A Year’s Worth: Our Growers

Check out the article in the Walleye for more info. *photo by Tara George, the Walleye, Jan 2015Thunder Bay’s local food community is growing, and we’re so happy to be part of it!  2014 was a banner year for growth in the local food sector in many ways, and not just for farmers.  Stay tuned for the next couple of posts while we check out some of the ways local food has changed in Thunder Bay in just a short year!  

Year-Round Veggies.  We started out 2014 with our first year-round veggie farmer; last winter Veg.e.tate Market Garden attended with limited supplies of salad sprouts and greens grown in their low-temperature greenhouses.  This year they’re joined by Belluz Farms, whose new storage building has enabled them to keep cellar vegetables over winter; they’ll be offering them as long as supplies last.

Funny Weather.  It was a weird year for our veggie growers; our rainy summer was really hard on field tomatoes and squashes, so their season was a little shorter than everyone could have wished for.  DeBruin’s Greenhouses’ increased production of tomatoes last year ended up being very timely.  A number of growers are increasing their cold-weather crops – those stored potatoes, turnips, carrots and cabbages you’ll be able to enjoy this winter benefited from the cool, wet weather.  Growers of broccoli, Brussels sprouts or other cold-hardy veggies with short shelf lives also had a good crop.  New farm Whitefish Valley Vegetables – specializing in cold-weather field veggies – joined us this year, along with a mushroom harvester who did very well.

lovelocalbeefThe Price of Beef.  Last year you may have noticed beef prices going up in the grocery stores.  This is putting pressure on the supply of locally-available beef, because commercial markets are offering our local farmers high prices for their animals while they’re still calves.  There’s always beef available at the Market, but if you’re looking for large quantities please talk with your farmer in advance to make sure it’s available!

Milk Bypass.  Last year we learned that the Dairy Farmers of Canada have changed the way milk is shipped in our area.  As a result of the DFC’s efficiency plans, milk from west of us – including farms in Manitoba – now travels to Thunder Bay to be processed, while much of our local milk travels east to plants in places like Sudbury for Jim and Kyle Mol cut the fence at Slate River Dairy in preparation for driveway construction for the new dairy plant.  April 2014.processing.  That means we’re not able to enjoy local Thunder Bay milk like we used to.  Happily, vendor Slate River Dairy “cut fence” at the end of April last year to begin construction of a new dairy plant where they’ll increase production of their popular all-natural yogurt and expand their product line to include other prized local offerings, like pasteurized but non-homogenized whole milk, cream, and even more complex products like butter, chocolate milk and traditional Dutch vla.

2015 is going to be another amazing year for food and farming in Thunder Bay.  Stay tuned for our next posting, A Year’s Worth:  Makers and Bakers, later this week!  To submit your good news stories and Market tidbits please email weaver@thunderbaycountrymarket.com.

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