Photo: Ken shows us how pepper picking is done.
About a week and a half ago, Chris and I were invited to join Ken from Red Barn Plants & Produce on his weekly drive up to their property in Cawston, BC. Uh…YES PLEASE!
Ken, Elke and Erik run Red Barn Plants & Produce and they grow REALLY GOOD FOOD. Chris and I started buying their produce at the Haney Farmers Market last summer and we love it. Their fruit and veggies are always delicious (especially their tomatoes!).
So, when Ken extended the invite to us one Saturday while we manned our own little produce booth, we jumped at the chance. Any opportunity to spend time with other farmers, hear their stories, learn from them and see their properties is really appealing to us newbies. We have so much to learn!
We’d actually been given a wonderful tour of Red Barn’s Maple Ridge property back in the early spring while discussing the potential for fresh food and plants to be sold through an in-the-works local Maple Ridge food coop. Their local property is incredibly inspiring and for Chris and I, represents similarities to the kind of gardening space and market business we aspire to have ourselves one day.
Having seen how well they produce large quantities of quality food on a few acres in Maple Ridge, we were curious to see their larger property in Cawston, a part of BC that lends itself to warmer, drier summers which means different kinds of crops than the ones we grow on the coast. We hitched a ride with Ken in the Red Barn truck and talked farming stuff all the way up, immensely enjoying the ride and the colourful welcome of fruit stands as we arrived in Cawston. Once there, we met Erik who manages the property and got to work – harvesting food that would be making the trip back to the Lower Mainland the next day for the week’s market booths and farm gate sales.
Peppers, tomatoes, beets, carrots, apples, melons… It was so fun to help harvest armloads of this stuff (such different quantities than our little garden produces!). We put in a good few hours of helping out, had a tour of the place, watched a neighbour start an accidental hillside fire, and partook in a delicious pasta dinner with sauce straight from the garden (Erik’s a great cook!). Then we talked more farm stuff as daylight disappeared and I fell asleep embarrassingly early.
The next morning, we did some more harvesting before Ken and Erik sent us on a morning orchard walk while they packed up the truck. Then it was “goodbyes” and “thank yous” and off the three of us went with a truck full of fresh food, while Erik stayed behind to hold down the fort and start prepping for garlic planting.
I’ve mentioned this before, but Chris and I are so, SO grateful to the farmers we’ve been getting to know through the market. We feel like we’re being taken under some very wise, knowledgeable and friendly farmer wings and it makes us feel supported and encouraged. It feels like a special thing – entering into this world of healthy soil protectors and food growers and we’re thankful for the welcome.
To Ken, Elke and Erik – thanks for letting us tag along for a few days. It was great. You’re great! See ya at the market!Erik harvests carrots…
Chris shows off his bucket of hot peppers…
And I collect apples!