I’m sitting outside while I write this blog. I’m bundled up and the air is brisk. I remind myself that it was only a few short weeks ago that I was on vacation in Hastings County and missing my Saturday visits to the Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market.
We were near the small town of Stirling and I hopefully ventured in to see if they had some fresh local bounty to sate my craving to talk to farmers and bring back some seasonal fare to my aunt’s cottage. They surprisingly did not have much to offer at the time so except for a stunning strawberry marmalade I sadly returned empty handed.
My aunt mentioned a farmer’s stall along the road nearby so we hopped in the car with a hope in our hearts that we would find what we so dearly sought. Lo and behold, we did.
We found a stall at the end of the farmer’s road and it felt like home. I planned our next meals based on the bountiful harvest stacked high and practically overflowing from the tables. When I asked if they had any basil the answer was “how much did I need” and then was led to a garden where it was picked straight from the herb plant itself. I was in heaven.
After a happy discussion about the recipes that would be made, plus some helpful hints from the farmer herself we waved a hearty goodbye and I thought to myself how grateful I am for farmers everywhere.
And for me it is one farm in particular that I will seek out tomorrow when I return to my favourite place on earth – our very own market. The beeline will be to the VanDenBroek Farms stall to talk to Frank and his daughter Amber and gleefully fill my bags with veggies galore.
Three generations have lived and farmed the land they live on. Founded in 1967 by Frank’s father Charles VanDenBroek, Frank starting farming with his Dad at the age of 16. His dream was to farm side by side with his Father to a ripe old age, but sadly Charles passed away too early. Frank took over the farm at the age of 26 and started a new dream. To farm with his children.
He has done that and now they all live by the philosophy of eating and living a healthy lifestyle and teaching people how to reengage with their food and support local farmers, knowing that they can trust where their food is coming from.
For the most part they don’t spray pesticides rather use a new product called Ocean-Tek, a fertilizer that is formulated with minerals that increase the nutrition value and enhances the taste of the produce they grow. It reduces the need for pesticides because it keeps the plant in good health and respond better to diseases.
They are also proud that their standard is to pick and pack the produce the day before the market. I really appreciate knowing all of this because I am assured of getting the freshest most nutritional and tasty produce.
I love having conversations with both Frank and Amber. They are so passionate about their farm and their product and helping people with their choices. You can see the smiles in their eyes as they talk about what they have to offer that day. And there might even be a joke or two along the way.
Amber will carry my bag as I circle the stand and she always knows how to answer my questions if I am unsure about what to do with a certain item, such as kale! Who knew kale could be so delicious!
The only person missing is Frank’s daughter Carling. She is continuing the family tradition of selling at farmers’ markets and can be found on Saturdays at the Waterdown Market. I miss Carling. My only consolation is her brother who is an absolute delight to have a verbal joust with. He is funny and smart and yes, sweet.
I can’t wait to see the harvest I will find tomorrow. I am sure I will learn something new, discover a new delicious vegetable I’ve never cooked with, and have a laugh or two as I see my friends again – the incomparable and delightful VanDenBroeks.
If fresh local produce from the season’s bountiful harvest is what you are looking for you will find it here at our friendly market with our family of vendors. We will be there every weekend along with the food you love, the growers you know, every Saturday from 8am to 1pm until the end of October.