Weekly News

VanValley Food Connection

Fall at Rondriso

Week 17

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

Well here we are.  I can almost see the mist rising from the pumpkin patch (above, courtesy of Ron).  Perhaps a Edgar Allan Poe moment coming on.  I resist.  It has been an wonderful ride.   I contemplated making thank you cards and schemed for all kinds of take away gifts and in the end I thought that it was best if I kept it to the email send off.  Hopefully you do not find me remise.  You have been wonderful members and it has been a pleasure to work with you all.   The newsletters have been fun to produce and I am glad they have been so well received.  I do regret that I was unable to get the website up and running in time …however I am confident that in a few weeks, should you feel like something is missing (that pesky vanvalley in the inbox) and you want to check our website…you will be rewarded.  As for this weeks content, I thought the best way to end the program was with a toast (thank you James) a recipe idea from one of our members and just some random snapshots of the last four months.  Thanks again and see you all soon (and of course, Happy Halloween/Day of the Dead!)

As Ron is unable to attend the last pickup he wanted to say a few words to you all:
“It’s a Monday night, late and I sit at my computer with mixed emotions.  Sad because it is the last time I will be figuring out the box contents for the VanValley summer box.  I am also sad because I will not be able to be at the final distribution.  But at the same time there is a sense of relief and joy because it also means Pumpkin Patch is almost over, winter hours are near and more time to spend with my wife and children.  As tough as it is on me, its tougher on them when I am too busy.  This summer was one of new challenges, new faces, new friendships, new everything, including a side of Mother Nature I hope I never have to face again!  The VanValley box brought me great satisfaction when watching people open their boxes and as well as the awesome feedback.  As a farmer, this is what keeps you going.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of the great VanValley members and working with all the people involved.  There was truly some great things done at VanValley!
As I gear up for winter I wish all of you the best, and extend my thanks Alanna for keeping the summer box going.  Also to the members, for their feedback and support, and to Loren, Quentin, and Jerry for providing some great food for us all, and all the volunteers and people who contributed to VanValley!!”

Thank you,

Ron Tamis
Rondriso Farms

Tom and Dave (from the Applebarn) in Action!

Week 16

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

Well with only one more week left this week is a little different. It seems a good time to introduce you to some of the voices behind the newsletter as well as the volunteers that have made this pilot possible.  Following my little blurb, we have a bio and a favorite culinary treat from each of our three newsletter contributors: Jesse Veenstra, Caroline Manuel and James Nevison.  Enjoy!  Thank you newsletter team for bringing your creativity, knowledge and direction to our seasonal cooking.

Pickups were made easy by Tom Dawson & Frank Fleming (and with a few Cameo’s by Kristen Geekie and David Ozier) mostly at the Marche (albeit there were some good double duty emergency moments…thank you all for stepping in).  Primarily at the Cambie location, we had Alice Paul (we wish you well on your studies and hope that you got enough surveys completed!)  Thank you guys!  We also want to extend a BIG thank you to everyone at the Marche for being such wonderful hosts to our weekly decent, keeping us well cafeinated (and fed) and also to the Local Food Fresh Market for allowing us to use their parking lot.  You have both been great and equally instrumental to the success of the pilot.  Thank you.

Sorry for the delay in the newsletter this week.  Lots of technical problems and I discovered some of the stylistic restrictions of MailChimp.  So in the spirit of needing to “go to press” I am forgoing my desire to see the layout make sense, we live with the gaps!  Now, on to getting ready for Halloween.  As I mentioned last week – please do share your carving skills (posted on facebook!).  Feel free to test out your costumes at the last pickup on Thursday Oct 27.  I am dying for some good ideas for this years dress up!  Remember the Pumpkins!  Sugar pumpkins are $3 and Regular (which are a medium size) are $5.  Please let us know by Monday noon if you want your Halloween pumpkin.

Thanks again and see you all soon.

Our newsletter team:

Jesse at Rondriso

Jesse Veenstra, MSc, BSc

I grew up in rural south-eastern Ontario, just outside of Kingston, a town which has Ontario’s oldest, and longest running farmer’s market(a market which, quite conveniently, also happens to be held year-round, three days a week!)

The Kingston Market, along with my mom’s amazing garden in the summertime, are hands-down responsible for my love of fresh, seasonal food.

I fondly remember sitting on the kitchen counter at a very young age watching my mom and grandmothers cooking and preserving. The first thing I learned to make all on my own (at about age 5) was homemade Caesar salad dressing (raw farm-fresh egg yolk and all). I began making the salad regularly, experimenting and tweaking it slightly until it was just to my liking. I then branched out concocting other types of dressings and salad accompaniments and found I had quite a knack for it. Before long I was designated as the salad chef of our  household and was officially bitten by the food bug.

Skip forward about 12 years (during which time I expanded my culinary horizon’s far beyond salads…and not all ventures were nearly as successful, I can assure you!) and it was time for me to leave home and attend University. When I moved out two things became immediately apparent to me:

1. Access to fresh, local food is not as easy to come by as I had grown accustomed to growing up

2. I wanted to learn more about the health benefits of food, and marry this with my passion for cooking so I could share this knowledge with others.

