The way that food is grown and consumed has come to the forefront over the past few years. As consumers, we’re more conscious about where, and rather, who we’re buying our food from.
Thankfully, the community of Chilliwack has a local farming business that follows strict organic farming practices that challenge the societal pressures of seasonality, sprays, sustainability, and more – and they encourage other local businesses to do the same.
MEET THE MAKERS
So, what’s this farming business we speak of – and who’s behind it, you ask?
Meet Dan and Helen Oostenbrink – founders of The Local Harvest Market, and Makers of food.
Dan and Helen each have had unique journeys that lead them to where they are today, and those journeys have allowed them to combine their unique skillsets to run an intentional farming business in present day.
Before Local Harvest was born, the idea of a market garden was conceived in the minds of Dan and Helen when they lived at their old place on Fairfield Island. A large garden, a flock of chickens, turkeys and the resulting surplus food allowed them to sell food to the neighbours. Or rather, their kids were sent door to door with a cart brimming with fresh produce and eggs.
When a chunk of land became available near Highway 1 on Lickman Road in Chilliwack, Dan and Helen jumped at the opportunity to make their dream a reality and farm for a living with a market on site. At the time, Dan was a teacher and Helen cared for their home and kids. Together, they had a very full and happy life that had no need for interruption – yet, something inside was calling them to shake things up, and start a new chapter in their story. And so… they did!
When Dan and Helen made the move to the farm, they went from living in a cozy yet spacious house with 5 kids, to living in a cramped mobile home (you can imagine this was a little difficult!). Over time, Dan, Helen and the kids found their way and made their living situation work.
Like any business, Dan and Helen have faced their ups and downs over the years. But, their view on ups and downs is simple: they can only make you stronger and teach you important lessons to guide future success. Today, their business reflects the lessons they’ve learned over the years, and their commitment to growing more variety and the best tasting, most nutritious food.
Today, Dan, Helen, their kids and The Local Harvest Market are all thriving, and they are allowing our community to do the same by carving a new path for sustainable, responsible food consumption. Each of their kids have grown to own a piece of the business and take responsibility for something impactful on the farm.
Their son, Dustin and his fiancé Rachel run the bakery. Their daughter Courtney works in the market. Dallas is in charge of greenhouse production, Daniel manages their herd of pigs, and Kayla (who is only 11!) makes a delicious nut butter. When an entire family is involved in a business, you know there’s a lot of love and care put into it.
SO, WHAT’S THE LOCAL HARVEST MARKET ALL ABOUT?
The Local Harvest is a family owned and operated farm that grows and sells produce, and features other local products. It’s a place that allows you to deepen your understanding of local, organically grown, nutrient rich products, and creates a transparent environment for consumers. It’s a place that you can shake the farmer’s hand. A place to grab a slice of hand-made pizza (with farm fresh toppings!) with your family on a Saturday afternoon. A place that provides ingredients that you can feel good about cooking with and feeding you and your family. A place of belonging. A place of growth.
WHAT MAKES THE LOCAL HARVEST UNIQUE?
The Local Harvest’s method of farming is very unique, and almost unheard of in this day and age. On their expansive market garden they use no sprays or synthetic fertilizers, rely mainly on manual labour and grow a wide range of seasonal fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers. Bio-diversity helps keep pests populations in balance by attracting birds and beneficial predatory insects and it adds to the aesthetics of the farm.
They are very particular about the products they bring into their store and keep companies accountable to following strict growing and processing practices as well.
The Local Harvest has learned lessons about trust, transparency and reliability – ones that don’t come easy yet are rich in experiential teachings. Today, these lessons fuel their core values of doing the right thing, always. Being able to shake their customers, or rather, neighbours’ hands and feel confident in the food they produce is of utmost importance to them.
People travel from all over the lower mainland to purchase their food as they are some of the most pure, nutrient rich, healing fruits and vegetables that money can buy. They’ve seen customers come through with cancer and other diseases who rely heavily on their products. These customers have confidence in the quality of food that Local Harvest provides and are appreciative for the healing and nourishing affects of the food on their body.
Something about a carrot picked from the field behind their store just tastes so much better than the rest. The combination of healthy soil and seasonal picking to ensure freshness takes it to another level.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE LOCAL HARVEST?
For one thing, more events! The Local Harvest intends to up the frequency in which they host events and tours on their farm. Plus, they want to encourage people to book a tour of their very own – whether it be a school, corporate group, or otherwise, there’s something for everyone. The Local Harvest also tells us that they’ll be planning more gardening education classes to help educate the public on how to grow their own food, which we’re pretty excited about!
Longer term, they hope to find ways to store and process their food for extended seasonality of fruits and vegetables – which means more preserves, pickles, jams, jellies, and chutneys produced with ingredients from their farm.
Even further down the line, there’s a dream on their list to open up a restaurant on their farm, and only use ingredients grown in their fields. It doesn’t get much fresher, or local than that!
WHAT SHOULD I PLAN FOR WHEN VISITING THE LOCAL HARVEST?
Plan to pick up a selection of locally grown seasonal fruits, veggies and ingredients, and be helped by their smiling staff! We recommend stopping by on a Saturday, as they make pizza from scratch from 11- 2 pm—dough, toppings and all. You don’t want to miss out!
PLAN YOUR NEXT VISIT
Join us the for a magical evening at The Local Harvest Market!
We would like to invite you to taste the most seasonal and fresh produce available straight from the gardens at The Local Harvest. Enjoy an edible walking tour, fresh wood fire oven pizzas paired with local beer from our friends at Old Yale Brewing and learn the importance and benefits of where your food comes from.
Event Date: Thursday June 20th, 2019, from 6-9pm.
Tickets on sale now. Adults: $50
This event is for adults only. Tickets include:
・Edible Walking Tour with Farmer Dan from The Local Harvest
・Featured Family Style Pizza paired with Old Yale beer tasters & Seasonal Salad from the farm
・A cash bar will be available with Old Yale Beer
・The Local Harvest store will be open for purchasing of products later in the evening
Tickets are limited and ticket sales close June 13th, 2019. Please note, you must have a ticket and be 19+ to attend.
Click here to get your tickets!
Visit www.thelocalharvest.ca to learn more – and as always, tag us in your #ShareChilliwack moments.
Curious to see who our next Maker will be? Keep an eye on our Instagram page to find out (hint: what rhymes with floor looms?)