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"Who knew the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook for dinner every single night for the rest of your life until you die."

I have been a wife for 17 years to date. A mother for 15. I've cooked thousands of dinners. For many years I resented having to come up with something every single night. It felt like prison. The monotony was crushing. I even made a Facebook group called "What's for Dinner?!" Yes, with the exclamation point too. I discovered through that group I wasn't the only one struggling to figure out what to prepare night after night. If the clock dipped past 4pm and I hadn't started my prep or at least have a direction, I could feel the cold sweat coming on, the rise in heart rate. Just gimme something easy and quick so I could move on with my life. Until the next day. You know how it goes. I'd purse my lips and squint my eyes glaringly at those bloggers who would fawn over their housewife role as meal maker. How they loved it. How they saw it as their God given privilege to feed their family, complete with pictures of smiling children and candle lit table settings and matching plates. Liars, I thought.

A large part of my conversion to happier homemaker (I say happier, cause let's face it, some days it's still a slog to get that dinner on the plate), has been using ingredients that I know where they came from. I can picture the person who grew that produce. I revisit the memory of picking up the meat right from that farmer. I've walked the lands and shaken the hands of the folks connected to the the food I am preparing right this moment. It makes me appreciate it so much more. It's personal now. I know in part, of the work that has gone into growing this food and I want to honor it and thereby honor them.

When you pick up food from the grocery store, it's like inviting a stranger for dinner. You don't know where they came from, how they were raised, how far they've traveled, what they've been sprayed with or when they were harvested. They are unknown, a mystery.

I have discovered when I cook or bake with food I know personally I am much more creative with it. It has sparked something within me and brought joy into my kitchen. My family can also taste the difference. My Pinterest searches have broadened from the 30-Minute meal to how to make gnocchi with parsnips or how to cook with lemon leaves. The food has become a canvas. I am an artist and creating has brought me great satisfaction. Knowing I am actually nourishing my family because I know my farmers has grounded me and given me confidence as a mother and wife.

Of course I don't often cook with 100% known food. That's a real winner meal when that does happen. I shop at the store and pick up my mystery guests and bring them home to introduce them to my known food. Y'all play nice now and be delicious m'kay?

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I used to think "the farm" was ubiquitous for wholesome, pure, good and healthy. Not so unfortunately.

The more documentaries I've watched, the more reading I've done, the more conversations I've had has stripped me of that facade. I won't say it hasn't jaded me a bit, made me a little cynical, because with knowledge comes responsibility to make the appropriate changes. I can't just buy any bag of produce labeled "farm fresh" and think I'm doing my bit anymore. I know better now.

One documentary that has played a huge role in opening my eyes and my mind to what farming really is, is called the Biggest, Little Farm. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's a wonderful mixture of harsh reality and intentionally grown optimism wrapped up in a very inspiring story.

Since I came to Local Harvest in spring 2021 I have learned so much about farming and "farming". I have learned about soil health, regenerative agriculture and a term called no-till. These phrases I have been vaguely aware of as their names suggests, but it wasn't until I really started to dig into the definition of each one did I discover why they are so important. This is why I am so passionate about bringing food from here to the North Shore. It's much more than local food.

Buying local is a good first step when choosing which onions or apples you're going to bring home. The emissions produced transporting fruits and veggies from around the globe to our grocery stores are staggering. We also want to support our local economy so it makes a lot of sense from that angle to chose local whenever possible.

When I came upon Local Harvest I discovered they offer a gardening course. There's a 10 minute video that elaborated on those particular terms. I was intrigued. I'd seen footage of the devastation of monocrop farming. Almonds, coconuts, raspberries etc. Mono meaning all of the diversity of life that was previously in that space was wiped out and one and only crop only was given permission to grow there. Beware the trends of "healthy eating" for they are costly to our planet and to our health.

Local Harvest uses a no till method of farming on their 25 acre property. Tilling disrupts the balance of life within the soil and releases the carbon contained within it. They seek to add to, not take away from, thus the soil food web is kept in tact with all the members of microbes, bacteria, worms, insects and fungi free to live and thrive bringing nutrients to the soil in which seeds will grow in. Seeds which are tended to without the use of any chemical sprays whatsoever, not even organic sprays. What grows on this particular farm is truly my ideal definition of the word. Wholesome. Pure. Good. Healthy.

