Corrine Dahm and Darrel Winter
photo – Karen Anderson
I’ve known Darrel Winter and his wife Corrine Dahm since about 2005 when I started doing volunteer work for Slow Food Calgary. I met a lot of Alberta farmers in the six years I worked actively on the board of that organization. Winter and Dahm stood out. Anyone who meets them appreciates the honest and earnest way they conduct themselves and how that translates to the animal husbandry practices of their turkey farm.
In 2007 I first visited their farm and started calling it “the turkey spa”. Beyond a wholesome farm smell, the air is crisp and clean. There is fresh straw bedding laid daily for the turkeys. They have access to the great outdoors, food and water at all times. They are calm. Their life is calm. The only thing missing is a bit of Bach playing softly in the background.
Winter’s father converted the farm from chickens to turkeys in 1958 and Winter still feeds the turkeys the same program his father devised. We’ll talk a bit about that here, share some photos and I’ll share my favourite way to cook a turkey.
Freshly harvested organic barley field at Highwood Crossing Farm
photo – Karen Anderson
Highwood Crossing Farm has been in Tony Marshall’s family for almost 120 years now. The farm is in Aldersyde, Alberta and hugs a curve in the Highwood River. It’s as though the land of the farm and the flow of the river are two lovers spooning. Most of the time, life is that peaceful and serene there.
In June of this year that was definitely not the case. That’s when we Albertans dealt with The Great Alberta Flood of 2013 and Tony and Penny Marshall of Highwood Crossing saw their Highwood Crossing Foods Ltd. processing plant in High River swallowed up by the river. To add insult to injury the basement of their beloved and beautiful home on the family homestead was also devastated. As always, they looked around and thought – things could be worse. They regrouped and are slowly rebuilding as they can. Before long Tony was making a joke that with all that flour and water in High River it was a good thing they did not also make yeast. High River would have had another mess on their hands the likes of a Ghostbusters movie.
This blog will talk about the Highwood Crossing organic grain farm, the products they produce and what’s involved in that process and then finish with a few of Penny Marshall’s delectable recipes. I’ve had the delight of trying these good things and enjoyed them so much I’m confident you will too.
Alberta harvest time land and skyscape
photo from a moving bus – Karen Anderson
I just spent the better part of the last week planning, shopping, cooking, packing up, catering and leading a Foodie Tootle tour to four farms in one day for 43 guests. I’m pooped out but proud of the amazing farmers we visited yesterday and all the goodies my guests were able to gather for their Thanksgiving dinners next weekend.
I’m going to blog a little bit about each of the four farmers we visited this week. Those farms include the following:
Poplar Bluff Organics
Highwood Crossing and the
The Saskatoon Farm.
All through this week, I’ll share some of the recipes these farms have inspired along with some of my family’s favourites.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering what a Foodie Tootle is, I hope you will enjoy this piece I wrote for City Palate describing the origin of the Foodie Tootle farm tours, their goals and what that typical experience looks and feels like.
Did you read the article? Here’s a sample of one of my Bad Turkey Jokes.
Why did the turkey cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off.
Here’s a better punch line to make up for that.
Apple Jack Frost Nipping at your Nose Punch
4 liters apple cider
1 bottle sparkling wine
2 cups Calvados
2 t. Fee Brothers whiskey barrel-aged bitters
Iced apple ring
Combine all of the above in a punch bowl and serve promptly upon guests arrival for a smooth opening to your holiday party. Make the ice ring by slicing 6 apples thinly, overlap them on the bottom of a ring mold, add just enough water so they’ll freeze in position, freeze, then fill the mold with water and freeze again until needed.
It’s never too soon to learn where food comes from
photo – Karen Anderson
Sunday, August 11, 2013 was the kind of Alberta summer day one dreams about.
We have big sky in Alberta. When our big sky is nothing but blue as far as the eye can see and there is not a breath of wind and I have a farm tour booked for my company Calgary Food Tours Inc. – well, that is a sure sign that all is right in the cosmos and my guests are going to have a day they remember their whole lives. I care for that.
I take it as a sign that Alberta and I are working together to help my guests savour their lives. The big Alberta blue sky serves as the perfect backdrop for some deep emotional bonding between city folk and farm folk over the common thread of caring about our food and where it comes from.