As a result, I went on to obtain both my Bachelor and Master of Science in Human Health and Nutrition from the University of Guelph. I now enjoy cooking just as much as ever, but am also able to share both my practical skills and academic knowledge with others in a way that allows them to enjoy delicious food that just happens to be healthy too.

I hope your experience with VanValley this season has encouraged you to try new recipes, and perhaps even create a few of your own.

Caroline and Alma at the Marche

Caroline Manuel

Caroline’s interest in food was more or less forced upon her at the tender age of 9 when it was determined she was old enough to cook dinner for her Mum and 5 siblings. In the Manuel household each kid cooked dinner once a week with the big Sunday dinner prepared by Mum. Her earliest dishes were: tuna casserole featuring cream of mushroom soup and chili con carne made from the recipe on the Heinz kidney bean can.

From there she started working in restaurants at the tender age of 17 where the serious business of food took hold. Her first gig at a macrobiotic restaurant, where the Greek father of the owner would insist she try Kalamta olives, saganaki and taramosalata until she developed a taste for these strange and what she thought rather off-putting foods, had no idea what a strong impression he made on this impressionable young foodie.

A year in Spain at the age of 20 sealed the deal. Caroline had the privilege of visiting farms and artisanal producers of cheese, meat, breads and more while also witnessing what regional cooking really meant. A recipe is only as good as the interpretation of the cook and the quality of ingredients used.

After five years as a part owner of a popular Vancouver breakfast joint and a stint on a locally produced food based TV show, Caroline finds herself the beamingly proud mother of an almost one-year-old who seems to have a passion for food already!

Over this inagural Van Valley summer season Alma has feasted – very messily –on luscious beets, stringy squash, beautiful early potatoes, blueberries (frozen and fresh) corn, apples, nectarines and the list goes on! What a lucky girl.

We feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of such a wonderful first season and eagerly look forward to many more!

James, Karen and Asa on the move!

 James Nevison

James is an award-winning wine writer and educator widely known as the wine columnist for The Province newspaper, where his “Wine Guy” column appears each Thursday. James is also the co-author of six national best-selling books on wine, including the Had a Glass series guiding wine drinkers to the Top 100 Wines under $20. Recognized as a “Top 40 Foodie Under 40” by Western Living magazine, James enjoys touring vineyards of the world and spreading the wine love! The latest—iPhone-appified—edition of Had a Glass will be released mid-November.

Week 15

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

Well, this week looks a lot like last week.  With the holiday and a shortened week right around deadline time and that I wanted to keep the newsletter on its Tuesday schedule, the result is a bare bones excerpt this week.  We hope that you are all recovering from some good harvest feasting and getting ready for some Halloween fun!  Let’s see some of those carving skills (posted on facebook!).
Pumpkins!  Sugar pumpkins are $3 and Regular (which are a medium size) are $5. 
Last week Ron told me that they were medium sized and what came off the truck were some pretty amazing pumpkins.  So if you are not able to get out to the farm yourselves, having a delicious orange mass brought in to you seems like a good alternative!  Just one more reminder that if you do have rollover credits and want to use them for bulk we are heading into the time when things are going out of season so do get in touch.

From the farm: The impacts of the late summer start and the seemingly relentless rains is again felt as we head into winter.  Sadly this year we will not know the sweet taste of Rondriso’s parsnips or onions.  Parsons also does not have onions this year.  Both had to dig there crops under due to the rain.  As a recent parsnip convert I have to say this is a sad time of the year, so let’s give a nod to the weather for a better time next year…once is enough!  Regardless, we have included a few suggestions as we head into the fall and winter.

Thanks again and see you all soon.

Week 14

Packing Joy

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

What would the newsletter be without an update on The website.  Given the priorities of the next few weeks, it being this late in the game and our desire to do it (the website and the launch) right, we are going to make the switch as we ease into our downtime at the end of the month.  Our new and improved web presence will be one of our primary ways to stay connected to you, our valued members, over the winter and early spring.  Thank you all for your patience.  This week we have added thoughts from Ron and Loren as we head into the last three weeks of the program. Thank you all for your continued support, interest and feedback.   Again, just a reminder that our last pickup is October 27.

Pumpkins!  With Thanksgiving here it is the season.  This week we have a special offer that we know is time sensitive.  Rondriso has regular pumpkins and sugar pumpkins available for pre-order (with pickup on Thursday).  We need to have your orders confirmed by Wednesday at 7pm.  We know this is a quick turnaround but was necessary.  Sugar pumpkins are $3 and Regular (which are a medium size) are $5. 
Next week they will also be available for order (but the same by monday bulk rules will apply).
A reminder that if you do have rollover credits and want to use them for bulk we are heading into the time when things are going out of season so do get in touch.

