Three Holiday Appetizers from Abbotsford Farms

This season, preparing a gorgeous, delicious, and local holiday appetizer or hostess gift doesn’t have to break the bank and is easier than you think! Here are three amazing appetizer suggestions from local Abbotsford farms. 

Rockweld Farm

BCSPCA certified organic chicken farmers Tim and Flo Rempel sell eggs and chicken (whole or pierced) from their farm store on Townshipline Road. Located at 34205 Townshipline Road. Open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings (click for recipe)

Ingredients
• Rockweld Farm chicken wings
• 2 parts teriyaki sauce
• 1 part barbeque sauce

 

Lepp Farm Market

Specializing in pork, the family-run farm launched as a corn stand in 1995. In 2009 they opened their year-round farm market at the corner of Highway 11 and Clayburn Road. Located at 33955 Clayburn Road, open seven days a week 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Smoked Chorizo paired perfectly with Abbotsford’s Campbell’s Gold Honey, this spicy, sweet, and highly addictive dish is great for taking to any Holiday party.

Lepp's Honey Wine Chorizo (click for recipe) 

Ingredients
• 2 Lepp’s Chorizo Sausage
• ½ cup white wine
• 3 tablespoons Campbell’s Gold Honey

 

Mt.Lehman Cheese Co.

The Dykstra family aims to provide high quality, hand-crafted cheese using fresh milk from local farms with as few other ingredients as possible. Located at 30854 Olund Road. Products are available at 37 retailers including Lepp Farm Market and Nature’s Fare.

Goat Cheese and Goji Berry Wrap (click for recipe)

Ingredients
• Mt. Lehman Cheese garlic and herb chevre
• Mt. Lehman Cheese Matsqui aged cheddar
• Gojoy Fresh goji berries
• Sundried tomato soft tortilla shell
• 1 chicken breast

All three of these farms are part of Abbotsford's Circle Farm Tour.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Come Try Something New at Singletree Winery

At the north end of Mount Lehman Road sits 12 acres of vineyards on rolling hills, grown by the Etsell family. Since 2005 the farming family has planned to use part of their 65 acres for vineyards and in June 2015 their tasting room opened to the public as Singletree Winery.

General manager and viticulturist Andrew Etsell said he wants people to feel comfortable when they visit.

“The wine industry can be intimidating,” he said. “We’re an easygoing farming family—you’ll be treated the same if you wear flip-flops or if you’re dressed for high tea.”

Current releases include a 2013 Farmhand White, a 2013 Pinot Noir, and a 2014 Sauvignon Blanc.

Their winery name is inspired by the pioneering farming tool, the singletree. It’s a single harness yolk, which allowed horses to clear land for farming in the late 1800s. The Etsell family is proud to carry on the tradition of working the land. In fact, their first 3,600 vines were hand planted!

The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12-5:30 p.m. Visitors are invited to bring a picnic, pick up a bottle of wine, and enjoy the beautiful view of Mount Baker. Singletree wines are also available at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market and several local restaurants.

“We’re a regular Abbotsford family farm who really enjoys wine and decided to open a winery,” Etsell said. “Come and try something new!”

Singletree Winery, located at 5782 Mount Lehman Road, is a featured partner of the Abbotsford Specialty Beer and Wine Tour.

This map is your guide for hyperlocal, unique experiences while visiting Abbotsford. It showcases the developing industry of craft breweries and wineries opening throughout the city. Download a PDF copy or pick one up at any Abbotsford craft brewery or winery.


Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city. 1st Photo credit - Christine McAvoy. 

Ravens Brewing Company is Inspired by Abbotsford

Ravens Brewing Company may be one of the newest businesses in Abbotsford, but they’ve got no shortage of customers. The busy tasting room has been showcasing unique, handcrafted beer since June 2015 and is only growing.

Owner Paul Sweeting has created a range of core beers to please for everyone from the first-timer with their signature Golden Ale, to the craft beer savant with their Farmers Ale saison. Sweeting wants people who visit the brewery to experience something new every time they visit.

“Everyone’s tastes are their own. You don’t have to like our beer—but we hope you do,” he said.

On top of their core brews, Ravens Brewing Company offers seasonal ales. Right now they have a white IPA and a raspberry hefeweizen. The 450 pounds of raspberries in the hefeweizen travelled three kilometres from picking to brewing—an extreme local beer for enthusiasts.

