Introducing Menuplanting

Today, Provender's team is really proud to offer a new platform to our community of farmers and buyers.

Menuplanting is a platform designed for new type of purchasing between buyers and sellers, something that we've seen over the last 18 months at Provender and have dedicated ourselves to solving with a simple piece of technology.

The Problem

Chefs are by their nature dreamers.  The craft of cooking inspires creative reach, but also is rooted in something fundamentally important- that each night, customers come through the door and must be fed.  Balancing creative urges and production demands is what makes a great chef.  

We see our role at Provender as being about giving cooks a bigger, better, cheaper palate of ingredients to play with.  We connect farms and buyers together to make more local food available, but also to avoid problems that chefs tell us prevent them from dealing with farmers- hassle, logistics, invoicing.  We've shipped hundreds of tonnes of local food from farm to fork, and each time we do so, we feel really grateful that our buyers and sellers trust us to make this process easier.

Sourcing great products has pushed us as a business to address some of the fundamental issues in agriculture- namely, how to help manage risk on behalf of our farm partners, so that they can sell more, waste less, and make a better margin on their products.

That led us, in 2014, to open up advanced ordering on Provender, so that buyers could purchase even before the product was harvested.  That led us, in 2015, to allow our buyers to group-purchase whole animals at the moment of slaughter, weeks before aging and butchery made that product available.

Today, we're taking the last step in that journey backwards in time- we're launching Menuplanting to our community. Today, we're giving our buyers a seat at the table from the very moment when our farmers are selecting what crops they will grow for the year.

Introducing Menuplanting

Seeds are an amazing thing.  Being the technology geeks we are, we talk a lot about seeds being the database of agriculture- where all the potential is stored, patiently waiting for a moment that it can be grown into something delicious.  

Seed selection is a difficult process for a farmer- he or she must know not only what the soil of the farm will best support, but also what diseases the seeds must resist, and what the perfect time to plant will be in order to have a crop come to market perfectly.

Menuplanting is a tool that helps farmers in that decision by providing them with information on what buyers want for the coming year.  By giving buyers the opportunity for the first time to collaborate on these decisions, we help our farmers make the right decisions on what buyers want most.

For our buyers, we're offering a platform to help unlock the potential of local farms.  We give them access to a rich database of agriculture, so that they may request that a farmer plant them the perfect combination of ingredients for their menu.

Menuplanting is about collaboration for buyers and sellers, so both sides of the Provender community can come together and make the process of growing great local food a little bit easier for both buyer and seller.  We're delighted to be launching this product out of a private beta today, and after hundreds of successful and unsuccessful plantings haven proven the value of the platform, we're ready to share this with the world.

Pop on Menuplanting today, request some seeds, get matched with a great local farmer, and start unlocking the potential of agriculture.  We're proud of this next step for our company and we could not be more proud of the community of farmers ready to make this happen.

best,
Caithrin & The Provender Team.

 

How It Works

Menuplanting is a platform for agricultural supply, made for helping farmers and buyers collaborate on the building blocks of agriculture- seeds. Through Menuplanting, buyers can instantly request a crop from a community of hundreds of Provender growers, track their crops progress from seed to sale, and connect with their growers to customize the fields of their local farm communities.


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1. DISCOVER YOUR PERFECT SEEDS

The core of Menuplanting is a rich and diverse catalogue of seeds- tailor made for North American growers and sourced from the finest local seed suppliers. Browse this catalogue of diverse, regional foods and choose the crops that best suit your needs.


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2. REQUEST A PLANTING

Submitting a request to plant is simple and straightforward- pick your seeds, your quantities, and send us your payment information.


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3. MATCH WITH THE PERFECT GROWER

Menuplanting will take your seed selection and match you algorithmically with a farmer who’s climate, region, growing practices and price point are best suited to you as a buyer. It works a bit like internet dating- we find you the perfect partner, and we’ll introduce you both via email.


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4. TRACK YOUR CROP PROGRESS

As your crops grow out, Menuplanting will keep you up to date with the latest information on your successes and failures in the agricultural world.  Via email and blog, we'll keep tabs on your crops for you, so you know what will be ready, when, and in what condition.