Otherwise, I think we have a pretty Thanksgiving friendly box ready for you, should you be planning a harvest celebration of some sort.  Stay tuned to the facebook for more festive ideas to help get your holiday creative juices going.  I love this time of the year, the cool air calling for that favourite sweater and lots of tea.  Then there is the cooking, roasting now makes sense.  I am excited about some beet salad, glazed carrots, a spiced bird and a maple pie that I just have to try (dare I admit I have decided to forego the pumpkins this weekend…Ill make one later, I promise).
Thanks again and see you all soon.

From US:

Ron: What a year it has been.  This is definitely going in to the archives as one we will never forget.  Thank you to all the members of VanValley as the Thursday afternoon pick-ups were definitely a high-light of the summer…

Loren: In March I had the privilege to meet with Ron, Alanna and Quentin. We discovered that we had a synergy that could result in a successful food box program.  With the financial help of Van City and the exceptional organization by Alanna  and Ron’s passion to farm we established this unique food connection… 

Rondriso Farm Pumpkin Patch

Surrey-pumpkin patch

Running for the month of October.  Come check it out and meet the Tamis Family (some of you have met the boys – in the photo above but most of you have yet to meet Pam and this is a great opportunity to see them all in action). Please see their website for directions and more details!

The AppleBarn Fall Fun

Pumpkins and Games

The Applebarn also has a pumpkin patch and corn maze along with other fun family activities.  A little further afield than Rondriso but also worth the trip.
Meet the entire Taves family and see their operation in action.  Do check out their website for more  details.

Week 13

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

The website remains to be a bit of a challenge.  Let’s just say it is coming.  However, as promised, we will present some thoughts from the farmers and team VanValley.  Thank you all for your continued support, interest and feedback.  Week 13, with 4 weeks to go (just a reminder that our last pickup is October 27) and a wonderful ride thus far as we head into fall.

Ron is taking a break from getting Rondriso farm ready for his pumpkin patch to make the Thursday trip into town. This will be the last time to ask him questions directly before the end of this summer box!  But remember you and always find him or his family on his farm or at the Rondriso general store.

Sorry for the short notice but this is the last week for peaches.  We bid adieu to these delicious treats.  A reminder that if you do have rollover credits and want to use them for bulk we are heading into the time when things are going out of season so do get in touch.  For those of you who want to double up your boxes in anticipation of a Thanksgiving feast – also let us know (by monday of course).

Thanks again and see you all soon.

Week 12

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

 The website: We lead with a tease (the photo), as I make my way through the content edits, I am not ready to let the cat out of the bag as they say.  But we are close.  The whole process is however taking a little longer than I anticipated and I am sorry for the delay. This week and last week I have been focussed on accounting and getting information together for both the farmers as well as our members regarding where we are and VanValley’s next steps.  As part of the information gathering and relay, I have assembled the feedback from you (see below). Next week, as promised, we will present some thoughts from the farmers and team VanValley.  Thank you all for your continued support, interest and feedback.  Week 12, with 5 weeks to go (our last pickup is October 27) and a wonderful ride thus far as we head into fall.

As you may have noticed, if you pickup up at Cambie, last week we welcomed a new face.  Matt (Stewart) will be taking Ron’s place bringing in our boxes and coordinating (with Alice) the Cambie pickup.  Matt is himself a farmer and currently works with Ron on a number of other projects including the Harvest box in Surrey.  Meanwhile Ron is getting Rondriso farm ready for his pumpkin patch and catching up on much needed farm tasks that have been neglected for his Thursday trip into town.  He will be back next week for a hello but that will be the last time to ask him questions directly before the end of this summer box!  Or you will just have to catch him on his farm or at the Rondriso general store.

A big thank you to those of you who have responded to our call for volunteers.  The support is awesome and  we will begin delegation in the coming few weeks.  To those who are still interested do continue to let us know should you be interested in helping out.  ON THE FARM: Ron has requested that if there is anyone out there who would like to help pick gourds – or pumpkins, do let us know.  You can either talk to us at the pickup or send us an email (please let us know what your availability is so we can coordinate effectively).

Thanks again and see you all soon.

From one of our volunteers…

Just a brief reminder about Alice’s survey…should you have a few minutes.  Thanks from all of us.

Food miles? Eating Local? Ecological Footprint? What do they all mean? Does it make a difference?

Alice Paul, a volunteer at Vanvalley is conducting a survey for her research paper on food distribution and the consumption of fuel. To support her valuable research please click to fill in her short survey (which should take no more than 15 minutes).  Thank you.

From YOU:

Finally the survey responses: As promised the survey has been consolidated.   Click on the link to see what what 35 people have said.  For those that want an abreviation I have reduced the feedback to the following highlights:  For the most part the response was either good or excellent with one exception (a concern regarding value, however it was also qualified).  Most respondents have celebrated the variety, value and overall experience.  There were a few comments which spoke mostly to the need for more information (regarding the bulk process and the trades bin in particular).  We have taken note regarding the suggestions for specific increased variety, more greens, and information regarding your produce and how it is grown.  With respect to signup and payment – we are able to provide payment plans however we are committed to keeping the process cash or cheque while making it otherwise as streamlined as possible through our online tools.  We also hear that there is interest in the Winter box and will speak to that in coming weeks (again thank you for your patience).  It seems that the consensus is that you like the newsletters…and we will endeavour to keep them coming and fresh.  For more detail please check out the doc.
AND most importantly,  thank you all for both your participation and feedback.  It is good to know we are on the right track.  We encourage you to continue to let us know what you think.