Working with local growers and businesses is a focus for Ravens Brewing Company. Inspired by the agricultural roots surrounding the Abbotsford area, they aim to create great beers full of character and style in a friendly and welcoming environment.

The tasting room is open daily from noon and you’re invited to bring your lunch and enjoy a flight at the long log table while making new friends.

One unique element of the craft brewing industry is growler fills. A grower is a refillable glass jug, which you can fill at any craft brewery.

In British Columbia the craft brewing industry is thriving, with three new breweries opening in Abbotsford alone this year. Editor Stephen Smysnuik noticed this trend and decided to launch The Growler Craft Beer Handbook, which curates breweries across the lower mainland.

“I thought, man there’s a lot happening here. Someone should really put a publication together to keep stock of this.”

Smysnuik said The Growler reflects the industry as much as possible and aims to provide a comprehensive look at the growing craft beer industry in B.C.

Current issues are available at local breweries, including Ravens Brewing Company, and back issues can be ordered from thegrowler.ca

Ravens Brewing Company, located in at 2485 Townline Road, is a featured partner of the Abbotsford Specialty Beer and Wine Map.

This map is your guide for hyperlocal, unique experiences while visiting Abbotsford. It showcases the developing industry of craft breweries and wineries opening throughout the city. Download a PDF copy or pick one up at any Abbotsford craft brewery or winery.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Family-Friendly Abbotsford Agrifair is Ready to Entertain this Summer

This August long weekend there’s something for everyone at the annual Abbotsford Agrifair and Mighty Fraser Rodeo.

“With a wide variety of activities, every day is a different show,” said Agrifair general manager Pamela Brenner.

Last year’s event saw 33,000 visitors to the Agrifair. This year they’re expecting up to 50,000 visitors and have added an entire extra day of entertainment and activities.

Aside from the professional rodeo, featuring fan-favourite events like steer wrestling, bull riding, and barrel racing, the annual Valley Voices Vocal Competition is sure to impress fair visitors. Finals begin Friday where 15 young artists compete for the grand prize, a chance to record a single at a professional recording studio.

The community and main stages will be loaded with musical entertainment all weekend and features a battle of the bands on Friday and Saturday. Sunday evening hosts Grammy-award winner Laura Story who will perform songs from her new album God of Every Story, including her hit single Til I Met You.

The four day event runs Friday July 31 through Monday August 3 and is bringing back the professional rodeo, 4-H livestock show and competition, live entertainment and contests, Midway, food trucks, demolition derby, and agricultural displays and demonstrations.

For the expanded 2015 fair expect to see many new additions including midget wrestling, the return of popular West Coast Lumberjacks, mini chuckwagon races, and visits from Richard’s Racers, Chef Pamela E and Kids Kitchen, and the Reptile Guy.

Four-day fair weekend passes are $15 per person and children 10 and under are free. Visit agrifair.ca for detailed information.

From now until July 20 like Agrifair on Facebook for your chance to win prizes from their ESCAPE to Agrifair contest. The grand prize will be an ultimate fair experience, including four weekend wristbands, two all-day parking passes, four one-day Midway ride passes, customized LEGO prizes, and a chance to be part of the Country Horse Classic horse-pulling team. All you have to do is watch for “the location of the ESCAPE,” and answer the question. Each correct answer is an entry to the contest.

All photos are courtesy of Abbotsford Agrifair and Mighty Fraser Rodeo.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Learn About Good Bugs, Bad Bugs and Daffodils at the 2015 Bradner Flower Show

It was springtime when English horticulturist Fenwick Fatkin noticed a daffodil field out the window while riding a train through Bradner. Thinking the soil must be good he bought land, ordered some bulbs and moved his family out.

This was the beginning of the Bradner Flower Show, now in its 87th year. The 2015 show runs from April 10-12, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Featuring more than 400 varieties of daffodils, Fatkin’s granddaughter and co-organizer Pauline Isherwood said visitors should expect to be blown away by how many flowers there will be at Bradner Hall and elementary school this year.

“The thing I like about daffodils is that when I see them I know spring is here. That’s spring.” Isherwood and her 90-year-old father plan to run their family table at the event.

