Living Cuisine – Fresh and Local: A taste of the extraordinary at the Lethbridge Farmers’ Market

It’s Saturday morning. You wake up early, get dressed and head out. You want to beat the traffic and find a good parking stall after all. You pull up to Exhibition Park and see all the excited people eager to get in to buy some fresh vegetables, go for a wander around, or even just to experience some local cuisine. I am of course talking about the Farmers’ Market. This popular event is always a big deal for our ever-growing city. Because of this, and many more reasons, we decided to spend this issue of Lethbridge Living Cuisine at the Farmers’ Market, talking to a handful of the vendors with some tasty goods.

The Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday at Exhibition Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. until October 26.

Luco Farms

Luco Farms is a family-owned artisan mustard company. The father and son team of Robert and Ben Luco pride themselves on running a locally grown, created and canned mustard venture, that’s not only unique to Lethbridge, but one of very few Southern Alberta mustard companies. “We make processed mustards in six different varieties,” says Robert. “We do this by using three different mustard seeds: yellow, brown, and oriental. Our products are all pure, fresh, and gluten free.”  They’ve been making mustard products since 2012 but have been growing mustard on their farm since 1964. “It’s up to the standard of Taber corn, it’s just sweeter than anything that’s out there,” says Robert. Not only are they unique for having this local Alberta mustard but they have also invented an extremely unique process for how it is canned. “Most mustards that you buy on the shelf aren’t (vacuum) sealed, they are safety sealed. But mustard does not go bad; it has an antimicrobial in it. But Ben and I thought that it was nice to hear that pop, then you know it is fresh.” With regular seals you need to heat up the jar to create the tight seal. Unfortunately, mustard does lose its taste when this happens, but the duo invented a new vacuum sealing process that ensures that doesn’t happen. Robert and Ben are always looking to educate people on their mustards and love to share their passion with the public.

If you are interested in their product check them out at www.lucofarms.com, or see them at the Farmers’ Market until the end of the season.

 

Rose Creek Ranch

Rose Creek Ranch is run by Jesse Newman out of Pincher Creek. Jesse has been running Rose Creek Ranch for the past 11 years and attending the Lethbridge Farmers’ Market for 10 of those years. “I make fresh sausage, smoked jerky sticks, as well as perogies,” he says. And we here at Lethbridge Living can’t get enough of them. When I asked Jesse what he thinks is unique about his product, he was eager to explain that all his products are made by hand using fresh ingredients in small batches to create a unique and fresh flavour. He also encourages everyone to come check out the Farmers’ Market when they get the chance. “It’s me who makes it and it’s also me who is selling it. It’s a chance for customers to actually talk to the person who is making it and selling. It’s a real experience.” If you haven’t had the chance to try their products yet, Jesse and Rose Creek Ranch will be at the Farmers’ Market for the remainder of the season.

For more information, check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Rose-Creek-Ranch-237274826452894/

 

 

Carmen’s Coconut Oil Salad Dressings

Ron Miller is the local man behind these lovely dressings. He currently offers 25 dressings and is always expanding to new flavours. His product is very different from most other vinaigrettes because he uses coconut oil. “I am the only one who does this,” says Ron. “There are other people who sell vinaigrettes, but none use coconut oil, and coconut oil is extremely healthy.” Some of his flavours include lemon roasted garlic, lemon strawberry, red Thai chili, and strawberry basil. No matter what your flavour pallet craves, he has a flavour that will quench it. Throughout the course of our interview, Ron had a significant number of people eager to pick up some dressing. Carmen’s Coconut Oil Salad Dressings will be at the Farmers’ Market for the rest of the season so be sure to check him out.