Week 11

Before I get to this weeks farm fun, I want to draw your attention to our call for volunteers.  Please check it out and get in touch if you have feedback, availability, or ideas.  Thank you. Our website is almost there so we are going to hold our Feast of Field splash (featuring Taphouse’s amazing contributions…) until next week.  So do stay tuned much good stuff to come.
From the farm: Having spent a bit of time at Rondriso, making a trip out there feels a little like visiting a friend (Ron, Pam, Caden, Mitchell and Luke…they are good peeps and I encourage you all to make the trip too, perhaps check out their farm store). Applebarn, I am beginning to get to know a bit more too and I am looking forward to spending some quality time there in the fall just in time to catch the farm in full swing (they have quite the scene going on in the fall). Parsons, on the other hand has always seemed a little far afield for a daily jaunt (although Quentin has been doing it weekly to bring you his abundant glory – thank you!).  So when the opportunity came to turn a visit into a end of summer vacation, I jumped.  Over the next few weeks we will be posting some images on the website and facebook to hopefully bring a bit of the journey to you – so in the absence of making the trip yourselves, hopefully you will get a glimpse into a pretty incredible place. A huge thank you to our hosts: Quentin, Morris and Yvonne (who is the wizard in the kitchen and who you will have the privilege to meet more during the winter box.  Enticement – I should hope so!)  What an awesome team and their staff – equally cool.  Definitely a stop to put on your OK (Okanagan) summer road trip calendar.

I am sure that the fruit of Parsons is really the dominant association.  However, early in the summer you were introduced to Parsons through their garlic scapes.  We know the impression was for some a curious one as many did not know what to do with them but we hope that a few were swayed to the amazing potential of the green gems.  My personal favourite is definitely the magic that Yvonne does with the Parsons Scapes Salt.  Cant wait to stock up for the winter (hint: they run out so best to plan ahead).  For this week it seemed only appropriate to take you full circle – to the bulb of that delicious plant.  Parsons has many varieties (about 10 really) and you have been sampling predominately the Red Russian and Music.  Both of which wonderful keepers with balanced flavour and should you be so inclined, will sprout into something wonderful should you plant one of these in your own garden!


The Winter Box

Most importantly I want to thank the members for being so good about expressing interest in the winter box.  Not wanting to keep you all waiting we will be making decisions over this week about VanValley future steps including winter box pricing and timeline.  Given that we have been in peak season for the farming partners it has taken longer than expected to have our planning meeting as well as assembling the essential numbers.   Thank you for your patience.  More news soon!

From one of our volunteers…

For those of you who are picking up at Cambie you will know Alice.  For those of you at the Marche – meet Alice.  She is doing a pretty cool project that speaks to something pretty close to VanValley’s heart:

Food miles? Eating Local? Ecological Footprint? What do they all mean? Does it make a difference?

Alice Paul, a volunteer at Vanvalley is conducting a survey for her research paper on food distribution and the consumption of fuel. To support her valuable research please click to fill in her short survey (which should take no more than 15 minutes).  Thank you.

david and the chicken

Speaking of Volunteers

Join in the fun :
We are looking for:
– promo help (either from behind your own desk or out in the world with us).
– book-keeping (a few hrs a week to help transition our simple system and maintain the basics)
– pickups (we need to have help in particular for the Cambie pickup location for October and into the winter).
– commercial location.  If there is an interested member(s) with time to run a commercial drive pickup, we have a location but no hands!  Let us know.
Please contact us for details or if you are interested.
Thank you!!!!
Please excuse my indulgent photo – they were both willing volunteers…

Parsons Teaser

Week 10

Before I get to this weeks list, I want to assure you that in the next week our member feedback and other promised news bits will arrive.  Sorry for the delay this week.  Had some technical difficulties and I think the end of summer busy got in the way of getting all that content wrangled in time with my travel schedule! Thanks for understanding. Next week we will be back on track.  Also, thank you all for your continued expressed interest in the winter box.  We will have the process up and running soon.

From the farm: Despite the delay in the newsletter, I was dovetailing my little end of summer vacation with a little VanValley business, as David and I were able to head to the Similkameen Valley to visit Parsons.  The original idea was that I would send you stories from the road (it almost worked)…well, best laid plans as they say.  More on that later.  I will withhold our garlic fun and for now and just send off a very brief version of our week ten update.  One last reminder of the Feast of Fields this weekend.  In our travels, I also learned of what promises to be a pretty amazing garlic festival in New Denver (the 19th annual Hills Garlic Festival)…should you be up for a road trip.  Parsons peeps will be there!
See you all very soon.