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5. PRE-ORDER AND HARVEST YOUR MENU

The moment our growers give the green thumbs up, we’ll list your product for sale as a pre-order in the Provender marketplace. When your grower confirms yield and harvest date, we provide you with a comprehensive list of harvests, notes on quality and a link to the purchase on Provender that is exclusive to you until harvest.


6.DROPPED OFF AT YOUR DOOR

Once the purchase is made, your grower will ship the product right to you,either in person or through a food safe, accredited transporter. Happy eating!  

 


Corner Stalk Farm & The Leafy Green Machines

In the holiday spirit, on the 9th December 2015 we'll be donning our elf hats and handing out 20 half bushel cases of Connie & Shawn's fine lettuces to our amazing restaurants in Boston! Interested? Send us an email and let us know! 

Connie & Shawn Cooney at Corner Stalk Farm run a tight shipping container! A meticulously controlled environment can produces lettuces regardless of season. Mindful tinkering allows for relentless efficiency: Corner Stalk can produce 250,000 heads of lettuce a year at 20 plants per square foot (a significant increase from traditional agricultures 1.75).

From Black Hawk and Cherokee Crisp to Refugio and Rhazes Bibb, Connie & Shawn will provide you with a carefully curated mix of five to eight lettuces dependent on what is ready to be harvested. Local lettuce means increased shelf life! No more trucking and warehousing digging into the freshness of your leaves: Corner Stalk Lettuces are harvested day of delivery with their roots intact giving you almost 2 weeks of delicious, crisp, salad greens.

Barry Maiden & Glenn Roberts: A Gritty Ordeal

Much like most of life, dinner started with a seed. A benne seed to be precise. A tiny, oblong, almond-tinged seed with little perceivable odor. You wouldn’t think it’d have much to say. Yet, within the husk of this tiny seed lies an analogy for what is wrong with the entirety of our food system and, thankfully, how it’s being fixed.

Nestled between dark classrooms and dingy corridors lies demo-room 117. An unlikely spot for a mashup between agricultural behemoth Glenn Roberts and culinary demi-god Barry Maiden. Glenn setup his milling company, Anson Mills, in 1998 with the aim to revive grains and seeds being lost to our industrial agriculture system. He purchased four traditional granite mills, a plot of land in South Carolina, and some rice seeds painstakingly procured from a Texan geneticist. The rest is history.  

Now, back to our ignoble hero, the benne seed. The benne seed started its existence in the kitchens of West Africa. One of humanity's greatest tragedies saw its removal from native soils to the fertile plains of the Carolinas where it quickly established itself as an important crop in medical and kitchen gardens. Yet, as Western demands for its oil soared, the perceived necessity for its deliciousness diminished and as result the resemblance of antebellum benne to modern sesame is murky at best.

One quick sip of benne cream quickly allows you to taste this. It’s flavor is reminiscent of lightly toasted peanuts and wild flowers. Its opaque, caramel-like milky hue is far removed from modern, refined sesame oil. The work being done by Glenn to revive this near extinct being is just one in a handful of species being revived by Anson Mills.

And what could be more culture defining than a bowl of grits. It takes a true southerner to crave a bowl of unctuous porridge made from milled corn. However, much like the benne seed, modern grits are as far removed from true grits as can possibly be. Barry cooked up some of Glenn’s white flint corn grits. Glenn mills his product to order such that the corn you receive a few days later is as fresh as can be. The germ of the corn is kept so all the volatile, fatty acids that create the flavor of corn are retained. His grits actually express corns flavor, and are not just a vessel for some other flavor.

Simplicity is imperative when dealing with a product like this. Barry quickly dismisses horrified glares surrounding his position on milk and cheese. Water and butter is all it takes to cook perfectly grown grits. Glenn chimes in over the importance of water in the south. It’s mild alkalinity allows for some nixtamalization to occur, making amino acids present in corn a lot more bioavailable. Perfectly creamy, grits were served. Their sweet, distinctly corny and mineraly scent wafting up to the guests nostrils. Sky8 Shrimp sat proudly atop their bed of grits, crowned with crunchy, amusingly demonstrated, popped sorghum.

