“A Little Bit of Technology, A Lot of Tradition”
This week’s feature falls on long-time favourite vendors of ours. They offer a unique product, and their hard work is apparent in how it has spread to kitchens all across Northwestern Ontario. Jeff and Andrea Burke, the husband-wife team who own and operate Brule Creek Farms, have become extremely successful in their homegrown, locally milled flours & mixes.
Jeff’s experience in Northwestern Ontario agriculture started at an early age. Perhaps this is part of what has led him and his family to the success story that Brule Creek Farms has become. Raised on a dairy farm, Jeff developed an interest in agriculture early on. After his studies at Lakehead University, Jeff became involved in a project exploring a grain mill as part of a sustainable local food system. In 2008, Jeff and his wife, Andrea, took on their ideas and purchased the land where Brule Creek Farms is now located. What began as 17 acres of wheat has since turned into 165 beautiful acres of wheat, rye and canola crops, complete with their own flour mill.
So how do they do it? What exactly is the technique they’ve mastered? Jeff and Andrea are committed to heritage methods, using a little bit of technology and a lot of tradition to grow, harvest and mill their crops into quality products. They plant and grow almost all of their crops on site, only purchasing from other local farmers when needed. Harvest time sees to proper storage of crops, where it is held until cleaning, screening and drying. Once the grains are gently ground through 2 separate mills, it is sifted and separated into the types of flour it will become. Then it’s bagged and ready for market, where shoppers can purchase their local, ready-to-use flour as well as a variety of mixes.
That brings us to another factor in the success of Brule Creek: their large range of quality products, more than enough to keep any baker happy! Purchasing locally grown and milled flour from Brule Creek means you can expect flour robust in texture, flavour and nutrition. Their flour is available as partially sifted, whole wheat and rye, but they also offer packages of mixes made using their flour. These range from bran muffin mix, scone mix and cookie mixes to pancake mix and fish batter. Most recently, they’ve introduced their new Rosemary Flatbread Mix and Beer Bread Mix. So if baking or cooking isn’t your forte, their easy to follow instructions will have you whipping up a warm batch of any of the above in no time! Or take a peek at their website’s recipe page, full of inspirational ideas using their flour, for the true baker at heart! Not to forget their extra virgin canola oil made from their own canola crop!
While Jeff and Andrea continue to test, improve and better their products, Brule Creek Farms has already become a soft spot in the hearts of those within our community. You can visit them and their products every Saturday morning at the market. Shop around and you’ll notice their products are sold throughout many retail locations. And their name is featured on the menus of many restaraunts, used in everything from breads to pizza dough. In need of a local, creative fundraising initiative? Brule Creek offers that option too.
We at the market are so thankful for this hardworking team who have chosen to work through the challenges of farming in Northwestern Ontario and offer the community a truly unique product. It’s amazing what a little bit of technology and lot of tradition can accomplish!