Eating local and farm fresh is a regular part of Fraser Valley living. Our location gives us unlimited access to local farmer’s markets and produce grown just down the street.
We wanted to give you the inside scoop: the best places to buy it, the best ways to prepare it, and the real benefit of buying farm fresh.
We asked a local expert—no one knows the Fraser Valley land like Kelsey Siemens, better known as The Farmer’s Daughter. This Abbotsford local has been picking apples and working at her family farm, Willow View Farms, since she was just a kid. After graduating university, it didn’t take her long to realize that working full-time with her family at the farm was everything she wanted.
Seven years ago, she decided to bring her love for farming and food to the rest of the world with her blog, The Farmer’s Daughter. It has exploded among locals in the Fraser Valley as she combines her locally-sourced ingredients with her knack for creative new recipes and beautiful aesthetics.
We asked her a few questions about farming, blogging, and all that the Fraser Valley has to offer.
Kelsey: As a farmer myself, I know how underappreciated farming can be. Many people don’t value the amount of hard work and stress that farmers endure, and are always looking for the cheapest deal. Buying local and supporting your local farmers is such a great way to ensure that farmers get a fair wage, and it helps support the local economy. Plus, buying from the farm just tastes better! Your food hasn’t been on a truck for a week and is actually picked at perfect ripeness. That’s a win-win situation in my book.
Things taste better when fresh, there’s no doubt about it. And the feeling of accomplishment when you serve your own produce at the dinner table is awesome. During the fall harvest season, my family often has entire meals where everything on the table came from our own fields. That’s a pretty cool feeling for sure.
The Fraser Valley is such a rich place for growing so many different fruits and veggies. From apples and pumpkins, to raspberries or tulips, there is so much diversity. It seems as though more and more people are interested in farming lately, and it’s been so great to see the buy local movement grow!
I often buy in bulk when things are in season, and then freeze them for myself to eat throughout the winter. Some things like potatoes and winter squash store well throughout the winter, if you have the storage space. Herbs like rosemary are hardy and last throughout the winter, and there are several greens such as winter cabbage and kale that are available in the colder months.
The truth is that it’s impossible to always stay farm fresh throughout the off-season. Supporting local markets in the off-season even when they can’t stock local produce is still important, and BC Hot House products are another great way to buy local in winter.
Rhubarb is definitely my go-to ingredient that I use in spring. It has the earliest harvest of any of our produce, and I’m in love with the unique, tart flavour. Rhubarb coffee cakes, scones, and pies are among my favourite things to bake, and I even make rhubarb juice on occasion!
I’m going to be incredibly biased and say our farm, Willow View Farms. We’re open from mid-August until February or March, and sell apples, plums, pears, pumpkins, corn, potatoes, squash, gourds, garlic, and more. We also press our own fresh apple cider, and sell a few other locally made treats in our country store.
Nature’s Pickin’s is another great spot in the valley. They sell local meat, as well as local fruit and veggies whenever possible throughout the seasons. Neufeld Farms, Lepp Farm Market, and Rempel’s Meats are all great stores as well.
Lastly, the Farm and Country Market in downtown Abbotsford just a few blocks from my place, which is a great place to pick up amazingly fresh fruit and veggies during the summer months!
Want to find out more about staying farm fresh in the valley? You can use our trip planner to explore all the Fraser Valley has to offer or you can just check out our favourite places to buy farm fresh (even in the winter).
Photos from @thefarmersdaughter