Jasbir Mandair has been coming to VFM markets since early 2016, and currently sells her berries, mixed vegetables, and hot pakoras at Riley Park, Trout Lake, Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, and Main St. Station Markets.
She has been growing commercially in British Columbia since 1983, but her farming roots go much deeper to a childhood spent on her family’s farm in the Punjab. VFM staffers recently had the opportunity to talk with her and tour the farm she runs with her son Sajan in Abbotsford.
Q: Both you and your husband Surinder were born into farming in India. Can you tell us what part of India you’re from, and what kinds of crops your families grew?
A: We farmed in the Punjab. My village was a place called Akara in district Jhalandar, and my husband was from Ghari Baksha. We grew corn, wheat, rice, and sugar cane.
Q: How does farming in India differ from farming in BC?
A: Farming in India was different for two reasons. First, the technology of the time period back in the 60s meant everything was still done by hand and animals such as oxen. Even the watering was done manually – we used to have big wells and the water was drawn by a chain attached to a bucket.
The second difference was the crops themselves – they are completely different from growing and harvesting berries. You cut the wheat at the base and put into bundles; the grain was used for food and the straw remaining was used for feed for the animals. With berries, you pick it and pack it into boxes, but you leave the plant untouched.
Q: What is the most difficult thing about farming in BC?
A: BC is the best place for farming, there is no real difficulty… the weather is good, land is good, water is absolutely the best.
The difficulty is in the work of the farm and finding labor, since the new generation isn’t interested to work on the farm. The other difficulty is selling the product to actually make a living. We can have a really good crop but the price that is paid from the cannery is sometimes not even enough to make ends meet. The profit margin isn’t there – the blueberry can be absolutely amazing but the processor barely pays anything for them.
Q: How many family members are involved in the Mandair operation?
A: There are about 5-30, very dependent on the crop and how much it is producing, and the time of the year. We currently have 5 core “staff members” – my son Sajan, his fiancé Veerpal Kingra and her sister Ramneek, Dildar Virdi, and myself. Now that we have raspberry, we have about 20-25 pickers that come to pick by hand.
Q: What’s your favourite crop to grow?
A: I love all three berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) that we grow but if I had to pick a favourite, I would say strawberries!
Mandair Farms are also known for their great selection of market vegetables, including the popular Punjabi ingredient called Tinde, or apple gourd. Here’s how Jasbir prepares them at home…
Mandair Farms-style Tinde
6 apple gourds, cut into 4-6 pieces
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, cut fine or minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. tumeric
Salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté onion, garlic, ginger, and cumin on medium heat for one minute in a teaspoon of cooking oil.
- Add the tomato, tumeric, salt and pepper into the sauté mix and cook for 5-6 minutes on medium low heat.
- Add in the apple gourd and cook until they are soft. For a more pasty sauce, add 1/4-1/2 cup of water.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or roti. Also try stuffing it into a tortilla with some sour cream for a delicious, plant-based lunch.
You can find Mandair Farms weekly at Main St. Station, Riley Park, Trout Lake, Kitsilano, and Mount Pleasant Markets. To search for their complete market schedule, click here.
This week’s Fresh Box contained:
Mixed Kale Bunch – Abundant Acre Farm, Abbotsford
Mini Romaine Lettuce – One Love Farm, Lillooet
Broccolini – One Love Farm – cook like broccoli or like most greens, sauté with garlic and olive oil
Mini Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Patty Pan Squash – Abundant Acre Farm
Cherries – Rai Farms, Osoyoos
Tomatoes – Campari, red cherry or mini Romas – Taves Family Farm, Abbotsford
It’s too hot to cook! Make some tomato, basil and mozzarella skewers or a fresh salad with the romaine lettuce and perhaps a strawberry vinaigrette.
Headed on a road trip around BC this summer? We included a brochure listing farmers across the province – a great piece to keep in the glove compartment.
Cherries | Garlic Scapes | Lettuce | Turnips | Radishes | Peas | Eggs | Chicken | Raspberries | Mushrooms | Herbs | Kale | Cucumbers | Seafood | Collard Greens | Zucchini | Carrots | Cheese | Blackberries
Check out our In Season at the Markets blog to read about peas and summer squash!
CLICK HERE FOR THIS WEEK’S FULL KITSILANO VENDOR LIST
Electro Recycle is ready to accept over 300 small appliances while you shop the best in local flavours at Kitsilano Farmers Market. Have recycling questions? Ask their friendly staff onsite located near the information booth! For what they can accept please visit their website at electrorecycle.ca/
AMS Bike Co-op
Get your bike tuned while you shop around the market with the UBC Bike Co-Op’s Cycling Resource Centre! The Bike Co-Op also collects bike accessory donations (bike lights, helmets, bells etc) for their Bici Libre program. Find out more about their program here.
Vendor Feature – Spread’Em Kitchen
SPREAD’EM! is a dip and spread company based in Vancouver. Using locally sourced produce and a simplistic whole-foods approach, they provide maximum flavour with no harmful additives or preservatives. These dips can be used cold for dipping crackers or veggies at parties, the beach, or a as a lunchtime snack!
