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CQ1. Inspired Market Garden practices Sustainable Agriculture.
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 to chefs?

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 begin ordering?

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 to you.

Q5. Why should I be an Inspired Market Gardens’ customer?

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 your specification
  • 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 flavour?

Q6. How are Inspired Market Gardens’ products delivered?

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 Edmonton area.
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 for you.

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.

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