Crystal Springs Cheese

Crystal Springs Cheese is a family run business and has been around for the past 15 years now making cheeses and yogurts on their Coalhurst farm. I met up with Amanda Beijer who is married into the Beyer family. “They started with just feta and then they started with gouda for Farmers’ Markets,” she explains. “They try to compare the goudas to the real Dutch goudas from the Netherlands.” They have continued to expand their flavours and cheese options over time, as they’ve received some unique requests. From five flavours of fresh cheese curds made every Thursday (including Dill Pickle!) to various herbs, spices or smoke added to cheddar, gouda, Havarti or feta, there’s something for everyone. “It’s just all family run from start to finish. From crop production, to feeding the cows, to milking the cows, to making the cheese. So that is a big part of it. My husband is also a very picky farmer. I grew up on a dairy farm as well and the way he farms is very different.” They have been at the Farmers’ Market for over five years now and attend the Millarville market. They will be attending both markets for the rest of the season, so keep your eyes open for them. Believe me they are worth it.

To contact them or for more information, visit their website at www.crystalspringscheese.com


What are Microgreens? Why Should You Care?

Microgreens are seedlings grown from edible vegetables and herbs, essentially meaning they are “baby” plants. These microgreens are larger than sprouts but are still smaller than a baby green. Microgreens are often seen on dishes in most fine dining restaurants. Lately they’ve been making quite the kick because of their intense flavours and extraordinary nutritional values. People have realized this and started introducing them into more meals and even smoothies!

 

All Good Microgreens Inc.

All Good Microgreens Inc. is run by Corey and Pam Prangnell. I met with Corey to talk about his company and the lovely little greens that make it happen. Corey explained that his company is based here in Lethbridge, having a room set up in his west side home. “I have been experimenting with it since probably just before Christmas,” he says. “(Since) mid-February, I’ve been providing microgreens to some of the restaurants and have been working on expanding that.” All Good Microgreens provides around 15 different microgreens some of which include arugula, beets, broccoli, salad blends, and three different types of peas. “I usually go right to shoots and stay away from sprouting because it carries a higher health risk,” he says. They also provide a unique take on microgreens with dehydrated and powdered options. “I am running around seven different varieties now,” says Corey. “You can use them in smoothies, soups, any sauces. I create a spicy blend and a milder blend.” Corey was very excited to explain that he is currently the only one in the market right now creating dehydrated/powdered microgreens and as a result, there is quite the demand for it. Not only do they deliver to restaurants, but they have been implementing a delivery system to customers as well. “If anyone orders greens from me, they can actually call and get it at their door. I deliver to the restaurants twice a week so that’s when I can deliver to the locals as well.” Check out All Good Microgreens at the Farmers’ Market for the rest of the season and maybe even at some of the specialty markets throughout the year.   

If you are interested in learning more about All Good Microgreens Inc. check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/allgoodmicrogreens/posts/

 

B Microgreens

Mary Blanco runs B Microgreens, another micro greenery here in Lethbridge. Mary has been running her company out of her home since November. Starting as a hobby, this nurse was very excited to tell me how passionate she is about her company and being able to provide people with healthy food alternatives.

“I work in the hospital, so I see a lot of sick people. When I was starting this microgreen business, I did my research and discovered that they are extremely healthy. I thought if I can convert at least one person to eating microgreens once a day, well it would be my advocacy,” she says. Mary is very passionate about putting her love and care into the microgreens she grows, while still treating it as a business. “It’s a small company so it’s more personalized. I am really hands-on. I do all of it - I water them, I take care of them, sometimes I talk to them. It’s 100 per cent effort. That’s every business, but I take extra care with them.” She started selling her microgreens to her colleagues at the hospital and upon further research discovered the Farmers’ Market. “I really enjoy it; we are meeting a lot of people. The other vendors are so nice too. They are very approachable; it’s a very happy environment and it just gives you positivity. And it is really fun being able to educate people as well. A lot of people don’t know about microgreens.” B Microgreens is at the Farmers’ Market three times a month for the remainder of the season so keep your eyes open.

If you are interested in getting in touch with B Microgreens, check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/BMicrogreens/
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