Miranda came home the other day saying she wants to be a farmer when she grows up. Fair enough – we’re in the right place!
Saskatchewan is Canada’s bread basket apparently – a lot of agriculture happens here in the Big Flat Spaces between towns. Abundant grain elevators. Last year at the Mustard festival, we learned that Saskatchewan is the largest exporter of mustard seed in the world. And then of course, Regina has it’s own Farmers’ Market. ( awaits jokes along the lines of “how do I farm Reginas?” from Mr Chapman) It is awesome. It gets bigger every week. Something like 13,000 people visit it on a week day morning. It wins awards.
Not every market vendor is actually a farmer. I don’t think the bread guy grows his own wheat, and I don’t think the pastry people grind their own flour..and as for me, um… well anyway, everything is made locally at least. All the vegetable vendors grow their produce locally, and it is all the better for it. There’s even a cheese stall with my favourite goats cheese from their goat farm, and a man selling meat from his ranch, who originated from Cumbria, England. Although I am not a farmer, the market has welcomed my coffee business with open arms and empty travel mugs. It would be seriously difficult to cultivate and farm coffee in Saskatchewan anyway. But, I brew it here, straight in front of local Saskatchewinians, and more importantly, Bill roasts it here too. I feel like we fit in.
Lacking the appropriate >800m above sea level altitude, the climate that never drops below 18C and the required humidity means I can’t farm coffee here, but to my surprise, I have actually managed to grow vegetables here – and not just any vegetables, MUTANT MARROWS. Apparently courgettes and marrows are both called Zucchini in Canada, but I mean excessively large tubular green things anyway. One little project I’ve been working on when I’m not at beer club/poetry slams or either of my two jobs, is gardening. Marianne and I have been tending a small plot in the local community gardens (allotments, to UK folk), and under her tutelage, I’ve managed not to kill anything (an amazing achievement!). Our veg even survived numerous storms and the wettest summer anyone can remember. I have been eaten alive by mosquitoes down there, so I feel my blood sacrifices may have been beneficial to the mutant generation process.
Who would have thought this:
– could produce this?
I should point out, that is one Mega Marrow of Many. One was so large I couldn’t get it home on my bike. I’ve made zucchini pasta sauce, zucchini gratin, stuffed zucchini, deep fried zucchini, zucchini Thai green curry, zucchini stir fry and zucchini relish. Marianne made zucchini chocolate cake too, and I even gave away seven of the buggers to people at work. And both Marianne and I still have several of them in our freezers.
I NEVER WANT TO SEE A ZUCCHINI/MARROW/COURGETTE EVER AGAIN!!!!
My neighbouring stall on the market last week was Scandinavian Sweethearts, who make amazing pickles with homegrown veg. The Scandinavian sweetheart told me she had over 300lb of cucumbers this year. I can sympathise, but then, she is intentionally growing them in bulk. Ours were… not intentionally so oversized… Mind you, it seems to be a Saskatchewan trend this year. Market Manager Ada has been spotted modelling a huge cabbage on her head. Perhaps this is what happens to you if you spend too long in the company of Regina Farmers….?