You would think that corn milling was central to the story of Anson Mills and the history of the south. Yet, it all starts with one crop: Carolina Gold Rice. This rice, so beautifully floral and perfumed, was revered by the goliaths of early 20th century European cuisine and central to the cuisine named after it (The Carolina Rice Kitchen). Indeed, here our narrative moves toward the importance of the creolisation of the south and the importance of the ingredient.

After cooking the rice in boiling water, Barry drains and carefully spreads it out. He slots laurel leaves and positions diced cubes of butter throughout the sheet and places it into a warm oven. What may seem to be a simple method is laden with story. Glenn reveals that this method is reminiscent of open hearth cookery, a technique commonly used by the Dutch in the area. Bay (leaves?) too has its cultural connotations; it: It is well known as an antimicrobial and as a result was used to prevent rice molding during transatlantic storage. Combining the rice with Anson Mills Sea Island Red Peas adds a distinctly African tinge. Yet another feather in the cross cultural hat.  

On the Creole, Barry takes us to the northern Alpine realms of Italy by making pizzoccheri with what could be considered the masked pretender of the grain world: buckwheat. Once milled, this tannic, potent, and nutty flour takes on the appearance of a grain product but is actually a member of the rhubarb family.

Glenn tells us of the forced expulsion of the Acadians, destined to head south to the bogs and bayous of Louisiana, bringing with them a crepe culture that goes hand-in-hand with this grain. Its use in the crop cycle as a plant that will fix potassium into the soil was quickly shelved after the petrochemical industry produced NPK: Perhaps the most bittersweet innovation in agriculture.

Anchoring home the evening, Barry serves up a staple: cornbread. But not the sweet, cake-like bread that has become a staple on all lower end barbecue restaurants. Chef Maiden demonstrates the utter simplicity of cracklin’ antebellum cornbread. A thin batter of cornmeal and buttermilk is poured into a small, cast iron skillet, glistening with smoking bacon fat. Nothing could complement this better than the mildly sweetened sorghum butter that gently melted down the side of the slice. Glenn’s silence said it all: Barry Maiden had out done himself. There could have been nothing better to wind the evening down.

As a mixed shroud of satisfaction, wine fog, and general food coma begins to set in, Barry and Glenn wind down the evening. The crowd starts to thin and the intrigued hang back. A friendly pow-wow ensues: Praises, questions, and the odd recipe are thrown around.

The Urban Acorn Market

Written by Chef Charlotte

These beauties have opened the second branch of the business!

Having met Marie and Chef Daniel not long ago, I could tell from our quick exchange that they had plans in mind. Diligence, hard work and extreme talent has blossomed a catering business into a whole other joint venture:

The Urban Acorn Market


Softly opened only 3 weeks ago, this small batch local, vegan, gluten free and flexitarian shop is already generating demand and interest in its 1565 Dupont street location in TorontoThe local clients are engaged and currently showing love for the local!

Apples, pears, the last of the seasons berries as well as the local in house brands that are prepared lovingly by Chef Daniel. They have brought in a few other chefs as well to do some grab and go value added products.

The basic concepts on ethical eating have evolved with the shop opening and have allowed both Daniel and Marie to collaborate with the community more so than they thought possible. Working closely with Provender and a few other like minded partners, they are able to incorporate a community and network that guarantees true farm to fork.

 

A little about Daniel and Marie

 They had there first date at the AGO and while they were strolling around and talking they found themselves engaging in great conversation by the 

Feeling an intimate relationship to the tender piece, they both shared pieces of there past and found they had a lot in common with there history. The couple found themselves falling for each other after the 2nd date. Daniel cooked for Marie and she was blown away by the care and quality of the food he made for her. He made leftovers: Beef tenderloin with pear latkes and a black peppercorn mushroom glaze. Marie was definitely interested... The collaboration started there and Marie did a target market project on Chef Daniel Holloway's' private chef business. They started with working on juices and ciders for Lit and than met a few clients that were able to facilitate the growth they were looking for.

Urban Acorn Catering was born and it has been flourishing ever since.

Supper clubs, there 20th in under 3 years! has also been a huge success.