Summer Market Schedules
- Trout Lake – Saturdays 9am-2pm – North Parking Lot, John Hendry Park
- West End – Saturdays 9am-2pm – 1100 Block of Comox St.
- Mt Pleasant – Sundays 10am-2pm – Dude Chilling Park, 8th & Guelph
- Main St Station – Wednesdays 2pm-6pm – Near Main St. Skytrain
- Downtown – Thursdays 11am-3pm – Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza
- Riley Park – Saturdays June 24, 10am-2pm – 50 East 30th Ave.
Get a complete list of this week’s Kitsilano Market vendors here.
Discover our six other summer market locations on our Markets Page.
We have an awesome lineup this week again at the Riley Park Farmers Market! Come spend your sunny Saturday in beautiful Riley Park and enjoy the sounds of our buskers, the chance to connect with your community and the variety of fresh local food! Looking forward to seeing you on the plaza.
What’s in Season:
arugula, baby bok choi, basil, beans, beets, bell peppers, blueberries, carrots, cabbage, chard, cherries, collards, cucumber, dill, eggplant, garlic, green peas, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, pickling cucumber, potatoes, radish, raspberries, rhubarb, salad greens, shallots, spinach, strawberries, turnips, winter squash, zucchini
CHECK OUT OUR IN SEASON BLOG FOR RECIPES AND COOKING TIPS FEATURING PRODUCE THAT’S IN SEASON NOW!
Make Sure to Check out:
Mandair Farms – They have blueberries! Come early to get them!
Odd Society Spirits for some small-batch craft spirits distilled in the heart of East Van
The Smallflower for some delicious baked goods that are 100% gluten free!
GET A COMPLETE LIST OF THIS WEEK’S RILEY PARK VENDORS HERE
The UBC Nutrition Research Program will be at the market on Saturday. Do you have a toddler under 18 months old? Stop by the booth to learn more about their study on the nutrition needs of young children! For more info click here!
Summer Markets Are Open!
Trout Lake – Saturdays 9am-2pm –North Parking Lot of John Hendry Park
Kitsilano – Sundays 10am-2pm – 10th Ave. & Larch St.
West End – Saturdays 9am-2pm – 1100 Block of Comox St.
Mt Pleasant – Sundays 10am-2pm – Dude Chilling Park, 8th & Guelph
Downtown – Thursdays 11am-3pm – Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza
Riley Park – *NEW* opens June 24, Saturdays 10am-2pm – 50 East 30th Ave.
VISIT US AT THE RILEY PARK PLAZA (50 E 30th AVE), EVERY SATURDAY, 10AM-2PM, UNTIL OCTOBER 7TH
FIND MORE INFORMATION ON THE RILEY PARK LOCATION HERE
DISCOVER OUR SIX OTHER SUMMER MARKET LOCATIONS ON OUR MARKETS PAGE.
Blueberries | Garlic Scapes | Raspberries | Salad Greens | Summer Squash | Chard | Green Peas | Radishes | Potatoes | Eggs | Cheese| Seafood | Honey…Check out the full IN SEASON LIST HERE!
Make sure to also read the latest In Season blog post that features green peas and summer squash. Check it out for cooking tips and a delicious fresh pea hummus recipe!
Do you make a great pie?
Berry fest – It’s almost time again to celebrate our annual Berry Festival at Main st. and Mount Pleasant Markets Yay! There will be tons of fun Berry related activities for all! We will be hosting a Berry Tasting, Kids Activities and of course our BC Berry Pie Contest!
Main St Farmers Market (No Pie Contest) – Wednesday July 12th from 2pm to 6pm
Mount Pleasant Farmers Market (Pie Contest Day) – Sunday July 16th from 10am to 2pm
Do you, or do you know someone who makes the best berry pie this side of the Fraser? Please sign up and or spread the word. Competitors are encouraged to source their Berries on Wednesday (July 12th) at the Main St Market (No Pie contest at Main St. Market) to use for their Pie Entries at Mount Pleasant on Sunday July 16th. We’ve got great prizes this year – 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will all go home with a berry related something!
Did you know that Mt P regular vendor Salt and Harrow are now Certified Organic! A long road and a lot of work…Congrads you guys:)
Help welcome NEW vendor to MT P market Savory Sausage! All of their handcrafted sausages are blended with fresh milled spices and herbs, premium cuts of locally raised Fraser Valley meat are then mixed to create the freshest tasting sausage available. Yum!
Summer Market Schedules
Trout Lake – opened May 6, 9am-2pm – North Parking Lot, John Hendry Park
Kitsilano – opened May 7, 10am-2pm – 10th Ave. & Larch St.
Mt Pleasant – opened May 28, 10am-2pm – Dude Chilling Park, 8th & Guelph
Main St Station – opened May 31, 2pm-6pm – Near Main St. Skytrain
Downtown – opened June 1, 11am-3pm – Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza
Riley Park – opened June 24, 10am-2pm – 50 East 30th Ave.