We bought the Farm

So, about two months ago, we woke up to a whole hullabaloo about the land we were on being for sale. We weren’t happy the news was out because it probably attracted more interest in the property. Frankly, it was a stressful distraction.

The silver lining was the firehose of community concern, interest, and support that ensued. Thanks again!

Two months later almost to the day, it happened again. Someone leaked information about the deal before we were prepared to share it. Now it’s done. So we’re going on record to tell our community in person what the nosy parkers have been poking at for the last two months.

We’re officially here to stay.

There are a few things we’d like our community to know:

First off, we define ‘community’ as the both the folks we impact and the ones we interact with. Neighbours, shoppers and fans sure, but also everyone in our value chain. The entrepreneurs on our shelves, the staffers who stock them, the foodies and the food justice advocates.

We’ve been overwhelmed and moved by your support. The comments that have been made to us and about us in person, print, and pixels have been an unexpected but highly appreciated validation of our efforts. You get us. You accept us. We’re so far from perfect, and we never expect our job to be easy, but it’s truly gratifying to see that people notice and care about our choices.

Next, we’ve got a lot of Joe’s at the store, and any of them will be glad to help you with whatever you need. But there’s one Joe in particular whose vision and heart have informed the choices that really set the bones of the place. 

Joe Virgona started with a simple idea and big heart–treat people like you’d like to be treated. Listen to their story. Understand where they’re coming from. And if you can figure out a way to help them get there that benefits everyone who needs to be involved, make it happen. Joe, his family, and the friendly staff you see in our aisles are grateful that we get to practice and model our values in a neighbourhood with a colourful history and dynamic future.

Finally, our tagline, “Food Matters”, really means something. It means that we understand that we play a role in a food system that affects people directly and in the aggregate. We don’t take our responsibility in that system lightly. At a time when five companies own most of the brands you find on grocery store shelves, exposing more people to healthier, locally grown, independently owned, and culturally appropriate options has never been more important.

It’s also never been more possible. A broader public has caught on to how important what we eat, where it comes from, and how it gets to them is. More people are making choices that reflect these insights. Again, we’re grateful for the chance to play our part.

Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can do better when we see you in person or online, over the next fifty years.

 

 



Preserving Summer’s Perfume: Pot-pourri.

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It’s getting near that time of year, alas, the beginnings of the end of summer. This is the season when food lovers and gardeners do our best to preserve summer’s bounty,  by making fragrant oils and tinctures of our favourite herbs, by canning jams and jellies and tomatoes and pickling cucumbers. And for those of us who love the perfumes of summer, preserving their lovely essence is as simple as making pot-pourri with herbs and flowers planted in our own gardens. Continue »



Bitter Melon: Ornamental Vine & Edible Fruit

Bitter melon vine, showing flower.

Bitter melon vine, showing flower.

I came across this beautiful vine covering a chain link fence recently. The fence itself was almost completely obscured, which is a good thing in my books. (Practical as they are, banishing chain link fences would be one of my first orders as Queen of the World)

The vine leaves themselves are exquisite, finely cut in a way that William Morris—the Arts & Craft designer who took his inspiration from nature—would have loved. The leaf veins, vines and tendrils add to the pleasing array of form. Not only is the vine good at beautifully camouflaging an ugly fence, but it has smallish yellow flowers with the sweetest jasmine fragrance—swoonworthy on a summer evening.

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D.O.P. is the Key to the Finest Italian Ingredients

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If you are looking for the finest ingredients for your next Mediterranean feast, you would do well to look for the little yellow label on many of the best foodstuffs imported from Italy. Continue »



Plant Profile: Gazania

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You’ve got a dry, hot spot that gets full sun all day. What to plant? A perfect choice for a sunny spot like this is the impossibly cheerful gazania. It’s a low-growing, drought-tolerant flowering annual that shines through in those challenging spots.

Many annuals—like the ever forgiving petunia and geranium—can be plunked anywhere and they’ll more or less cope. Shady spots make fewer flowers, but you’ll still have flowers. Not so with gazanias: they are picky and absolutely must have full sun to show their spectacular blooms. If they don’t have sun, they fold up their petals and sulk. (Yes, the petals actually close.) And why wouldn’t they? They’ve got pizzazz and they want to show it off.

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