CQ1. Inspired Market Garden practices
What does that mean and does it relate to taste?
A1. Sustainable agriculture is a
broad-spectrum holistic approach to natural farming.
We are always working to enhance our farming methods
so that our crops grow naturally and consequently
achieve optimum nutrient levels. Our methods allow
us to provide you the optimum in flavour, yet not
ruin the land, the environment, or contaminate the
people who work on, or visit, our farm. We believe
in farming in a way that agriculture (and our farm),
can survive and thrive long term.
So what is the difference between
‘Organic’ or ‘certified organic’
and sustainable? Organic stands for some of the
same things - but organic means using a system that
avoids the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers,
herbicides, pesticides or growth regulators. Sustainable
agriculture is broader conceptually. Organic is
the elimination of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers,
but we believe that these must be replaced by methods
that result in long-term sustainable growth. We
work hard to put proper nutrients back into the
soil, and subsequently back into the food.
People talk about farming in their
father’s or grandfather’s day and say
that they grew ‘organically’ without
evening knowing it, but although pre-1940’s
farmers did not generally add chemicals of various
means to their soil, neither did they have the knowledge
or modern facilities to test soil, to check on nutrient
levels, to enhance the soil using the best of old
and new methods. We can do that.
Everyone needs quality food. More people (and animals)
can be fed with less quantity but only if the nutrition
in the food is the highest possible. How do you
judge whether food is nutritious or not?
Conventional farming is a mining
process in which each year, the soils are depleted
of vital nutrients, and conventional farmers try
to counteract this (and are told to do so), by adding
synthetic fertilizers and by spraying herbicides.
They are not encouraged to rotate their crops, to
grow green manure/cover crops or utilize other alternative
methods to enhance the soil naturally. Conventional
agriculture often becomes a sad cycle where the
farmer must pay more and more to grow crops that
are worth less and less (not only as a commodity
but also in nutrient value). In addition conventional
farming often results in the harvesting of crops
that are immature, resulting in overuse of costly
driers (and fuel), and whose nutrient value is low
because it was not able to fully mature into nature’s
intended ripeness. After harvesting, crops are often
stored and transported for way too long further
reducing the nutrient (and flavour) levels.
Sustainable agriculture is a building
of the soil year after year to make it better, utilizing
not only time-honoured practices, but modern methods
of analysis and application. We believe that by
rebuilding the soil naturally it will return to
us a sweeter, better-tasting product. Our methods
show that sustainable agriculture offers the greatest
opportunity for maximum flavour, and provides a
crop that is wholesome and nutritious. Further,
because we deliver or ship the day after we pick,
you receive the best possible and most healthy product.
Q2. What about your sustainable practices
in your greenhouse?
A2. We practice preventative and
biological control in our greenhouse only. We do
not use any pesticide or herbicides of any kind.
We use only organic soil (not the
soil-less mixes that most greenhouses use), grown
in specially bought tall pots – this means
our plants develop marvelous root systems, and are
easy to transplant.
We use only organic liquid fertilizer, and we employ
only hand watering and hand grooming methods for
all of our plants. This means we do have to pay
more attention, and we do have to employ more people.
The result is a cared-for, superior product. You
get what you pay for.
The same plants we sell, we put
in our own gardens to supply fresh product for chefs
and customers at the farmer’s markets. The
result is a consistent product and a reliable one.
Q3. Which of your products are available
A3. Any of the products that are
shown in the listings in this website under Herbs,
Salads & Greens, and Edible Flowers are available
to you, provided they are still in season (check
out the seasonal calendar). (LINK). We can also
do unique green & edible flower mixes made to
order especially for you, and can do custom growing.
Please see the next question about ‘how do
I become a customer’ to arrange this.
We regret that at this time chickens are not available
to chefs as we do not do them in sufficient quantity,
nor serve them fresh.
