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Five local, self-guided Circle Farm Tours celebrate the incredible products being grown and produced in our own backyard
Five local, self-guided Circle Farm Tours celebrate the incredible products being grown and produced in our own backyard – the lush and fertile Fraser Valley – and highlight the amazing farmers, growers and artisans who welcome visitors to tour their properties, experience their craft, and learn about their family-run business.
These educational experiences also allow visitors to learn more about the precious farmland where our food comes from.
Dine with the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour purveyors at a longtable harvest dinner
The Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour features over a dozen partners who transform this rich soil into wonderful edibles, like juicy blueberries, mouthwatering cheese, nutritious leafy greens and delicious honey.
Starting in Spring 2015, Brambles Bistro at Tanglebank Gardens, owned and operated by Arnold and Brenda Falk, will host a series of multi-course, longtable harvest dinners where guests can dine with a rotating cast of purveyors from the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour.
The dinners, prepared by Brambles’ very talented chef Sarah Kruk, will take place on the bistro’s sprawling covered terrace brimming with some of the perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees and grasses for sale at the boutique-style nursery.
Imagine sitting next to the farmer who lovingly grew the picked-that-day-fresh corn in your soup, or the beekeeper who painstakingly collected the honey to sweeten your dessert. No matter where you’re sitting, you’ll get to hear from every producer, as they each take their turn to stand up and talk a little bit about their business and the ingredients they’ve contributed to the dinner.
Click over to meet a few of the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour producers, who you can look forward to visiting at their farm shops and markets (check their respective websites for hours), or dining with at Brambles Bistro for a longtable harvest dinner (check their website for updates on the Spring 2015 menus).
At a preview dinner last month for the upcoming Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour longtable harvest dinners, I had the pleasure of sitting across from Mike Campbell, of Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery, and learning how he and his wife Judy decided to become beekeepers in their retirement – Mike was a high school teacher with a passionate bee-keeping hobby, and Judy was a prison warden with a fear of bees, who needed a little convincing.
During dinner, Judy joined Mike from the other end of the table, and the sweet couple held hands as they told us about their passion for bee education and their products – nearly 20 varieties of mead (honey wine) and dozens of varieties of honey, as well as beeswax, beeswax candles, beeswax ointments and tinctures, honey soaps, honeycomb, and more.
The Campbell’s also offer their bees’ services to local growers with their off-farm honeybee pollination program, and will begin a new series of honey labels this year featuring other partners in the Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour – like pumpkin honey from Lepp Farm and apple honey from Taves Family Farms.
Visit Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery at 2595 Lefeuvre Road in Abbotsford.
Head to bchoney.com or call 604-856-2125 for more information.
Lepp Farm Market owners (and high school sweethearts!) Rob and Charlotte Lepp grew up in Abbotsford’s farming community and became famous for their delicious corn when they started selling it off the back of a trailer in 1995.
Today, the Lepps grow a wide variety of fresh produce, and raise chickens and pigs, as well as cattle off-site at their ranch near Cache Creek and fruit at their orchard in the Okanagan. All of these products and many more from other local producers are available at the Lepp Farm Market, their on-site retail store.
I sat next to Charlotte during dinner and loved hearing how she’d just picked the incredibly delicious corn in our soup that morning, and delivered it to chef Kruk just hours before dinner was prepared.
Visit Lepp Farm Market at 33955 Clayburn Road in Abbotsford.
Head to leppfarmmarket.com or call 604-851-5377 for more information.
Cheesemaker Jason Dykstra opened Mt Lehman Cheese Co. at the start of this year, after years of experience working on his family goat farm, making cheese for their organic label, Goat’s Pride Dairy. Dykstra has expanded his repertoire with Mt Lehman Cheese Co., offering all kinds of soft and hard cheeses – like the “Gozzarella,” a mozzarella-style goat cheese – and even goat milk ice cream. Yes, you read that right.
Visit Mt Lehman Cheese Co. at 30854 Olund Road in Abbotsford.
Head to facebook.com/mtlehmancheeseco or call 604-854-6261 for more information.
Mt. Lehman Winery proprietor and winemaker Vern Siemens started his vineyard over 20 years ago, in 1991, when the Fraser Valley wine region – one of five designated viticultural areas in the province – was in its infancy. Today the winery boasts numerous awards for their nearly 20 varieties of whites and reds, and welcomes guests to their tasting room year-round. During the longtable harvest preview dinner, I sat next to Mt. Lehman Winery’s sales and marketing coordinator Kristal Barrett-Stuart, who brought wine pairings to accompany each of our four courses.
My favourite was the silky 2011 Pinot Noir Platinum Reserve, which was perfectly paired with a fall-apart-tender Taves Family Farms’ cider-braised pork shoulder from Lepp Farm, a twice-baked soufflé made with Mt Lehman Cheese Co.’s Blue Capri, and roast Russian garlic and Winter Luxury pumpkin from One Love Farm topped with a delicious piece of honeycomb from Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery. Seriously, this is the kind of decadence you can expect from an Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour longtable harvest dinner!
Visit Mt Lehman Winery at 5094 Mount Lehman Road in Abbotsford.
Head to mtlehmanwinery.com or call 604-746-2881 for more information.
Every few place settings along the longtable set for our harvest dinner were punctuated by splashes of colour in the form of exquisite flower arrangements from Chris and Becky of One Love Farm. The young couple, who are expecting their first child any day now, have a three-acre organic farm where they grow heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers, with love.
“In naming our farm ‘One Love’ we aim to acknowledge the universal and positive life force of love that can be found in one’s respectful connection with nature,” they say. “We believe that we, all living things – plants, animals and humans – are all connected.”
I’ve always believed that food made with love tastes better, and the Russian garlic and Winter Luxury pumpkin that Chris and Becky contributed to the dinner tasted really, really good.
Visit One Love Farm at 640-748 McCallum Road in Abbotsford.
Head to onelovefarm.wordpress.com for more information.
Tim and Flo Rempel are the lovely owners of Rockweld Farm, an organic, SPCA Certified chicken farm that produces meat and eggs to strict standards.
In addition to giving their birds certified organic feed, the Rempel’s have been part of the SPCA Certified food-labelling program for over 10 years, which certifies member farms according to the Five Freedoms of animal welfare:
Visit Rockweld Farm at 34205 Townshipline Road in Abbotsford.Head to rockweldfarm.com or call 604-859-1199 for more information.