The birth of Urban Acorn Market gives this lovely couple just enough time to settle in before they get married early next year.

All the best!

The Provender family

Vices & Versa: Simply good

We’ve talked with Vices & Versa’s chef Carl Poulin about the quiet revolution he is leading in his kitchen, and why it will endure…

The cozy terrace of Vices & Versa

The cozy terrace of Vices & Versa

Carl Poulin worked in many different restaurants before ending up at Vices & Versa. “The owners were very open about letting me change the menu and doing my own thing. I came here and sort of took control over the kitchen and they said, ‘Ok, you’re the chef!’. That’s how the revolution started…” remembers Carl. A revolution that changed the menu from classic bar food -burgers and poutine- to more seasonally and locally sourced dishes. « We still have burgers but the meat isn’t generic anymore, it’s from a farm in Mont-Laurier, and the bread comes from Première Moisson. I’m currently working on an octopus dish braised in red wine, with black rice and kohlrabi. » A simple and tasty menu, with no frills and good, honest products.

The strong appeal to work with local products -Nordest’s meat, home made smoked salmon, Québec’s tomatoes and blueberries, micro greens from jardins Bioma, etc.- is for Carl a matter of principle. « We have people here in Québec crafting beautiful products and growing delicious produce. It is our job [i.e., the chefs’] to offer that local bounty to customers, to help distribute it. » If this seems like sound reasoning now, it was less so 4 or 5 years ago according to Carl. Could it be a simple trend? “More of a tipping point” thinks Poulin. « The interest in where how food comes from, who grew it, who raised it… This will endure. It becomes a value. »

The value of local consumption manifests in all kinds of initiatives, from urban agriculture to products now being labeled ‘made in Québec’. For Carl, Provender is clearly a significant step in the direction leading to shorter food chains: “I’ve been with Provender since the beginning. I think the idea is brilliant; to me it represents the future.”

Towards the end of our meeting, Carl brings me into the kitchen and gives me a piece of finely cut kohlrabi. « I got it through Provender. I don’t usually cook with it but I thought, ‘Ok, I’m going to try it’. And I love it! » While he’s in the kitchen, he insists that I try the octopus dish, « it’s not on the menu yet » he tells me, but it ought to be: the meat is firm and tender at the same time; the black rice is cooked to perfection and soaked with red wine sauce; baby kale, cherry tomatoes and thin slices of kohlrabi top off the dish by adding crunch and texture, with the subtle addition of sesame seeds and peas. It’s simple, fresh, flavourful, and represents superbly the end of summer bounty. With a wonderfully cold fall coming full speed, I will certainly hang out more often near Carl’s kitchen, a pitcher of microbrewed beer in one hand, a fork in the other, and friends around the table… a simple recipe for a good evening.

Nordest: The secret of good meat

At farm Nordest, near Mont-Laurier, cows are raised differently -here’s how. 

Cows at Nordest graze on 1200 acres of land, 500 of which are forest.

Cows at Nordest graze on 1200 acres of land, 500 of which are forest.

Roger Raymond and Céline Bélec like to keep it in the family. With their sons David and Mathieu they manage a 1200 acre farm as well as 200 cows, a shop in Mont-Laurier and a stand at Jean-Talon market in Montréal. Roger and David attend to all the farm chores: « We have long weeks » admits Roger, and we have no trouble imagining the huge amount of work required to keep this ancestral land up and running. Bought back from the government in 1982, the former owner of the farm was Roger’s great grandfather: « My sons are the fifth generation of farmers to work this land. » One only has to take a good look at the place to understand why the Raymonds have stayed there for so long.

 

When Roger brings us on a tour of the property, we are astonished by the beauty of the landscape. The car cuts through great oat and barley fields, both cereals Raymond uses to feed his cows: « It yields a different meat, whiter, with a distinct taste. » Which would explain why customers keep coming back to their shops: « People often tell us that our meat tastes different, better » observes Raymond.