Week 9

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

Sweet and Simple:
August!  Crazy.  I think like a lot of us I’m sure, I am amazed that it is a hop skip and jump from September.   Last week I inundated you with a lot of info so this week we go light.  I am excited to say that next week I will be going on a little “field trip” to Parsons and look forward to sending you your update from “on the farm”.   In the meantime, my final reminder regarding upcoming events – the farmers will be at Feast of Fields in just over a week to showcase VanValley produce and promote the winter box!  And now for just a few ideas for the coming long weekend.  Have a great labour day everyone and see you Thursday!
Signing out…

Photo: Parsons Team!

The Winter Box

We are still finalizing the details and will launch our general signup campaign next week.  The winter program is 15 weeks.  Other than payment our signup process can be completed online or person (we will have a revised registration survey up soon).  Payment plans will be available for members and also for those that confirm registration in Sept or Oct. Details on this will follow or contact me (vanvalley.info@gmail.com) for details or to set something up.
Our current notes regarding price: as mentioned last week there will be a modest price increase (and slight decrease in poundage) to accommodate increased costs.  We are also noting that our 10% admin fee is not covering costs (details to follow in the fall review).  We will be posting a sample box schedule (contents) in the coming few weeks (its not JUST root veg!) And finally, a BIG thanks to all of you who have expressed interest and/or commitment to a winter box.  We hope that most of our members will travel with us into the winter, understanding of course that the winter program may not suit everyone.  Thank you.

the winning decision

And the winner is…

Eve Gagnon = a $100 gift certificate to the Taphouse in West Vancouver.
Alyssa Polinsky = a ticket to Feast of Fields on September 11.
Thank you to all of you who completed the survey thus far!  There will be more fun stuff in coming weeks so do not dismay if you missed out.

The Survey 

Even though we have drawn our prizes…You will still be able to fill the survey.  Again your feedback is super helpful.  Alanna

Have a great week.

Pastoral Perfection Rondriso Corn

Week 8

Pickup: Thursday 4-7pm

Sweet Corn and Stuff!

Cooking with gas!
Sort of speak… as we head into our halfway point we are bringing back the food ideas! As I have mentioned already, I take as much opportunity to BBQ as is possible in this weather.  I have to say – having Ron’s corn is an important addition to my BBQ experience (please let us know if you would like extra at pickup – see bottom and corn amounts per box are included in the list).  This week, in addition to the return of a healthy number of recipes, I am including a little more of a blurb regarding the survey and my somewhat spotty success with linking it. As an aside – It does work to go through the facebook.   Back to the farmers – who are flying busy – in all reports there are great things ahead and let’s all cross fingers for continued sun.  I am really excited about the next few weeks as peaches and field heirlooms get ready.  Hey – if anyone has any killer pear recipes – please let me know! Otherwise – you will be at our mercy.  A reminder regarding upcoming events – the farmers will be at Feast of Fields in a few weeks – along with Chef Matt, from the Taphouse who is stepping right off the plane from vacation and with his team, planning some pretty cool nibbles with VanValley produce! If there is a move to car pool we can organize through facebook!? On to this weeks tidbits:


Winter Box

The Winter Box

This section, like The List and Produce Specials, will now become a regular feature.  Here begins the process of promoting and signing up members for the winter box.
Over the next few weeks we will be finalizing the details and making sure you are the first to receive them.  We will launch our general signup campaign Sept 1st.
We have received some expressions of interest so far, which is inspiring as local over the winter is generally a challenge and an important time to support your local family farms.
Our current notes regarding price: in order to accommodate the increased price of production and produce we are modestly increasing our price point at only 10% which will be offset by a slight decrease in poundage and variety for each box size (details soon to be launched with the website).  The timeline has also been reduced to 15 weeks.
Currently the prices are set at $347 / $578 /  $ 817 (for a 15 week program).
Which translates to weekly prices of: $23.10 / $38.50 / $54.45
We will be posting a sample box schedule (contents) in the coming few weeks (its not JUST root veg!)

The Survey

An apology and a plea: well it seems that each week I have managed to bungle the link in one way or another. This week, I promise, it works.  Good thing too, it is the last week for you to fill out and still be entered into our draw.  You will still be able to fill the survey out following the deadline: Tuesday August 30th, however prize winners will be announced in next weeks newsletter. We really appreciate your time – it is both an useful gauge for us as well as a necessary tool to plan for both a winter box (for ex. whether or not there is a demand) as well as for next summer.  Please remember to include your contact info. Best Alanna

blueberries drying

Week 7

Summer buzz:

It is official we will be launching our new face (website) in mid september.  Please watch for us.  The Fuse folks are working tirelessly on putting the polish on what will be the new VanValley digital portal.

Along with the website launch we will begin to showcase our corporate members on a regular basis – which in essence will begin Mid September when we go to Farm Folk City Folk’sFeast of Fields event with The Village Taphouse.  More on them later… For information on the Feast of Fields do check it out – it is a wonderful event and Farm Folk City Folk is a great organization!  This year it is at Krause Berry Farms.  Should be a wonderful early fall excursion.  You can get tickets online, at Krause Berry Farm or at Choices Market (there is a bus leaving from the Cambie store on the 11th, should you want to car pool).