Themed “the good, the bad, and the bug-ily,” this year’s guest speaker entomologist Jim Matteoni opens the show on Friday and will answer gardening questions in the Speaker’s Corner. Other featured speakers are Chris Bodnar of Glen Valley Organic Farm, Bert the Mole Man, and Mason bee expert Jim Sadowski.

“This is a good time to come out and find some new and interesting items for your garden,” said co-organizer Lynda Richard, who has planned the show for the past five years. “There’s lots more than daffodils, but of course the daffodils are the star of the show.”

Over the weekend, plant wholesalers and craft vendors will display unique product for those eager to get planting.

For those not gardening this year, there’s plenty to see and do for all ages. With musical performances, cooking demonstrations, taxidermy displays, wine tasting and much more, this is sure to be a fun-filled, educational event.

The Bradner Flower Show begins April 10 at 5305 Bradner Road. The volunteer-run event costs $2 at the door with free parking at the elementary school and along the roadside. There will be a tea room selling homemade soups, sandwiches and desserts all weekend and barbequed food available on Saturday and Sunday.

Visit Facebook.com/bradnerhall for more details.

Photos are courtesy of the Reach Gallery.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Outdoor Activities for Brisk Autumn Days

If the brisk autumn weather makes you crave the outdoors, there are some lovely and local farm stops you have to make before the season ends.

Taves Family Farm - Applebarn

Just north of the border on Gladwin road is the sprawling Taves Family Farm, also known as Applebarn. A popular destination for artisan food lovers and families alike, there is something for everyone at this stop on the Circle Farm Tour.

Owner Loren Taves showed me around his farm, explaining how they continue to grow each year, adding attractions like a petting zoo, a corn maze, hayrides, jumping pillows, and a zip line. Catering to the under 12 crowd, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy all day long.

But before you forget, Applebarn is still a working farm. With acres of greenhouses, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and a country store, you can find fresh-grown apples, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins, squash and more along with homemade honey and cider.

Your armband is all you need to access all the activities on-site but if a quick trip is all you’re interested in you can also visit Applebarn at the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market.

Abbotsford Farm & Country Marke

Until Christmas, Saturdays from 9-1, at the end of Montrose Avenue off George Ferguson Way becomes the Abbotsford Farm & Country Market.

Market manager Bruce Fatkin told me one of their unique features is when you speak to a vendor, you’re talking to a person directly involved in creating the product you’re purchasing.

The Abbotsford market carries a variety of fruit, vegetables, jams, baked goods, soaps, jewelry, and more, all from local vendors selling in season. If you’re looking for organic, local, artisan products at competitive prices make sure to visit the market.

Bruce said one difference between farm markets and grocery stores are the amounts you buy. At a market you tend to purchase what you’ll consume in a week whereas at larger stores your tendency is to purchase food in bulk.

Watch the market website for the addition of local wine, beer, and spirit sales, expected to join the vendor list in the coming weeks.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Two More Reasons to Stay in Abbotsford

By Robyn Roste a friend of Mrs. Abbotsford

Although most of the stops on the Circle Farm Tour are most active in summer, some are busy year round. Both my stops this week are perfect examples of this.

Mt Lehman Winery

Travelling south on Mt. Lehman road I discovered the award-winning Mt. Lehman Winery.

My first stop was the tasting room, which displays a variety of house wines including the boutique winery’s flagship Pinot Noir.

Owner and winemaker Vern Siemens gave me a walking tour, noting everything from the grape growing, fermenting, crushing and pressing happens on site. This makes the winery the perfect place to see winemaking in progress, since there is always something happening.

The property, which visitors are encouraged to explore, has 15 acres of vineyards. Vern said they’ve planted more than 58 varieties of grapes since 1991 and are getting closer to discovering which grapes grow best.

Winemaking for Vern is a labour of love. He wants to make products he’s proud of—and for his wines to achieve drinkability.

Restaurant 62

Just off the freeway on McCallum road sits Restaurant 62, the popular birthday and anniversary destination known for its fine dining. Breaking from the traditional farm, I was curious to discover why a restaurant is part of the Circle Farm Tour.

Co-owner Alicia Bodaly walked me through their menu, rounded out with ingredients from local food producers. For the past 10 years the restaurant has demonstrated a commitment to local and organic food.