But oat is not the only thing that makes Nordest’s meat very good. Their cows graze on 1200 acres of land, 500 of which are forest. « I am often told that this is a crazy thing to do, that it is not profitable » says Roger. But it is this method that actually allows Roger to have such healthy cows: « No vet has set foot on this land for over three years. My cows find everything they need in nature. Some of them are over 17 years old! », which is astonishing considering that most farmers only keep theirs for 8 or 10 years. It is a similar scenario in the stockyard: while it could hold over 200 cows, Roger only keeps 20 or so: « Diseases spread quickly when you have 250 animals in there. You then have to put them on antibiotics, and that is simply out of the question for me, even though it is less profitable. »

If these methods are criticized by his peers, Roger says he will keep doing things his way: « I’ve always done things differently. But if I had to do it again, I would leave the whole marketing thing to others. I would only take care of the cows. » Marketing products does indeed take a lot of extra time and energy for producers, a tasks that is mostly undertaken by Céline at Nordest: «We like that Provender deals with a portion of the customer service. So we don’t have to deal with many clients -which would translate into more time and a heavier work load- but instead we deal with only one, and it’s Provender. »

Back in the fields, Roger introduces us to some of the cows. I’m surprised when he picks one out of the crowd; to me they all look the same. « It’s from habit » shrugs Roger. But also, I’m pretty sure, a lot of love.

Roger Raymond and Céline Bélec, proud Québec producers.

Roger Raymond and Céline Bélec, proud Québec producers.

Photos: Alison Slattery

Burger Royal: A New Standard for the Burger

Here’s a burger joint where every item in every plate can be traced back to the source: Welcome to Burger Royal, the farm to table version of the cheeseburger. 

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I’ve only been in Burger Royal for a few minutes and already the chef Sami asks if I’m hungry. I mumble a half-response, but it’s enough for him: « I’ll get you a mini. » Seven minutes later, the burger is in front of me: the bun is light and golden, the patty inviting, with homemade cheese and bacon between both. I taste it. It is, simply put, one of the best burgers I’ve had in my life.

« It’s my ode to the fast food burger: You have homemade American cheese, homemade sweet pickles, pickled onions and thousand island dressing or big mac sauce. Thebuns are from the artisanal bakery Le Fromentier, the meat comes from Nordest and the bacon I buy from Boucher fâché, two producers I deal with through Provender. » Burger Royal might remind you of the traditional burger joint, except you won’t find any ingredient that has not gone through a thorough selection process, based on quality. Everything is either homemade or transparently sourced: Sami knows his producers, and even has them eat at his restaurant from time to time. « Nobody ever represents a country better than the farmers because they work with the land. So it’s my way of showing my gratitude to my adoptive country » says the Syrian born chef.

« You have a lot of great restaurants in Montreal that are farm to table but none of them are comfort food. There’s no reason you could not have that with burgers and mac n’ cheese » explains Sami. Talking about mac n’ cheese, Sami is proud to say that he knows the origin of each ingredient: « I know where the flour comes from, the butter, the cream, the milk, the cheese… That’s what makes us happy.» And the clients as well: The chef proudly reports that even after eating the half pound burger, clients feel full but not heavy. A quality that is hence felt physically, but also ethically: « There are vegetarians that come here and order beef burgers because they know about our ethics. » They could, however, have ordered the veggie patty, rated by Buzzfeed as one of the 10 best vegetarian burgers in the world.

"Nobody ever represents a country better than the farmers because they work with the land."

When I asks him why he chose to open a burger place, Sami tells me an anecdote from his youth: « My brother and I had the chance to travel a lot and each time we would arrive at a new hotel, we would order a burger and would rate the place based on how good the burger was. »  If burgers served as a reference for quality  in Sami’s life, we can doubtlessly say that in turn, the chef and his team have created a new standard of quality for the burger. 

Steve, a US member of the Provender community, on the hunt for the best burger of his life. In shock at Burger Royal after the first bite!

Steve, a US member of the Provender community, on the hunt for the best burger of his life. In shock at Burger Royal after the first bite!

Photos: Emanuel Pinochet

Once upon a weekend in Prince Edward County

Written by Chef Charlotte

Once upon a weekend there was a small group of food gypsy’s who packed their caravan full of tasty treats...

Wild Mushrooms, peaches and corn. Tomatoes and smoked fish. Off they went….

