Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sprouts Kids' Club

Introducing Sprouts: The Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market’s new Kids’ Club!

The Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market is launching a new children’s club on its opening day, May 14th. Based on a program implemented by an Oregon City Farmers’ Market a few years ago, it is designed to inspire and empower children to make healthy and nutritious choices about food that they choose for themselves.

It is very easy to participate.

On market day, children, ages 4-12, come with a parent or guardian up to the SWEFM tent. 

There the child enrolls in the Sprouts Kids’ Club and receives a free passport, a wooden token and a special reusable shopping bag  (filled with fun goodies) that they will bring back with them each time they visit the market.

Each and every week that they attend, they come back with their brightly coloured shopping bags in tow, stop in at the SWEFM tent, have their “passport to health” stamped and receive another $2 token to spend at the market.

The catch is that their token can only be spent at market booths that sell fruit, vegetables or food plants.

And those booths are easy to identify, even if a child cannot yet read, by their large posters with the brightly coloured sprouts logo on them.

Kids can save tokens and purchase larger items
like this watermelon
Booth Signs
With the Sprouts Kids’ Club, children are empowered to make their own choices…they can buy a strawberry plant, a package of strangely filigreed kale, an alien looking kohlrabi or a perfect tray of red ripe raspberries.  They can try an old favourite, or venture into the world of the unknown. They come to know their farmers and growers and develop an understanding of where their food comes from.

As Sprouts, children are more likely to try new vegetables and fruits because they are making their own decisions about what they will buy, letting their innate curiosity lead the way. They are encouraged to become active participants in the Eat Local, Shop Local food scene. Siblings can work together, with brothers and sisters pooling their tokens to make purchases together.  Or kids can save up their tokens week to week to purchase something bigger, teaching them an important life lesson in saving, delayed gratification and working toward a goal.

The strange, alien spaceship looking kohlrabi
Often, when we think of issues surrounding children and food security, we think of children who do not have access to enough food. But living in an area of town, even like Edmonton’s Southwest, and raising children to embrace a healthy & active lifestyle has its challenges. Today’s children are bombarded with messages that entice them to eat sugary, salty, fatty, good-tasting foods. The supermarket aisles are filled with cartoon covered, child-friendly illustrations on food packages that lead children to believe that this is food made directly for them and that this is food that they are meant to eat. And it is often placed at children’s eye level. Television and the internet are filled with messages from fast food and packaged snack companies that directly target children, making it challenging to raise children in a healthy and nutritionally sound way.
A wall of carrots

The Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market has booths filled with beautiful produce: fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers’ fields and orchards; meat from animals raised in ethically, sustainable and often organic ways; and food that is prepared without preservatives and that is made from wholesome, whole-food ingredients.

With its Sprouts Kids’ Club, SWEFM hopes to back up parents in their attempts to raise their children in a nutritionally mindful way.

The purpose of the Sprouts program is to introduce kids to nutritional food choices, empower children to make their own healthy eating choices, educate them about where their food comes from, and encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Baby lettuce plants
A very special thank-you goes out to Dr. Darcy Dietz of Towne Square Orthodontics for financially sponsoring this program, to the generous grant of Communities Choose Well for investing in the nutritional health of our children and our community and to Brookview Montessori and AJM’s Out of School Care for their financial contributions to this program.

Thanks also to the vendors themselves, who bring their produce to market, who take the time to engage the Sprouts children in a dialogue around food, and who provide incentive pricing for the children to help their $2 go farther.

Sprouts is really a grass-roots effort. momstown Edmonton is supplying and hosting farm-themed Curbside Studio has designed and donated the awesome Sprouts logo and created the signs and information posters for the program. Matt Hendsbee Graphic Design has made the wood brand that burns the token images and helped with signage at the SWEFM tent. Karen Cooper has been tirelessly chasing down grants and pulling all the details of this program together. Café O’Play has generously donated passes to their facilities for the kids’ shopping bags and gift baskets for Sprouts draws. Ada’s Soap Shop has donated kid-sized bars of soap to the shopping bags. And Dr. Peter Clarke has donated and created the wooden tokens.
crafts for kids at the market.

It is really incredible to be surrounded by people who believe in a project to the extent that they work this hard, donating their time, financial resources, creativity and sweat equity, to help get a program like this off the ground, bringing our community together in such an engaging way.

Because this is a pilot program, it will initially be offered to the first 100 registrants. We will try to open it up to more children as it evolves.  More sponsorships will mean that we can open it up to more children. If you are interested in helping us out with this initiative, please contact us.

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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee, Volunteer Chair

Monday, 14 April 2014

Behind The Scenes News

Opening Day is May 14th!

With ONE month to go, things are shaping up behind the scenes to make this season, the 4th for our community market, a terrific success. We have a few new things in the works to tell you about... so here's your sneak peak!

Our New Market Manager!

Meet Carley Jane Stanton. She is our market manager for the 2014 season. Passionate about her city, she is a strong advocate of eating local, shopping at farmers'  markets and studying and promoting urban community gardens. As a result, she is fast becoming a fixture on Edmonton's food scene and is eager to help us continue to build our market into the vibrant, successful scene you've come to know and love.

Our Sprouts Kids' Club

More details will follow closer to opening day, but we are really excited about our new kids' program, called Sprouts, sponsored by Dr. Darcy Dietz of Towne Square Orthodontics. 

Designed to help children, ages 4 through 12, see and experience the value of healthy and nutritious eating, it will help your kids develop great habits around shopping local and eating fresh, seasonal and local fruits and vegetables. 

