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.
With the recent stretch of sunny days we’ve been having (yay summer!), all kinds of delicious fruits and veggies are starting to appear in stalls around the markets. One sure sign of warmer weather is the arrival of summer squash, those beefy, green and yellow gems that make a budget-savvy addition to your summer pastas, salads, and BBQ fixings.
Cara Abrahams from Abundant Acres Family Farm in Chilliwack recommends marinating the squash with oil, vinegar, and garlic for 30 mins before cooking it on the barbecue in a grill basket. She and her husband Andy grow several varieties of summer squash, which they sell at their stall on Thursdays at the Downtown Farmers Market.
One of her favourite ways to preserve the abundance of these famously productive plants is by pickling them, mixing the different varieties in a single jar to make for an attractive display in your winter larder.
Next up on the seasonal roster is green peas – those amazing morsels of summer sweetness that taste best when you pop them straight out of the pod and into your mouth.
“I’m lazy and I like to eat them raw, ” says Andrea Wilkins y Martínez, farm director at Sole Food Street Farms. Among many other crops, Martínez and her team grow sugar snap peas just a couple blocks away from where they sell them each Wednesday at Main St. Station Farmers Market.
Whether you prefer English, snow, or snap varieties, green peas are amazingly versatile and packed with nutrients. North Vancouver-based holistic nutritionist Vanessa Vorbach uses shelled peas she sources from the markets to make a fresh pea hummus that’s a nice change from regular chickpea dips.
“I have a lot of clients who complain that chickpea hummus makes them bloated, so this recipe offers a great alternative,” says Vorbach. “Green peas are also rich in protein and compared to chickpeas, have less carbohydrates, fat and are overall lower in calories. On top of that, you get plenty of Vitamin A, C and minerals, such as Manganese and Magnesium”. She also recommends adding fresh peas to smoothies for a sweet and creamy protein boost – pow!
Fresh Pea Hummus
by Vanessa Vorbach
2 cups fresh shelled peas
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup of your favourite fresh herb. Dill, parsley, cilantro, basil or mint work great!
1-2 gloves of garlic
salt, pepper to taste
Optional: Dijon mustard
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add peas. Cook for about 2 minutes, drain and rinse them with cold water.
2. Add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse for about 30 minutes. Add a bit of water or oil if you like the consistency on the creamier side.
3. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Add more garlic, salt, or lemon to taste and some pepper
– as a dip with sliced cucumbers, carrots, celery, apple
– for sandwiches or lettuce wraps on a flatbread with grilled vegetables
– as a pesto with zucchini noodles, olives and capers
– on a sweet potato toast with sliced avocado
Looking for you closest neighbourhood farmers market? Visit our homepage for a complete listing of our seven summer location!
New crops are hitting the market every week thanks to the sun and just enough rain on the fields. Here is this week’s Fresh Box contents:
Heirloom Tomatoes – Taves Family Farm – some boxes got two small ones, some got one larger one.
Fennel – One Love Farm – I couldn’t leave these beauties out of the box this week – so tender and fresh. Shave them into a salad or on top of whatever you’re eating – so good!
Strawberries – Douglas Farm – Coral Anne Douglas only grows strawberries on her small family farm in Mission. Eat these first as local berries are picked ripe so they don’t last long!
French Breakfast Radishes – SOLE Food Farms – radishes are having a great year and who doesn’t like a few in a salad or eat them with butter or as a filling for finger sandwiches. Pinkies up!
Buttercrunch Lettuce – Abundant Acre Farm – the greens from this farm are always delectable and make the best salads.
Mini Cucumbers – Abundant Acre Farm – mini versions of the long english cukes you see in the stores – these are super fresh but if you store them, keep them in plastic so they don’t lose their moisture.
English Peas – Nature Village Farm – I might have forgotten to list these on your insert this week but don’t overlook these lovelies. English peas are shelling peas, meaning the pod isn’t meant to be eaten (although some do). Sprinkle into pasta or in risotto – they don’t need more than a few moments in the heat to bring out their best – or eat them straight from the pod for an alfresco treat.
Order your July 6th Fresh Box online HERE.
Stawberries | Garlic Scapes | Lettuce | Turnips | Radishes | Peas | Eggs | Chicken | Raspberries | Mushrooms | Herbs | Kale | Cucumbers | Seafood | Collard Greens | Carrots | Cheese
CHECK OUT OUR IN SEASON AT THE MARKETS BLOG FOR A FULL MARKET FRESH GUIDE.
CLICK HERE FOR THIS WEEK’S FULL KITSILANO VENDOR LIST
Product Features – Raspberries and Fresh Sockeye
This week at least two farms will have their first week of raspberries! Both in Abbotsford and family run, Paul’s Produce and Fresh Quality Produce will have some. Not sure how fast they’ll sell out, so come early!
Blue Comet Seafoods will be bringing fresh sockeye fillets from the Nass Region this weekend. Skippers Tony and Sasha have been selling at the Vancouver Farmers Markets for over 10 years and have been fishing for a combined 75 years between the two of them!
Opening Day for Riley Park – June 24th
Don’t forget to check out the newest market, Riley Park, across the street from the Nat Bailey winter market location. Saturdays, 10am-2pm, this weekend will have opening day festivities at 10am including cake!
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 – *NEW* opens 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.
The Weekend Starts Now!
Finally a Thursday with some sunshine! Extra big thanks to all those who came to the market on one of the wet days – it makes all the difference! Don’t forget we’re rain or shine!
With the weekend weather also looking great – stock up on Thursday for all the fresh farm-to-table goods you need for your weekend bbq, beach picnics, or if you’re escaping the city – cherries and berries make for great road trip snacks!
Join us on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza (650 Hamilton St.) from 11-3pm! Our new market hours make it convenient to shop for the weekend ahead but also grab a bite to eat at the market. We’ll have great lunch options at one of the food trucks on site each week and afternoon snacks like coffee, cookies, cherries, berries, snap peas and much more!
This week we welcome Mandalay Burmese Kitchen exclusively to the Downtown Farmers Market! Their bringing authentic Burmese eats – don’t miss out on their tasty Fish Tacos or Hanglay Curry! We’ve also got Cheeses Crust back bringing their signature Bacon Bomb and Cheeses Steak! Make sure to pick up a Loyalty Lunch Card from the market info tent and every 8th lunch is on us!
Strawberries & Cherries! Both at the market this week! Start your summer off right with these sweet, juicy treats! Check out what your local farmers are expecting to bring to market this month HERE!
Meet our Farmers:
Douglas Farms – We’re happy to welcome Douglas Farms back to the Downtown Market this year after the slow start for strawberries! Coral-Anne will have delicious sweet strawberries and eggs coming from the Fraser Valley.
Rai Produce – a family farm that has been farming for 22 years, located in Osoyoos B.C. They grow all kinds of tasty fruit including Cherries, Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Prunes, Pears and Apples. This week they’ll be bringing their rainier cherries! You won’t want to miss them!
GET A COMPLETE LIST OF THIS WEEK’S DOWNTOWN MARKET VENDORS HERE
Downtown Farmers Market Fresh Box
No time to shop? Don’t miss out on the fresh stuff – order a FreshBox, our weekly market CSA program. $25 per week, packed and ready to go home with you!
Looking ahead at a busy week? With a Downtown Farmers Market Fresh Box you’ll get a market shopping trip done in 5 minutes. Pickup is Thursday at the Downtown Vancouver Farmers Market and you can order online until 5pm on Tuesdays.
We do the picking and all you have to do is enjoy!