As winter comes around and trips to apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and corn mazes get crossed off the calendar, we tend to feel like farm fresh food is no longer a viable option. While it can be a little more challenging to get your hands on local food in the winter, plenty of farmers in the Fraser Valley are producing farm fresh goods all year long.
To help you navigate the local food scene this winter, we’ve asked three resident experts for their top farm fresh food of the season and where to get it.
Jenn Cornish, owner and head chef at the Water Shed Arts Cafe, is passionate about using locally sourced, organic food in all of her creations. With connections to a dozen local farmers, she knows how to get her hands on winter kale when she needs it.
Charlotte Lepp and her husband Rob have lived their whole lives as farmers. They now own and run Lepp Farm Market, one of Abbotsford go-to destinations for farm fresh produce, meat, and dairy.
Bonnie Friesen, the owner and founder of Faspa and Co., founded her business on the principle that “cooking locally and in season connects us to a rich communal heritage”. This philosophy has led her to create delicious menu items, host multi-course dinner parties, cater canapé events, and teach cooking classes.
Check out the top four ways these three experts enjoy a farm fresh winter in the Fraser Valley.
According to Bonnie, fresh herbs are essential to brightening up any hearty winter meal. “Woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage grow heartily in the garden long into the winter” said Bonnie, “and if harvested before the snow, will store well in the fridge for weeks.”
Jenn uses a number of fresh leafy greens sourced from local greenhouses in her recipes at the Water Shed Arts Cafe. She explains, “It’s amazing because all year around you can have these fresh delicious greens.” She also loves using winter kale. “Winter kale is some of the most incredible kale you can get.”
If you’re looking to get some of your own winter greens be sure to stop by a local farm like, Maan Farms or a farm market like Ralph’s Farm Market, Local Harvest Market, Lepp Farm Market, or Hofstede’s Country Barn.
At first, it seemed a little bit like cheating, but after all three of our experts mentioned it, we began to see where they were coming from. Opening up a can of locally sourced summer produce in the winter can be extremely satisfying. Foods like pears, peaches, apples, jam, and tomato sauce can all be enjoyed in the winter with a little planning in the summer. “One of the best things in the dead of winter,” said Bonnie, “is to open up a home-canned jam, tomato sauce or peach preserve that you put up in the summertime.” But it does take a little bit of planning. Charlotte explains, “The best way to eat local in winter is to plan ahead in summer! Canning and freezing are making a big comeback as locally sourced food becomes more important to people.”
If you didn’t get a chance to can any of the Fraser Valley’s produce this summer or you’re visiting the area, places like Krause Berry Farm, Lepp Farm Market, JD Farms, and Maan Farms have canned goods available for purchase. You can also get local frozen berries, fresh picked in the summer, from Krause Berry Farm and Bergen Farm.
Save the light salads with fresh fruit and walnuts for your summer patio. In winter, it’s all about filling up with a hearty meal. If you’re a meat eater, using locally sourced meat to make a hearty meal might be exactly what your body is craving. “Our bodies tend to crave richer, heartier foods in the winter,” said Bonnie, “to warm us up.” Charlotte agrees, “Winter cooking is all about hearty stews and braises.”
Lepp Farm Market has fresh and local meat available all year long. All their animals are raised “without the use of routinely administered antibiotics, no added growth hormones and all vegetable diets,” said Bonnie. If you’re looking to hone your skills in preparing meat, you can also try your hand at a cooking class. Both Faspa and Co. and Lepp Farm Market offer a variety of cooking classes that help you use locally sourced meat to make delicious meals. Lepp Farm Market even has a Bacon Day where they infuse almost everything on their menu with their own delicious bacon.
Root vegetables are another perfect ingredient to use in the nourishing meals you crave this season. Endorsed by all three of our experts, root vegetables are probably the best farm fresh food to pick up in the Fraser Valley this winter. One of the reasons for their success in the winter is that root vegetables are able to sit in cool place with low light and stay fresh before being sold.
Jenn’s top pick for farm fresh winter produce is squash, but you can also find carrots, potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips and much more. Check out a full list on the BC Farm Fresh website. Check out local farm markets to pick up some veggies or try out the Water Shed Arts Cafe to get them folded into irresistible recipes like stuffed acorn squash.
Photo via @watershedcafe
The winter chill doesn’t stop the Fraser Valley from producing delicious food—taste some of the best at a local farm (like the Lepp Farm Market) or at a restaurant (like Faspa and Co. and Water Shed Arts Cafe) that uses local farm fresh food. Then plan the rest of your trip to the Fraser Valley with the help of our trip planner.