It’s Monday morning at 7:30 am and there is a group of chefs and restaurant people milling about in the Southcentre Mall parking lot. Many of the group are yawning and carrying extra large coffees. It takes a lot to get most chefs out of bed this early, but this Monday is worth the early rise. It’s the day of the Galimax Farm Tour, a day where the chefs can connect the dots between the meals they cook and where their ingredients come from.
Galimax Shop/ Breakfast
The first stop is the Galimax Shop where Mans Free Range Eggs are checked and graded. We are met with a breakfast of eggs (obvs), pancakes, bacon, and coffee, all dished out by smiling volunteers. Mans Free Range Eggs come from hens that are raised in Southern Alberta and cared for by local kids. They are fed a diet of ground peas, wheat, and alfalfa and are free to go inside or outside as they choose.
Vital Greens Dairy
The Vital Greens Dairy cows are grass fed and allowed to roam freely. I never thought I would say this about a cow, but these are some beautiful bovines. Vital Greens stresses the importance of balanced feed for the cows, there is even a cow nutritionist on-staff. Vital Greens does not homogenize their milk, leaving that delicious creamy layer on top and ensuring all of the nutrients remain intact.
Leffers Brothers Organic Carrot and Beet Farm
At Leffers, attendees are invited to pluck a carrot right from the ground, give it a wash and eat it. There is nothing better than eating a freshly picked carrot, but full disclosure: I was so distracted by the baby cows at Vital Greens that I missed the bus and this part of the tour.
Mans Organic Greenhouses/ Lunch
At Mans they grow peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants in their greenhouse. Unlike many greenhouses, Mans uses soil instead of a hydroponic process to grow their veggies. Outside they have fields of watermelon, onions and garlic.
Growing completely organic can be a challenge, and one of the things that Mans has to worry about in their greenhouse is the persistence of tiny aphids (plant lice) which can devastate a plant population. When noxious weeds are properly contained they can provide a home to bugs that would otherwise defeat the destructive aphids.
At Mans, there was a hearty spread served up by The Cookbook Co. featuring Garlic Scape potatoes, Kohlrabi in yogurt sauce, Greens with Local Tomatoes + Chèvre, and some duck breast and chorizo.
Fairwinds Organic Goat Dairy
By the time the group was Fairwinds-bound, the vibe on the bus was sleepy and many naps were taken. However, naps were cut short when two bouncy teenage goats greeted the bus with a cheer enthusiastic enough to rouse the sleepiest chef. Fairwinds has made their mark by selling organic goat yogurt, milk, and cheese to stores around Alberta. The goats are milked twice daily in the summer and are free to roam around and eat hay the rest of the time. In the winter they still have access to pasture but can go inside whenever they want. The goat dairy was our last stop for the day, and most of the attendees were happy to end a great day by fawning over an adorable baby goat.