Using local produce means their menu needs to adjust for seasonal fruits and vegetables. Alicia and co-owner chef Jeff Massey create new menus every few months, ensuring their dishes are in season, top quality and tasty. But their food is not the only liquid feature—as the menu changes their by-the-glass wine list, many from local producers, also adjusts to highlight the best pairings for their dishes.

Their current menu features a Yarrow Meadows duck breast with sour cherries (from Alicia’s parent’s orchard). The classic pairing? A 2011 Mt. Lehman Reserve Pinot Noir.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

From Farm to Market to Fork

by Robyn Roste

Farming is woven into the fabric of this community from east to west, north to south, and back again. This week the Circle Farm Tour took me from one side of town to the other.

Char

Just off the Abbotsford-Mission Highway sits Lepp Farm Market. I arrived as it opened for the day, already bustling with shoppers coming for groceries, breakfast, and morning coffee.

The farm, best known for its homegrown pork and chicken, has market butchers to ensure top-quality meat. Co-owner Charlotte Lepp gave me a glimpse behind the cooler door to see how their meat is processed.

Charlotte explained their farm philosophy is centred on cooking good food and sharing it with people you love, which is why they post recipes and blogs on their website and host cooking classes with celebrity chefs.

They stock the ingredients you need to cook dinner. Their products must meet strict criteria—would Char serve it on her dinner table? If the product is local, top quality, and beautiful, you will find it at Lepp Farm Market.

Right now apples, squash, and all sorts of gourds and pumpkins fill the white tents outside the market, with many more pumpkins ripening in the field behind.

Camplbells Gold

Nearing Aldergrove off Lefeuvre Road is Cambell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery. This is extraction season for the busy beekeepers but co-owners Mike and Judy Campbell took the time to show me the heart of their farm (the hives) and their business (the honey).

I was instructed to stay calm as I approached the bees, which I suppose was as much for the bees’ protection as for my own safety. Watching honey bees work is fascinating—they extract moisture from the nectar while adding enzymes to create honey.

Judy then took me to watch an extraction where I learned more about honey and the Campbell’s Gold country market, which carries honey and hive-related products. The mead and honey wine display is especially enticing.

The back of the red barn is filled to the brim with holding tanks filtering uncapped honey and fermenting fruit for wine. The back vineyards are producing pears, apples, elderberries, grapes, currants, blueberries, and raspberries.

EcoDairy

Towards the Sumas border crossing lies the Bakerview EcoDairy, home to mascot Vicki the Cow. I arrived as an afternoon strike camp commenced in the upstairs play area.

In partnership with Science World, the 80-acre demonstration dairy farm caters to elementary-aged children with a mind to help them discover the technology behind where their food comes from. The interactive displays allow you to milk a cow, see a cow’s digestive system, and learn about manure.
The dairy also boasts a robotic milking machine where cows practice voluntary milking. I lingered here, watching the cows line up for milking. Lucy Johannsohn, the marketing manager, told me the machine tests the milk for bacteria, quality, and more. If it doesn’t meet their standards, it is kept separate.

When you visit the EcoDairy you can tour the dairy, visit the petting zoo featuring goats on the roof, calves, turkeys and pigs, and spend time on the picnic grounds.

Adventures on Sumas Prairie

By: Robyn Roste – a friend of Mrs. Abbotsford

As I studied the Circle Farm Tour map I noticed although the self-guided tour is spread well across the city, the farms seem to be grouped in threes. I decided visiting farms in groups of three would be an easy and fun way to explore my city.

Granny & Grumpa's Antiques

I started at the beginning. In this case, Granny and Grumpa’s Antiques located on Sumas Prairie.

Turns out this impressive collection housed in the heart of the Fraser Valley is only 13 kilometres out of central Abbotsford. And even if I hadn’t seen the giant sign from the road I could have followed the traffic. It seems everyone else had the same idea as me.

I had no idea what to expect, but after the initial shock of how huge this place is (multiple barns, filled with every antique you can imagine) I wondered what treasure was hidden within for me. Wandering from barn to barn I scanned thousands of items like wheelchairs, a room of dolls, and a wall of 2,300 different pop bottles.

Upon exiting Grumpa stopped to make sure I enjoyed my visit. We chatted for a bit until another visitor approached, looking to barter. Grumpa waved me off as he engaged in the lively banter.