Q4. How can I become a customer and
A4. To become a customer, you need
to E-mail us or call us to set up a consultation
(we’d rather do that in person, but if distance
or time is a problem, this can be done over the
phone or on-line). We will only take you on as a
customer if it works for both of us – if we
can provide you with the products you need in a
timely fashion, and if the ‘fit’ is
a good one. Just as you don’t want us to make
false promises, we want to ensure that you understand
our methods and challenges. We want to work with
you to bring you items that are not only unique
and in beautiful condition, but in a way that is
practical, and requires little maintenance (admin)
on either side.
If you become a customer you will
receive a current product order form listing all
of the available products. This will be updated
as the season progresses. You then can set up a
weekly or bi-weekly standing order, or you can fax
or E-mail a completed order form to us at least
48 hours before you need the product. Either way
we will pick to your order, and if product is unexpectedly
unavailable or if the quality is not as good as
our standards say it should be, we will let you
know immediately (not when you’re expecting
it to be delivered). In most cases if some specific
item is not available there will be a reasonable
facsimile available which we will of course offer
Q5. Why should I be an Inspired Market
A5. In a few words:
- Freshness that exceeds expectations.
- Flavour that exceeds expectations.
- Beautiful safe edible products
- A special unique relationship with
each and every chef we work with.
- Staff who understand your problems
and who will always listen to your needs.
- More than 150 products with new
ones coming each season
- Exceptional flavour in every product
- Hand-harvested product picked to
order daily, rushed to the cooler, and shipped immediately
so that you can have the freshest product available
on your guests’ plates within 24 hours.
- Product wrapped and shipped to
- Customized produce – we can
be your personal farmer, growing almost anything
you ask us to, and always developing new products
- Unique, hard-to-find product
- Did we remember to mention the
Q6. How are Inspired Market Gardens’
A6. A t Inspired
Market Gardens it is not about the distance, but
the delivery time. Modern shipping technology allows
us to be local to you.
We can ship through Purolator, Greyhound, Fed Ex,
UPS, and airlines throughout Alberta and beyond,
as well as by ground with our own van to the greater
Inspired Market Gardens harvests to order. We do
not keep an inventory of product. Our hand harvesting
of each order results in intensity of flavour and
premium shelf life, which can assist you by lowering
your levels of waste. Each item is picked fresh
and to the chef’s specifications the morning
following your order. In special cases and in the
local area, we can pick the product and deliver
it the same day. Our goal is to have our product
on your plate within 24 hours.
Q7. Does Inspired Market Gardens offer
tours to chefs?
A7. In a word
– YES! We welcome chefs to visit the farm
and take a tasting tour by appointment. In the future
we are hoping to provide special events and workshops
Q8. Does Inspired Market Gardens offer
a catalog or price list?
A8. We do have
a limited number of colour catalogues available
to chefs by special request. It mirrors the products
illustrated on the website, but provides a photo
of every item, and further details about growing
season etc. Please contact us by phone or E-mail
personally, to arrange for one to be sent to you
electronically or by standard mail. Monthly listing
of products that are currently available on the
farm will be available on the website beginning
in April 2006.
We do not publish
a price list. Our focus is on the freshness and
on the quality of the product, not the price. We
would be pleased to discuss specific prices with
you in private consultations. Once you are a customer,
a chef can call for the prices of any of our products
at any time.
We should mention
however, that sustainable agriculture - the "new"
old way of weed and insect control is more time
consuming, more labour intensive, and therefore
more costly than mass-harvested or grown product.
Nonetheless, Inspired Market Gardens is committed
to the return of good taste and high nutrition in
our food. We believe success comes from marvelous
beautiful-llooking and tasting FRESH products, combined
with a willingness to provide you with better service
and dependability than you can receive anywhere
else. We want to be your gardener!
Q9. Does Inspired Market Gardens provide
products all year-round?
A9. At the
moment we are a seasonal producer only – this
means due to our northern climate we have product
available from May through September. We know this
is frustrating to chefs, and every year we are committed
to stretching our season through new growing methods.
We invite you to grow with us.