For the newsletter this week we are putting the recipes on the “back burner” more or less and showcasing a few of the lesser headlined methods of preserving (seems canning has the limelight these days!).  This week we highlight drying (fruit mostly) and freezing (vegetables in particular).   With the future in mind, it is so attractive to think that you can open a container or the freezer and capture a bit of summer and the amazing produce we are seeing right now.  Despite the challenging start to this year what the farmers are sending us is pretty special. As we say “Goodbye” to those delicious blueberries we say “Hello” sweet corn!  Rondriso’s sweet corn is making its first appearance.  It will be in the boxes for the next few weeks (to take you through the long weekend BBQ season).  Also, this week only, Parsons is sending us some very special Golden Plums.

So really we thought best that this week is dedicated to the beauty of simplicity.  A little butter, oil – and what better than some corn on the BBQ.  And the plums…we don’t want to mess with perfection.  That will be next week.

We are loving the facebook contributions!  Thank you members. Keep them coming 🙂

Enjoy.  Thanks from all of us at VanValley
(ps.  Dont forget the survey...and thank you to all that have responded, great feedback so far!)

Photo: Brett Hitchins

Yellow cherry tomatoes

Week 6

Pickup Thursday 4-7pm

 News this week: 

News this week: 

First, sorry for the newsletter delay!  This was a busy week and nailing it down was a bit challenging.  A big Thank you goes out to those of you who were able to make it to the opening day of the Rondriso General Store!  For those of you who were not able – there is still time, check their site for store hours.  This week we want to highlight a few things regarding bulk orders, pickups as well begin our checkin process.   In addition this week continues with Processing Part 2 with a focus on Tomatoes.  We are beginning to prepare for launching our winter box which will begin in November and run for approximately 18 weeks.  We will be offering a modest yet diverse variety of produce to take you into spring so stay tuned for more information regarding this.

The Survey: The time is arrived.  As we head into our seventh week and start to looking toward the winter season, we want your feedback.  We are employing our online tools again to do this (simply click on the survey and you will go to it automatically).  Please take a moment – there will be prizes!  Winners will be announced in early September.  Deadline for submission is August 30.  Thank you.

Over the last few weeks we have received many questions regarding the fruit boxes.  Please feel free to bring your unstained little green boxes back to us or even better – bring containers to the pickup to transfer your fruits into.  We will reuse what containers we can (especially for our pickup specials).  Thank you!

Gelderman Blueberries

Bulk Orders

From the Farmers: We will need to introduce a 5lb minimum on all bulk orders (this also applies to units of transport).  For example, you want to get blueberries and bulk blueberries come in 5lb boxes.  If you are using your rollover credits and the calculation is that you have 7 lbs worth of blueberries available to you you can choose to get either 5 lbs and hold the credit for future orders or order 10lbs and pay the difference (which is $6.98).  We apologize for the confusion – however with the increased number of small orders the farmers and their staff have been finding filling our orders very time consuming and in order for the “bulk” price to be applied this is the process that is required.  Please simply discuss with us at pickup what you might be interested in and then remember to place your order allowing for processing time.

Rollover notes: The following are the credit amounts associated with each box size for one week.  Box A= $18.90 Box B= $31.50  Box C= $44.55  Box D= $44.55 (these totals are minus the 10% admin fee for the box program)

Week 5

Our friends: beets and bugs

Happy BC day long weekend! Hope everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine.

This week the newsletter is taking a little lighter approach.  We will begin what will likely become our “series” on preserving.  Part 1: Pickling will hopefully get folks into the pickling mood.  What goes better with a BBQ than some home made pickles to chase the charcoal!  Always a fan of outdoor eating, the focus here is on simple, fast and easy to transport.  I want to encourage all those pickling and preserving gurus out there – please send in your ideas (or post on facebook!  Dont forget the photos).  Our newsletter can house merely a fraction of the possibilities out there (we are also starting to put more recipes on the facebook page as well)!    Home preserving is a wonderful way to really know what you are eating and drawing out the gifts of summer (and not to mention of the amazing bounty in our region).  There is nothing better than in the middle of January to be able to unscrew a little bit of summer to have with a winter meal!

Photos this week (unless otherwise noted): Alanna MacLennan (hand Jesse Veenstra – weeding day!  what your beets used to look like)

Beet - the early years


For those of us who got to know and love Rondriso Farm’s beets last year, their abundant return in 2011 is very exciting. If you’re not a beet lover, take note that, with their delicate sweet flavour, Ron’s beets have been known to convert many skeptics.

Did you know?  

•                Beetroots and their leaves have been consumed as food, and used to make medicines, as far back as the ages of Babylon;

•                Beets belong to the same family of plants as other nutrition power houses, spinach, Swiss chard, and quinoa;

•                While some people avoid beets for their “high” sugar content, the garden beet actually contains less than 10% sugar;

•                Raw beets are rich in folate, which can become depleted during cooking. If you haven’t eaten raw beets, give them a try grated into your next salad;

•                Beets are particularly known for being a “heart-healthy” vegetable, thanks to their high amount of potassium which regulates blood pressure; as well as and the antioxidant glycine betaine, shown to reduce circulating levels of homocysteine (which can contribute to plaque formation in the blood vessels).

