheel!

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To market, to market, to be a fat pig

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Joy Road makes joyous cinnamon buns

It’s summer. The Penticton Farmer’s Market opened two weeks early this year and I hope it closes two weeks later. It was named “2015 Market of the Year” by the British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets for a reason, lots of reasons really. Here is a look at opening day of its 26th season.

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Shrooms
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Tunes
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Pups
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Faces in the crowd
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Arriving in style
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I’ll take two please
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Hundreds of peeps shopped for kale, tomato plants, asparagus and pickles
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Wine tasting…and buying
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Stumped?
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In a pickle?
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Sunshine and carbs at Joy Road
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The market is up and running from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays
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Home again, home again
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Jiggety-jig

One broke girl – the tale of a farmer’s market fail

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Just after set-up at the Penticton Farmer’s Market

 

Carpe Diem Greenhouses, unusual perennials, annuals and herbs grown from seed purchased from French, British and U.S. seed houses, grown to be sold at the Penticton Farmer’s Market was a fail and and yet it wasn’t. Despite a colossal financial flop, it’s one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever embarked on.

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Packed to the rafters

The premise was pretty solid: The Penticton Farmer’s Market is thriving and teaming with locals and visitors and gets bigger every year. Gardening is growing by leaps and bounds. People at the market buy lots of plants. There was no competition for my rare and unusual niche.

The due diligence: Not so diligent.

Here is a partial list of the costs to get up and running as well as ongoing costs:

  • Seeds – $680.71
  • Soil, perlite and grit – $152.84
  • Greenhouse winterizing – $435 (Note, I’m not even including the cost of the greenhouse in this equation. I’m happy to have it for my own garden use luckily as it would skew my figures to the point of  bankruptcy vs. simple fail)
  • Pots, plug trays, domes – $354.28
  • Fancier large pots – $329.58
  • Heat mats – $139.00
  • Extension cord – $159.00
  • Plant markers – $42.00
  • Heating the greenhouse (electric heater) – $400
  • Lumber to retrofit our trailer to bring the plants to market – $200
  • Market tent – $230
  • Farmer’s market table rental – $30/week
  • Banner – $150
  • Misc. ?
  • Labour – love
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Getting ready for seeding

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Starting to load the trailer on market day

The fun?

Seed ordering is near the top of the list. Centaurea black boy, Kitaibelia Vitifolia, Digitalis Camelot Cream F1, Penstemon pinacolada violet blue, aquilegia chocolate soldiers, kniphofia traffic lights, nepeta blue moon, eurodium sweetheart, salpiglossis kew blue, aristolochia littoralis, blue myth, giant flower Edelweiss, Cerinthe kiwi blue…

My ambitious goal was to grow something different and not readily available at local garden centres that the keen gardner would like to try. I ordered from Plants of Distinction, the British branch of Thompson & Morgan, Seedman (U.S.) and a French seed house I’ve lost the receipt from.

Even more fun are the hours spent in the greenhouse. Radio, coffee and seeding. Radio, coffee, misting and watering. Radio, coffee thinning and transplanting. I would wake up earlier and earlier like a hopped up kid on a three-month long string of Christmas mornings. Opening the greenhouse door and then unzipping the plastic inner liner the Handyman added for heat retention, I could feel the humidity and smell the warm soil and eventually the blooms. Methodically working from one end of the greenhouse to the other, removing domes, misting, watering, these hours are some of the most satisfying times of my life. I smile now as I think of them.

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I used every square inch of space and had to do some gymnastics to reach all the plants
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This guy liked it in the greenhouse too and hung around for a month or two
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The wooden inner structure and added layer of poly helped keep the heating bill down in February and early March

Fun part three. The market experience rates highly as well. Waking up early to load and unload the trailer and set up was satisfying. After all the nurturing, moving trays and plants for hardening off, tagging and pricing to see them all displayed was an, “I made fire!” moment. My first customer was cool too. Having a line-up at one point was pretty great too. Talking about plants and growing and saying, “You need full sun for that one,” multiple times never got old.

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The Handyman helped with set up and take down

I sold plants and made money. On my best Saturday I cleared $400 which was the heating bill sorted. I learned that my local clients were very price conscious and many happy to plant run-of-the mill geraniums and petunias at the incredibly cheap prices afforded by big-box operations. On the other hand, tourists were happy to try something new and found my prices very reasonable. Keen to go into a second year, we took a careful look at the cost/revenue picture and despite my enthusiasm and the fun of it all, the numbers just didn’t add up.

The priceless experience:

  • A garden full of “left-overs” which were luckily largely perennials
  • Seed starting and growing healthy plants knowledge
  • Met some nice fellow vendors and locals
  • Life-long memories of my early-morning greenhouse days which I call up in times of stress
  •  A bigger greenhouse than I really need which is an appreciated luxury
  • Keen interest in affordable, renewable energy to heat my greenhouse in the future
  • A better understanding of Farmer’s Market economics

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The next venture…organic berries. We have 125 raspberry canes, about 25 blueberry bushes and a good-sized strawberry patch. Another 100 canes will be planted this spring. No heating bill, no ongoing costs for soil, pots, seeds, berries always sell out first at the market… Stay tuned.

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