Market News

Q & A with Jasbir of Mandair Farms

Jasbir cooking up her famous veggie pakoras onsite at the market

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…

Tinde, aka apple gourd
© FoodFellas4You

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



  1. Sauté onion, garlic, ginger, and cumin on medium heat for one minute in a teaspoon of cooking oil.
  2. Add the tomato, tumeric, salt and pepper into the sauté mix and cook for 5-6 minutes on medium low heat.
  3. Add in the apple gourd and cook until they are soft. For a more pasty sauce, add 1/4-1/2 cup of water.
  4. 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.

In Season: Green Peas & Summer Squash

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.

Summer squash varieties include (l to r) zephyr, costata romanesco, cousa, patty pan, zucchini, and eight ball. Photo: Abundant Acres Family Farm

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.


Snap pea harvesting at Sole Food Street Farms, currently North America’s largest urban farm project. Photo: Sole Food Street Farms

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!

© Vanessa Vorbach

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

Serving options:

–        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

For more seasonal, market-inspired recipes, make sure to check out Vanessa’s blog or follow her on Instagram @vanessavorbach!

Looking for you closest neighbourhood farmers market? Visit our homepage for a complete listing of our seven summer location!

What's Fresh at Mt Pleasant Market-Oct 9th

Be sure to come by for the last Mt P Market of the season, it’s a perfect chance to stock up on your Thanksgiving menu needs!

What’s in season:


apples, artichokes, beets, basil, beans, bell peppers, melon,  bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, corn, cucumber, dill, eggplant, fennel, garlic, gem squash, green onions, head lettuce, herbs, honey dew, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mint, mushrooms, napa cabbage, onions, potatoes, pears, radishesraspberries, salad mix, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, winter squash, zucchini

We have all the produce you need to make this delish stew:



3 large tomatoes, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 kabocha squash, peeled & seeded and roughly chopped

1 cup chopped bok choy

1 bunch spinach or kale (if using kale chop into bite sized pieces)

1 ear corn

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped

1 tbsp garam masala

2 tbsp KICS lemon syrup

1/2 cup AJI

Chicken or vegetable stock


Place the above ingredients in a slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on low for 4 hours. Check the stew after 4 hours and add either chicken or vegetable stock. The amount depends on how much liquid is in the slow cooker. Start with 1⁄2 a cup and add more if needed. At this point, you can also add 1 drained tin of chickpeas or lentils. Cook another 2-3 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

This can also be made on the stove. The cooking time will be approximately 1 hour.
This recipe is great to have on hand as you can use any combination of vegetables you like. Make a big batch and store it in 8 or 16 oz containers in the freezer. You can turn it into soup simply by adding chicken or vegetable stock. Use it as a filling for wraps. Serve it over rice.

Thanks for the great recipe Karen Curtis (Kics Lemonade) 


Do you see these helpful signs around the market? Let us know! Try something new for dinner tonight, grab one (or seven) of our Local Food Global Flavour recipes cards found throughout the market! #localfoodglobalflavours

Celebrate the harvest with Vancouver Farmers Markets at RIPE 2016! Tickets are on sale now for our annual dinner fundraiser, which takes place Sunday, October 16 at The Roundhouse. RIPE features a knock-out roster of farm-to-table chefs paired with VFM producers to present 8 mount-watering small plate tasting stationsseasonal cocktails, and local craft beverage. More info on participating chefs and vendors, and to buy tickets, at the RIPE event page.

Did you get your LIMITED EDITION stylish VFM market bag yet?


Grab yours before they are gone! Only $15, and for members $12.75

Share your market finds @vanmarkets  #mountpleasantFM and follow Mt Pleasant Market on facebook!



See you Sunday!!

What's Fresh at Main St Station - September 28


2 cups baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tbs
1 Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin sticks
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 pre-made 12-inch thin pizza crust
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, blitz the spinach, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream until pesto-y. Set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet and add the sausage. Break up with a wooden spoon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

To the pan, add the red pepper. Add a little more oil if needed. Throw a teeny dash of salt in there.

Grab your crust and evenly spoon the pesto over it. Sprinkle a little cheese on top. Then add some sausage. Then some cheese. Then some peppers.

Bake according to package directions, (around 10 minutes) slice her up and eat the WHOLE THING.