Proud papa

Proud papa

Spud Love

 Potatoes originated several centuries ago in South America. Because of their excellent shelf life they were prized by those on Spanish ships for their ability to prevent scurvy, thanks to their vitamin C content.

Unfortunately, potatoes have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. Several fad diets claim them responsible for excess weight gain, and some go further to say this delicious and versatile vegetable offers little to no nutritional value. In reality, the potato itself is not the offender, rather the common preparation methods (think deep fried, baked and loaded with excess butter, cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream…the list goes on).

While potatoes are high in carbohydrates, that’s not necessarily a bad thing when eaten in reasonable quantities, especially for active individuals. Carbohydrates are, with out a doubt, an essential energy source for both the body and mind. In addition, potatoes themselves contain no fat, are high in vitamin C, iron, potassium, several B-vitamins and, when eaten with the skin, fibre.

Further to their nutrition benefit, various preparations of potatoes are associated with celebratory meals in many cultures, allowing them to become almost universally recognized as a comfort food. And just as the nutrients provided by the food we eat are essential to health, so to are the comfort, enjoyment, and appreciation gained by eating those foods. So if you are a healthy-active individual don’t be afraid of the humble spud – go ahead and enjoy along with all those other delicious and healthy veggies in your VanValley box.

Week 4

Pickup Thursday 4-7pm

team parsons

team parsons

Summer has finally arrived!  We are celebrating with a cherry fiesta! This week they are the Bing variety.  Straight from the farm we have contributions and tidbits from the team (Morris, Yvonne and Quentin above) at Parsons.  In addition to wonderful fruit and vegetable crops they specialize in some amazing preserves and culinary concoctions (stay tuned for their garlic scape salt!  truly amazing).

On another note, blueberries from Gelderman farms and Lapin cherries will both be available for BULK purchase for next week’s pick up. Order yours for freezing, baking or to simply indulge now!

As we near months end, we have put together a bit of a longer newsletter to share some good news – regarding the wonderful and important role that Vancity has played in the realization of VanValley in addition to letting our membership know how you can assist in making VanValley an ongoing concern!

On a final note, there have been questions about member contributions of recipes and photos: Should you want to share, please send us your recipes and photos of things you make.  We would love to keep these things posted on our facebook! (page)

Thank you from the VanValley Team!

Creating a Sustainable VanValley

VanValley Corporate Package

VanValley Corporate Package

Up and running and into our second month, we are looking at our system and assessing how we are going to grow VanValley.  One of the unique ways that VanValley can increase its sustainability is in building the corporate Buying Club.  This is where we would like to call upon our membership: should you know of any restaurants, catering companies or other businesses that might be interested in bulk purchasing please let us know.

If you know of or have contacts with local establishments who are interested in sourcing from local, family farms please introduce us!  Our Corporate Buying Club has been designed to be very restaurant friendly and a unique way to get the small local family farmer connected to small(er) local businesses.  Note that through our wholesale division is ideal for businesses with orders over $150 per week, or for organizations with 10 or more box memberships delivery is available. Can’t beat that for convenience!

Thank you so much for all your support, enthusiasm and making VanValley a reality.

Vancity Helping VanValley to Build Community

We are excited to announce that, earlier this summer, Vancity awarded VanValley Food Connection with a development grant made possible through its enviroFundTM program.

The purpose of this grant is to allow for evaluation of the feasibility and

VanCity Set up

VanCity Set up

effectiveness of the VanValley mandate of farmer collaboration, enabling us to learn what can be improved upon, made sustainable and how the VanValley model may be successfully applied in other communities.  In addition, Vancity has also been welcomed us at the Main St. main and Cambie St. cambie branches for promotional sessions, included us in the online hub and promoted our program internally.

VanValley is different from other community supported agriculture (CSA) models in its mandate of farmer collaboration. Creating and building upon a network of small family run farms allows us to offer our membership a greater variety of locally, sustainably grown produce, while at the same time providing security and continued prosperity for the traditional family farm.

What Vancity’s support means for our members is that what we are working toward is the creation of a solid foundation upon which the VanValley platform can grow.  Integral to the sustainability of VanValley is keeping administrative costs to a minimum (currently a small – 10% – administrative fee is integrated into the box price), which will be done by creating operational systems that are as self-sufficient as possible, complemented by some member participation  (such as the self-directed sign-in process).

Throughout the summer, as part of our evaluation, we will be seeking feedback with respect to which systems work well, and which ones could be improved upon. While we will be occasionally sending requests for feedback, please feel free to contact us with comments or suggestions at any time.

Thank you Vancity!

Week 3

Pickup from 4-7pm

General Updates: We want to welcome a healthy handful of newcomers!  We encourage new members to check out our newsletters from week 1 and week 2 as well, please remember to check in at your first signin – making sure we have the right info and you are receiving our newsletters.  Just a reminder that I need to know any changes or additions to your order by noon on Monday.  Please also remember to bring your own bags to transfer your box contents into.  Everyone has been so tremendous with pickups being relatively seamless (with a few location confusions – sorry).  Thank you for all your wonderful feedback!    

