Archive for the ‘Riverbend Gardens’ Category

Episode 58 – Veg Glean


This one was a year in the works. Way back when, while shooting Episode 23 at Riverbend Gardens, I was enlightened to the situation that is common at vegetable farms in the fall: harvests fill up storage capacity, labour is relieved for the season, and anything left in the ground becomes compost-in-place. Sensible, really. Wouldn’t make sense to try to anticipate the storage capacity and shoot for it, as the first lean growing season would teach you that’s a really bad business plan. So surplus is normal.

At the time, I’d just been introduced to veg gleaning, as a farmer had called the Food Bank asking if they wanted a 1/4 acre of vegetables he had in the ground. The Food Bank, unresourced to go get it, put him onto Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton - who have people swinging on the front lines all fall rescuing fruit of all types. So OFRE put a crew together to harvest it. And win-win-win happened.

So having made arrangements for this one last year, I was awaiting the call from Riverbend Gardens, who had a year earlier generously offered their surplus to charity if OFRE could come get it. The text msg arrived on my phone. I lined up a Salvation Army truck to pick up the charity’s share. And win-win-win happened.

Farm-to-Table w/ RGE RD & Riverbend Gardens


The last farm-to-table dinner I attended was a resounding success, and I’m not surprised Blair and his crew have done a few of these since then. By happenstance we ran into each other at the farmers’ market a couple weeks ago and I ended up involved with his upcoming dinner at Riverbend Gardens. He ended up buying the last half of the 3 pigs we cut on Pig Day for the event, came over to butcher it, and also wanted to include some rescued fruit in his dessert so I ended up supplying some urban-fruit-rescued apples and evans cherries harvested by myself and Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton volunteers. I offered to give Blair a hand, shoot some video and such, cause, well, it’s just a lovely kind of thing to be involved with, really.

It was a 6 course wine-paired menu based on winter-veg from Riverbend Gardens, and pork and beef from Nature’s Green Acres. Plus 3 hors d’oeurvres. Pretty impressive menu, really, and glad it was he and not I in charge of making it happen for the 25 or so guests. It was a well-conceived and well-executed festival of winter squashes, pork, local cheese, kales, cabbages, brussel sprouts, cauliflowers, beef, potatoes, urban fruit, live music, and local and Okanagan wines. I was lucky enough to be offered a spare seat at the huge table, and between shooting video of the courses as they were plated, got to eat the food and be a guest. Thanks to Blair and the RGE RD crew for that, and for becoming such fantastic advocates and supporters of our local food producers, and for cooking with fire. It matters. Enjoy the video.

From Local Farms – Riverbend Gardens


I wasn’t sure what to expect when driving up to Riverbend Gardens, whose farm is actually within Edmonton city limits, but it certainly wasn’t this: a young 3rd generation farming couple just in the middle of having a family struggling to find time to fight to stay on the land their family’s farmed for half a century. Juggling pregnancy, a couple toddlers, a large staff, farmer’s markets nearly daily, a whole pile of different vegetables and plants at various stages of growth, succession planning, and getting politically involved to protect their land against development cannot be an easy task. And the deer want to eat their crops. They have to hire a couple people to stand watch through the night while transplants size up, or the deer will put them out of business. Perhaps to drive the point home for my visit, mother nature knocked out their power, just for good measure.

One perk of taking on an established farm is they currently plant only half the land for the year, letting the other half rest. With the cost of land around the city in the millions/quarter, I’m assuming that’s generally not economically feasible. Producing food locally can be both a blessing and a curse, and it’s never been more evident to me than here.