The mission for this farm tour was to take thirty people to five farms in one day.
This blog post will describe the day and I’ll throw in some fun recipes as we tour the farms together here. I hope this post will encourage you to take a country drive and visit these farms yourself sometime or at least take a drive as far as the Calgary Farmer’s Market where you can get their truly local produce year round.
I'm so happy to share this lovely blog about the tours my company Calgary Food Tours Inc is doing at The Calgary Farmer's Market. I am fortunate to have lots of talented chef friends and two of my favourites, Pierre Lamielle and Judy Wood agreed to work with me and lead the weekend tours. Check out this great video Telus TV made with Judy talking about our goals. You can just see her passion and I hope people will see how much fun it is to go to the market with a great chef.
I hope we have a wonderful year of connecting Calgary and all the visitors to our city with the Taste of Alberta our food growers can offer them.
Alberta Tastes Great.
See you at the Market
Holly Preston, host of Alberta at Noon proves radio people are smart & look great!
You can find the podcast from my Alberta at Noon food column on CBC Radio One today here.
I love feeding my CBC colleagues. They all have great palates and enjoy eating Alberta produce very much. I hope you enjoy the podcast. I’m at the 10:45 mark. Until next time…savour your food.
This week on Alberta at Noon on CBC Radio One (99.1FM) I’ll be talking about Edible Landscapes and my favourite place to source Prairie Hardy fruit trees and bushes – The Saskatoon Farm in DeWinton, Alberta. I’ve learned the hard way that plants have to be very hardy indeed to make it where I live in Calgary. We are on the edge of the Prairies and at the start of the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This means what we attempt to grow must be tolerant of our semi-arid, hot summer days with long hours of sunshine but also our cold nights and the fierce winds of snow and moisture eating Chinooks. Gardeners here must consider the Hardiness zone rating of every plant they invest in.
Joel Salatin (middle) with #UCanFarm workshop organizers Alex Judd and Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture
You can read my notes on the full day #UCanFarm workshop here.
Spending a day with Joel Salatin was profound. I think I’m a positive person but Salatin’s complete faith in abundance and solutions made me realize I still harbour hesitation and caution that are not serving me in my own small business, Calgary Food Tours Inc. I do believe in the great abundance of our universe in my life in general and in my relationships but somehow I’ve not had the kind of courage to take the leaps I need to take in business. Running a business is relatively new to me. I was a professional nurse for over 20 years and had the luxury of everyone who needed my services lining up in a never-ending queue. I can see now that I need to transfer my faith in life’s abundance and the good of all people to this next arena of my life – my business practices.
I forget to ask for the help I need. I am fearful of taking “the next step”. I wonder how I will find time to do everything I want to do. I am that person that groans when they think of contracts and lawyers and managing staff. My day with Salatin really made me look at all that and exam if any of my fears are justified.
Joel Salatin at the #UCanFarm workshop in High River Alberta
Joel Salatin is a farmer and owner of Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Polyface is 450 acres mixed forest and open grazing land with a biodiverse livestock and soil management program. Polyface provides food directly to 7000 families and 50 restaurants within a four hour radius of the farm and has been featured in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the movie Food Inc.
I signed up for a farming workshop with Salatin produced by Calgary’s Verge Permaculture, not because I have latent plans to become a farmer, but because I wanted to spend a day in the company of someone who has some real solutions for the quandary our food system is in. Salatin delivered. Midway through the day, I introduced myself to Salatin and asked him how much of my notes I could share. His response: share it all; I’m an open source. In fact, he said it with a lovely wide-open smile on his face and we shook hands and I thanked him. Jefferson is not the only polymath to come out of Virginia. I got to meet his modern day contemporary.
This blog is what I was able to glean from the workshop including a short history of Polyface farm, the group’s brainstorming session of why people want to farm, the pros and cons, application of business principles and lots of examples of how aggregate food systems could replace our current industrialized mega grocery supply structures. Salatin actually predicts the day when the middle man could be eliminated and all our fresh food could come directly to your doorstep via farming distribution cohorts. Intrigued? Please read on with my apologies for any mistakes. I’m sure they’re from my note-taking and not Salatin’s depth of knowledge.