PICKUP Special!  $4 Heads of Broccoli from Rondriso Farms.  Cash only and available at each location.

This week, a profile of our Cambie Location:

As last week we showcased the Marche St George we wanted to introduce our members to the Local Fresh Food Market, our Cambie pickup location.  The Local Food Fresh is a cooperatively operated grocer that focusses on BC grown and produced products.  It is a unique combination of entrepreneurs and farmers working together to bring you BC’s best – their goal being to have breakfast, lunch and dinner” right around the corner.   Key members of the Market’s team are VanValley farmers, Loren Taves, of the Applebarn, Quentin Parsons, of Parsons Farm and Jerry Gelderman, Geldermans Farm (whose blueberries you will soon be sweetly sampling). Check out a little multi-media moment about the  Local Fresh Food Market (courtesy of My Garden Footprint).

Thank you from all of us at VanValley and without further ado, to the recipes…

Week 2

(clicking on the week will get you to the online copy of the newsletter)


VanValley Team

VanValley Team

Meet VanValley: We are (L-R) Loren Taves, Ron Tamis, Alanna MacLennan & Quentin Parsons.

We made it!  Thank you everyone for making week 1 a great success.  With a few logistical exceptions, our first of 17 weekly pickups went off without a hitch.  A special thank you to all the volunteers and extra hands that came out to help!

This week we have a few surprises and of course seasonal treats…

Early Potatoes and a classic day of weeding.

Early Potatoes and a classic day of weeding.

New (or Early) Potatoes

Well, as we are all painfully aware this la nina year has darn near robbed us of our summer. Fortunately for us this soggy season hasn’t left us without beautiful, fresh local produce.

Thankfully we are lucky enough to enjoy sweet, firm pesticide and herbicide free early potatoes due to the tireless work of Ron Tamis, of Rondriso Farms. Ron and a team of dedicated folks have been down on their hands and knees weeding row upon row of potatoes this year to help control the weeds. Diligently cutting the potato tops to slow growth and checking the tasty little guys to bring us the early potatoes we know and love. These little nuggets have no “skin set” but instead have whisper thin skins that only add to the potatoes’ flavour and texture.

Try them boiled, slathered in butter with a dash of salt and pepper tossed with sautéed garlic scapes for  a clean delicious side.

VanValley Facebook

VanValley Facebook

VanValley and Social Media

Facebook: Currently our two main means of communication are our website and our facebook page. As we mentioned last week, our goal is to keep our weekly updates simple and ultimately rooted in our website.  Our facebook page is a forum for our members as well as where we will be creating more in depth galleries and having fun with VanValley goings on as well as linking to our community.  We will do our best to stay on top of your questions and encourage you to continue talking amongst yourselves!

We have created galleries for pickup highlightsproduce pixclassic farm moments and of course one for you to get to know VanValley  and also to catch Rondriso, Applebarn and Parsons in action.

We look forward to connecting with you, in person and through our multi-media means over the coming weeks.

In the Coming Week

Things to look out for
We will be profiling  our other pick-up our location, the Local Fresh Food Market and one of our restaurant members,  there will of course be more recipes and tips, along with some farmer tidbits!

Fashion Forward Weeding

Fashion Forward Weeding

Week 1

(clicking on the week will get you to the online copy of the newsletter)

Pick-up: Thursday July 7th (4-7pm)

Important First Pick-up Reminders:

Please come in with a few minutes to spare (if possible) 
In addition to picking up your goodies, at our first pick-up we will need to hand out membership cards, allow time for potential verification of membership information, and tying – up of any other loose ends.  Thank you in advance for your patience while we get things up and running smoothly.

Please remember to sign-in
Please note that weekly sign-in is essential, as it is our way of ensuring you have picked up your box each week. Sign-in sheets will be located at both pick-up locations and organized alphabetically according to box size. When you receive your box each week please remember to initial beside your name. Box sizes will be indicated on your membership card if you are unsure which one you have signed up for. If you have any questions about the sign-in process please feel free to ask any of our staff or volunteers.

Please BYOB (bring your own bags)
Please note that your weekly produce will be in a bin. Upon sign-in you will need to unload the contents into your own grocery bag(s), which will allow us to take the bins for washing and replenishing the following week.

A big Thank you from VanValley – we are excited to work with you over the summer/ fall season!  From Ron, Loren and Alanna.

Hot Produce Deal!

Heirloom Tomatoes
For those who are interested, through the Applebarn, we are able to offer a great deal on #2 Heirloom Tomatoes.
What are # 2s? These tomatoes are in no way bad.  Just a little on the softer side (needing to be processed right away), perhaps with some minor imperfection.
A great opportunity to bulk order a choice variety for canning, sauces etc!
$1.20 lb

Minimum 5lb order.

To place a bulk order through our Corporate division, pop us an email at vanvalley.info@gmail.com

Remember orders for next week need to be in by Monday noon.

In the Coming Week

Things to look out for
We will be profiling one of pick-up our locations, one of our restaurant members, another round of recipes and tips, along with some farmer surprises! Stay tuned


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