Source: Bev Cooks

For more Local Food Global Flavour recipes, look out for our recipe cards throughout the market! #localfoodglobalflavours


apples, basil, bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy, carrots, celery, chard, cherries, cauliflower, cucamelons, cucumbers, corn, delicata squash,  dahlias, eggplant, fennel, fresh herbs, garlic, green beans, green onions, heirloom tomatoes, leeks, nectarines, new potatoes, melons, mushrooms, patty pan squash, pears, plums, pumpkin, radishes, raspberries, salad mix, sunflowers, snap peas, sugar peas, tomatoes, turnips, wild rice, zucchini, zucchini flowers

Top Pick

This week Roasters Hot Sauce is bringing their limited release of their Roasted Hobañero Super Hot Sauce. Made with the hottest peppers in the world  including Carolina Reapers (THE hottest) Trinidad Scorpions, Ghost peppers and Habaneros grown by our local farmers Sole Foods Street Farms and Cropthorne Farm  – this super hot sauce will be sure to please hot and spicy lovers.

Don’t Miss

Only 2 markets left until our last market at Main St Station – the last market is on Wednesday, October 5th. Are you a mid-week market shopper? Make sure to shop at our Thursday Downtown Farmers Market to get you through the week – it’s open until Thursday, October 27th.

Celebrate the harvest with Vancouver Farmers Markets at RIPE 2016! Tickets are on sale now for our annual dinner fundraiser, which takes place Sunday, October 16 at The Roundhouse. RIPE features a knock-out roster of farm-to-table chefs paired with VFM producers to present 8 mount-watering small plate tasting stations, seasonal cocktails, and local craft beverage. More info on participating chefs and vendors, and to buy tickets, at the RIPE event page.

We want to hear from you! Help us plan healthy and thriving markets by filling out our weekly dot surveys for Survey September.

Ready, set, SCAVENGE! Pickup your Salt Spring Coffee’s Edible Scavenger Hunt card and complete 5 activities to be entered to win Salt Spring Island swag, $100 market money or tickets to our annual Ripe harvest dinner.

Are you a regular Main St Station shopper? Pickup your Main St Station Shopper Card at our Information Booth and enjoy some great perks including:

  • Free Market Money transactions ($2 value)
  • Free “bunch” item after 5th visit*
  • Free “basket” or “bag” item after 10th visit*
  • Free “jar” item after 15th visit*

*all free items valued at a maximum of $3. Shopper card is available at Main St Station only.

See you at the market!

Get a complete list of this week’s Main St Station vendors here.

Find more information on the Main St Station location here

Discover our five other summer market locations on our Markets Page.

What's Fresh at Mt Pleasant Market-Sept 25th


Acorn squash, apples, artichokes, beets, basil, beans, bell peppers, bitter melon, blackberries, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, corn, cucumber, dill, eggplant, fennel, garlic, gem squash, green onions, head lettuce, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mint, mushrooms, napa cabbage, onions, potatoes, peas, plums, radishesraspberries, salad mix, spinach, summer squash, strawberries, tomatoes, turnips

(photo has apples from new vendor Open View Orchard)

Fall Fair is Oct 2nd!

 Pumpkin Patch, games, yummy treats! Fun for the WHOLE Family!



Plus there are two great CONTESTS all ages can enter! Win some great Vancouver Farmers Market swag!



This recipe for celery and cashew nut soup combines the subtle flavour of celery with the nuttiness of cashew.

1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped

1 medium sized potato, peeled and chopped

1/2 head celery, wash, remove leaves and chop

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons broken cashew nuts

1 1/4 pints vegetable stock

3/4 pint milk

seasoning to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.Saute the prepared vegetables gently until the onion is transparent. Add the cashews and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.Add the milk and allow to cool slightly.Blend in a blender.Reheat to serve and add seasoning to taste.

Yield: 4 portions

For more Local Food Global Flavours look out for our recipe cards throughout the market!


Survey September at Mt Pleasant Market – help us  learn about you and what you’d like to see at your market! Each week we’ll display different questions so grab some of our stickers, have some fun, and let us know what you’d like to see!

Pickup your Salt Spring Coffee’s Edible Scavenger Hunt card and complete 5 activities to be entered to win Salt Spring Island swag, $100 market money or tickets to our annual Ripe harvest dinner. #fairtofarmer

Help us spread the word about your market… ask for a poster for your building or business or leaflets to hand out. Sign out a Mt Pleasant Market lawn sign and tell you neighbours about this great market!

Share your market finds @vanmarkets  #mountpleasantFM and follow Mt Pleasant Market on facebook!

See you Sunday!!