They drove and drove and watched the sun go down and the cloud animals move around the sky. A sea horse floated over their resting place. A large barn filled with brilliant light awaited them and they smiled at each other aware of how lucky they were to be alive. Glasses of chilled, lightly amber coloured liquid was placed in their hands as the Gypsy’s unpacked their wares. Robust cuts of meat and thinly skinned red fruits tumbled out of their satchels as the coals of the fire were stoked, revealing the heat trapped inside of them. Thin slices of fragrant celery, shavings of rich parmesan and chunks of tomato were blended together with cider vinegar and cold pressed sunflower oil. The coals flickered and spit as the meat was presented to it, almost as if it knew what it had to do. In the coals nestled summer corn, smoke and sweet filled the air as the family awaited their meal. A gathering of plates, liquids replenished and the group fell upon the meal with fervour. Each bite a gift of our land. A few lingering tastes and the meal was done, the laughter and stories still flowing as abundantly as the wine. They faded into the night as the stars took over the sky and it was with this sign, they rested.

Early next morning, the bright warm sun awoke these people with smiles on their faces. They were ready and full of anticipation for their next adventure.

A few roads away, the Trails Estate Winery was awaiting their arrival.

Tents lined the field and wild flowers were piled on the table tops. Fresh seasonal wines were being introduced there and the gypsy’s had brought tastes to pair with them.The band of gypsy’s started setting up and a short while later, they were ready to feed their guests. Freshly shucked sweet peas with a red currant mignonette started off the meal. Guests mingled as they slurped down the fresh peas and sipped on chardonnay that shone with a pale clean wash. A slew of canned fish, bagna cauda, smoked oysters, smoked trout and pickled white bass followed and the guests dipped and shared and passed the tastes around the table. Crispy summer vegetables were there to dip and refresh the palate between the bits and sips they were enjoying.

A leg of lamb, roasted in spice was sliced cold and covered in a wild mustard sauce. Slices of cucumber tossed in fresh dill, purslane, wild dandelion vinaigrette. Toasty sunflower seeds added crunch and creaminess to the bright sour crunch of the cucumber. Peaches, apricots and plums were roasted slowly and tossed in fresh cheese, topped with sheep sorrel to brighten and showcase the richness of the fruit. Wild mushrooms, roasted, simply. Left to shone on their own. A bright green salad of Broccoli, marinated and then grilled until slightly charred was made love to with a smoked oyster emulsion and teased by wild carrot seeds. Thick and rich boudin noir was spread on toast and highlighted with small summer tomatoes that enhanced the iron quality of the dish, bringing it back to life in your mouth.

The guests, drunk on the summer sun, the food and wine began to slow down. Relaxed and full of joy, the spoke with one another softly and sighed about how their bellies were beginning to be be stretched.

Just one more……

Something sweet to entice your palate and reinvigorate your day. Fresh Cheese, whipped with honey and salt, roasted peaches and toasted honey crumbs.

A subtle farewell and the band left quietly, so as not to stop the moment. Off to the shore they went and they revelled in the care they had for each other and the others they had cared for.

Dick's Market Garden

The Provender Boston team is busy in beautiful New England, kicking off their 7rd week of farm visits.  Adam and Jay, our market launch team, have spent their time getting acquainted with the region's producers, production methods and diverse product offerings.

 Steve Violette and Adam Bent

 Steve Violette and Adam Bent

Yesterday, the team traveled to Lunenburg to spend the day with Steve Violette, a second generation owner of a 100+ acre farm, Dick’s Market Garden. The first seeds were sown by his father Richard in 1962, and now Stephen’s wife and two children, Rita and Gareth, are joined by a committed group of smiling staff that make up the Dick's Market Garden Family. Rita and Gareth are both involved on the farm with a keen interest in science and agriculture, and may one day be the third generation leaders of this sprawling campus of cultivation. The Dick's Market Garden family, from the fields to the farm staff, radiate a strong sense of community. The Provender team is excited to be working with Emily, who will be coordinating the foray into working with chefs and restaurants in the Boston area.