Birchwood Dairy

Five minutes down the road was my next stop, Birchwood Dairy.

This thriving family-run dairy farm operates a country store and wholesale business. The scale of their operation, which includes milk, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese, means they use every drop of milk their farm produces plus some to help meet the demand for their produce.

Kayla, the store supervisor, toured me around the operation pointing out all the areas the farm has open to the public, including a viewing room into the milking parlour where cows come at 3 p.m. every day.

Behind the store and silos is the maternity barn, where visitors can see cows a few weeks out from giving birth, and calves who aren’t quite ready to join the rest of the herd.

After my tour I ventured back to the maternity barn for a little more visiting with the calves. If they didn’t keep trying to lick me I may have stayed longer. Also I had a sudden craving for ice cream.

FV Trout Hatchery

Turning towards town I drove another five minutes to the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery.

I arrived as one of the many Learn to Fish programs commenced. I watched the children tear around the education centre exclaiming at the different fish before gathering in the amphitheatre.

Sport Fishing Development Co-ordinator Mike Gaas and Outreach Co-ordinator Tanya Laird showed me some of the 40-acre property from the fry troughs and stocked ponds to the complete pool renovation to help the hatchery operate with greater energy efficiency.  

The goal of the non-profit organization is to create ethically responsible anglers while helping people connect with and appreciate the outdoors. Their Learn to Fish program is the main way they educate future anglers, but their self-guided tour is also educational.

This hatchery is the hub in BC, responsible for raising more than 2.5 million trout and stocking a couple hundred lakes each year. They depend on partnerships with the province, BC Hydro, and corporate sponsors.

These three stops were a great way to start my tour!

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.

Maan Farms Rebuilding Bigger & Better

By Robyn Roste (a friend of Mrs. Abbotsford)

Goat
Just like everyone else in Abbotsford, on July 14 I was shocked at the news of the fire at Maan Farms. Feeling helpless but wanting to do something I ventured out to the farm armed with my sunscreen, notepad, and camera.

I expected the mood to be sombre—or at the very least a bit sad—so was surprised to see a bustling farm stand and cheerful faces upon arriving. Owner Devinder Maan proceeded to list the many exciting projects the farm is re-launching August 1, such as birthday parties, wagon tours, and the petting zoo. 

Although the fire was unexpected and heart breaking, the family is taking the opportunity to focus on the positives.

As we stood chatting, Devinder’s son Amir arrived from their strawberry fields and toured me around the five acre Wizard Of Oz inspired corn maze also set to open August 1.

Corn Maze

Walking through the nine-foot stalks I was struck by how thick the corn was. As we ventured deeper, Amir described the six-month process of building the maze. This includes choosing the right seeds, using a two-row planting system (for density), designing the maze, and uprooting stalks when they’re knee-high to create pathways. 

I had no idea. Before this moment I imagined people created corn mazes on a whim by cutting through with giant scythes, which isn’t realistic I know but this is how urban I am.

This is not the farm’s only corn maze. Kitty-corner to the Wizard of Oz maze sits a 10-acre cornfield, which will become a haunted corn maze come autumn. I can’t imagine going into one of these places at night, let alone a haunted one. I looked around in case there was someone hiding in the corn but it was too thick to tell for sure.

Amir, who is completing his bachelor of business administration for agricultural management at UFV, said his family’s farming philosophy is “experience tourism.” He explained they want everyone who visits the farm to have a country experience. I suppose they meet a lot of neighbours like me.

Burnt Barn

Thirty minutes later we emerged from the maze where I saw a pumpkin patch, a strawberry field, and the remains of the Maan Farms barn.

Amir said the life of a is farmer unpredictable, competitive, and different every day. To succeed you must be a jack of all trades, a creative problem solver, and able to manage crises. But the fire. This had to be so much worse. 

“The fire was unexpected and devastating to my family, but it was just another day.” As Amir spoke his face was resolute. “We will rebuild bigger and better—with a new twist.”

The Wizard of Oz inspired corn maze will feature games, educational posts, and family-friendly fun. The $7 admission includes corn maze, children’s play area, and petting zoo. 

Maan Farms Country Experience is part of the Circle Farm Tour.

Robyn Roste lives and works in Abbotsford. She loves telling stories and learning more about her city.