When you know the farming practices of the farm where you buy your food you can eat with confidence knowing that what you're consuming was grown not only for the present season but with the future in mind. Regenerative farming. That "re" is very important as it represents a time not yet realized but one that is thought of and considered and planned for. The farm here

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Updated: May 3

Farmer Dan hauling an armload of chard

Buying local is generally seen as a hit to the pocket book that many people aren't convinced is worth those extra dollars. What's the difference after all right? A beet is a beet ain't it?

I've always been a big believer in buying local. I always will be.

When it comes time to buy a gift, I head to a little boutique before I go to the mall. If it's bath and body products I'm after, I check for a local business with quality, clean ingredients online. When I started to make switches to the way I shopped to feed my family, shopping local wasn't quite far enough for me. It's a good start, don't get me wrong. It's an excellent first step if you're weighing your options between that bag of onions from over the border, or the ones grown in BC. Choosing locally grown produce is an important choice to be aware of, if only for the emissions it takes to get the food to your basket.

But if you can, let's walk this road a little further shall we?

I started with eggs. I heard through the grapevine on Facebook of a lady who had a bunch of chickens in the Fraser Valley. I could get on her list to buy eggs direct from her. I pay seasonally and my whole amount of eggs is delivered to the North Shore once a month. I eventually was able to visit her farm and see with my own eyes the happy hens scratching and clucking out in the open air. Those were the chickens who would lay the eggs I would bake and cook with. This was the woman who cared for the hens. Having that connection to my food was like whetting my appetite for more.

Over the years I have bought meat such as pork, beef and chicken straight from the farmer. I almost always find my meat farmers on Craigslist. It's an easy and inexpensive way for a farmer to advertise what they have to offer. Plug in some key words like, "free range, black Angus, heritage" and you'll get something to work with. Fire off an email to the farmer. Ask questions and go from there. Being able to drive to the farm, shake the hand of the person who cared for, fed, and nurtured that very animal you're now buying to feed your family is a reward in itself.

Farmers are generally very friendly folk. Generous with their time and their experience, they want to give you as the customer a glimpse of their day to day and an assurance that the food you're buying is worthy of your time and of course, your money. I love being able to put my hard earned dollars into those hard working hands. No middle man, transport truck, plane or train involved. That's farmer direct.

Buying local is generally seen as a hit to the pocket book that many people aren't convinced is worth those extra dollars. What's the difference after all right? A beet is a beet ain't it? I used to pick up a pint of blueberries and a bunch of Romaine lettuce from the farmers market and think I was eating the best of the local best. I gave myself a nice little pat on the back for doing my local deed to boot, but I was about to get schooled about the importance of not just buying local, but knowing my farmer.

Along came a fella named Dan Ostenbrink. After coming across his website and watching the video about the Local Harvest Gardening Course I was drawn to the farm itself. On his farm at Local Harvest in Chilliwach, he uses zero sprays. Not even ones approved to use with organics. Not a fungicide will you see, nor any type of pesticide or fertilizer. The way Dan farms is to work harmoniously with nature. Regenerative agriculture. He has implemented a no-till method of farming so as to not disrupt the delicate soil food web in which he grows his food. Nothing goes to waste at Local Harvest. Instead of dumping unused food from the farm or the market, it gets turned into varying types of compost or fed to the pigs. Pigs make manure, which is also an import compost contributor. Nature is the teacher and he is, and continues to be, a studious observer to read how she responds to changes in weather, common pests, unwanted fungal growths and mildew that would threaten his crops.

For me, knowing my farmer, his farming practices, his drive to continue to care for his land is a very comforting place to sit as a consumer. It builds trust. Being able to take a bite into an apple grown at Local Harvest, is confidence. I have confidence that there aren't any unwanted chemicals on that produce. I trust that the soil food web was kept in tact while that particular produce was growing. The food speaks for itself that's been grown this way. The carrots are not only crunchy, they're fragrant. The herbs, robust and aromatic unlike their store bought counterparts. As I have brought Local Harvest food to people here on the North Shore, I hear time and time again how impressed they are with the quality. They taste the difference and are better nourished for buying this food grown so close to home. The food is harvested when it's ready, not when the market demands, this ensures I'm getting the most nutrient dense food available.

Knowing my farmer is another level of local I can taste. I'd like a second helping please.

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