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Steve practices a balanced approach to production, where his farm is strategically laid out over several beautiful fields. As a responsible land steward with a strong commitment to top product quality, Steve practices annual crop rotation, uses non-GMO seeds and has created a couple natural irrigation ponds to ensure the water purity for his crops. Dick's Market Garden utilizes the IPM system and works with consultants to monitor and spray the bare minimum in order to maintain production standard.  In addition, many of Steve’s crops are grown without the use of pesticides to form a nice blend of sustainable and traditional production methods. As Adam and Jay toured the several fields and orchards, they were pleased to discover a producer who has proven with conviction that a large scale operation can be conservative with their use of pesticides while offering dozens of gorgeous products grown with organic practice. The boys made special note of the respect given for natural growth cycles on the farm and the overall health and well-being of the land and family staff.

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Steve also keeps bee hives among his orchards and fields, pollinating and producing honey sold at their market and works with a local bee keeper to help keep population levels high.  Offering dozens of products throughout the season, Dick's Market Garden has an abundant supply of fruit, produce and herbs, along with some difficult to find varieties of asian and west-indie greens as well as specialty peppers. Products can be ordered up until the end of October and sometimes as late as November. Steve has developed a strong farmers market program that launched in 1982 and now operates 8 weekly markets throughout greater Boston and the surrounding areas.

Towards the end of their journey, Steve pointed out a plot of land they plan to certify organic in the next year. After biting into some unknown asian hot peppers (at their own request!) the guys were able to cool off their mouths with some DELICIOUS white peaches.

The Provender team is delighted to have Steve and his wonderful team join their community. Keep an eye out for our official launch in late August!  

Omnivore: For the love of food

The latest edition of festival Omnivore in Montreal celebrated local food through the work of the best chefs around and lots, lots of fun.

Between Omnivore & Montreal, there’s a love story. It has been five years now and after spending the last edition talking, meeting with chefs, and tasting fabulous products, we are confident it is going to last.

 

Featuring Ségué Lepage from Le Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins, Michel Ruel and Mathhieu Gauthier from Isle de Garde brewery,  Samuel Pinard  from La Salle à Manger, Marc-Alexandre Mercier from Hotel Herman, Simon Mathys from Accords and many others, this fourth edition has seen both known and new faces gracing its stands, proof that the festival is keen on strengthening existing relations as well as on developing new ones. And we won’t complain!

It’s always a pleasure to hear passionate chefs talk about their products and the chefs at Omnivore did not disappoint. Todd Perrin from Mallard Cottage in St. John’s talked about cod at length while preparing boudin blanc for the crowd: "The story goes that when John Cabot came over in 1487, the ships literally slowed down as they approached Newfoundland because there was so much fish in the water. I wasn’t there so I take their word for it." It was also a thrill to hear Samuel Pinard from La Salle à Manger share his love of produce, particularly that of his main producer, M. Bertrand, who provides the chef with fresh fruits and veggies since the opening of his restaurant. On the subject of producers, it would be a crime not to mention the delicious chanterelles from Gaspésie Sauvage that delighted so many people those four days, as well as Fleur en bouche’s flowers used so delicately by Cirkus’ Julien Joré and Stéphanie Labelle in their demo. Céline Bélec was also present, proudly representing Ferme Nordest’s grass fed beef. Among all these diverse demonstrations of culinary skill, two mottos were omnipresent. In the words of Perrin:

"Fresh ingredients" and "Make it taste good"

All three chefs who cooked that night followed those guidelines to the tee. Anton Kovalkov from Moscow, Romain Tischenko from Paris, and Jason Morris from Montréal prepared a 6 course menu starring some of the freshest local products: creamy goat cheese, marinated cucumbers and grilled pickles from the Jardinets de la Paysanne; scorched cobs of corn with braised pork and homemade salsa verde; cotton-like white fish with miso sauce and kale from the market; beef tartare from Nordest with grapefruit juice; tarragon ice-cream with sorrel granita. Québec’s natural bounty was evident in these masterful dishes, lending an incredible range of flavours and textures. 

But good food needs good friends to share it with, and that night everybody shared: chefs with diners, diners with each other, and producers with chefs. Omnivore is indeed a love story -between a festival and a city, but more importantly between eaters and a land.