You know how hard it is to get your kids to embrace healthy eating with so many cartoon-decorated products available at the local grocery store shelves, right at their height! This program is designed to empower kids to make their own choices about healthy foods, to get them to try new fruit and vegetables and experiment with healthy eating., and to get them to create a habit of shopping local and eating nutritionally mindfully. Parents, we've got your back!

As this is a pilot program, we are opening it up to a limited number of children. Be sure to stop by with your children at our SWEFM tent on opening day to sign up! 

Plant A Row, Grow A Row for Edmonton's Food Bank

Come out opening day, May 14, to learn about Plant A Row, Grow A Row and our partnership with Edmonton's Food Bank. This is your chance to help put good quality, nutrient dense fresh foods into the cold storage rooms of the food bank. They will be onsite collecting food, toiletry and cash donations, along with any plastic shopping bags or empty egg cartons that you may have. momstown will be on hand doing a free, garden themed kids' craft to help get you started, so be sure to stop by our Community Tent to participate!

What's at the Market This Year?

Be prepared to see the food trucks you love (old favourites and some new faces) and the concessions that have those tasty indulgences that tempt market goers, young and old!

There will be entertaining buskers (from balloon making to face painting to music).

We will have lots of terrific food vendors (from fresh vegetables and fruits through to take-away meals).

Each week you will see beautiful artisanal goods (from jewellery through to artisanal soaps and handcrafted home decor items). And in the spring, there will be beautiful hanging baskets and food plants ready for your garden plots and pots.

With more and more people wanting to see us develop the food side of our market, this season you will see baked goods like you wouldn't believe (from breads and cookies through to sweet pastries and cupcakes).

On site you will find unique food treats, from gourmet marshmallows and treats-to-go-on-a-stick through to decadent chocolate bars and truffles. 

There will even be locally roasted coffee this year! To drink, you will also find some other unique offerings, like healthy and fresh pressed-juice sodas, fresh squeezed lemonade and the ever-popular Italian sodas.

Lastly, we are really developing our market to accommodate the appetites of people with food allergies, specific dietary preferences, and food intolerances. Expect to see vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, nut-free, gluten-free and many ethnic food choices available.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign!

For those friends and neighbours who have said, "we didn't know there was a farmers' market here!" there will be no missing it this season! We have invested in lots of new signage to put up on site and in the surrounding neighbourhoods. If you would like to be a Sign Angel, please let us know and we'll give you a sign to put out every Wednesday during market season. We could really use your help!

The countdown is on to opening day... see you at the market!

Visit our website at
Like us on Facebook!

Follow this link to read up on the profiles of trucks at our market:
Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Food Trucks at our Market This Season

Anchoring one end of our market is the bright orange Bully Food truck.
Food trucks are one of the trendiest things on the foodie landscape, and if last year at our market is any indication, they are a definite draw, pulling people together to experience a vibrant local food scene. 

After placing your order, it is so fun to visit with friends and other food truck aficionados while waiting in the pick up line for your fresh food to be prepared, taking in the atmosphere of the market, listening to musical buskers, and watching children swarm all over the inflatable slide. There's really nothing quite like dinner up at the market with friends and family on a warm summer night.

Food trucks have picked up quite a local following:
    Yellowbird Food Truck is a brightly coloured fixture at our
    market, serving up delicious Japanese-fusion style food
    and delicious Italian sodas.
  • There is an Eat St. app that you can download for free on iTunes that links your current location to the nearest food truck so that you can, on a whim, get your fix of gourmet comfort food. 
  • There is the wildly popular Food Network show of the same name, Eat St. which is actually a Canadian show that features food trucks, that shares their recipes, that interviews their chefs, that tells their stories and that shares the chefs' inspirations with its viewers. 
  • And food trucks are popping up all over the place, with Calgary and Edmonton hosting some of the hottest food truck scenes in Canada. This year in Edmonton, like last, there are a number of new food trucks on the scene.
Wendy, serving Bully's food to a customer at SWEFM
last season.
Essentially gourmet kitchens on wheels, food trucks usually offer up comfort food, cooked fast and fresh on site, often using locally-sourced ingredients. 

With our old view of food trucks as hot dog, hamburger & fries stands and carnival fare, they have made us redefine our notion of what a food truck can and should be. Take a look and see what I mean...
    Bully Truck (gourmet comfort food). 

    Wendy & Dean will be back, using food sourced from local vendors who are at our market, making wonderful things and sumptuous food offerings like Mac & Cheese, Poutine with Sausage Gravy, Turkey Burgers, Fresh Vegetable Salad topped with Smoked Meat and Black Garlic Aeoli, and Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Yum! Wendy and Dean make a point of using food sourced from local farms and producers when they can, enhancing the "local" nature of the delicious food they serve. You can find their bright orange truck, located next to the children's slide area at the market. Wendy is the kind, warm and friendly face who greets you at the truck window.

    She shares, "I am Dean’s wife; you can call me executive wife… lol. I met Dean over 20 yrs ago when we worked in a hotel together. We flirted for a while until he eventually asked me out for coffee. The rest is history. Dean has worked in large hotels in this city for years and when he finally decided he no longer wanted to work for the man, we agreed to buy a food truck and my daughter Janaya worked with him for the fall of 2012. When it came to 2013 I had to make the decision to leave my guaranteed paycheque job to work with him, or let him experience his adventure on his own. Well.... I took the plunge and quit work for the unknown. Who would have known it was the best decision I ever made. Sure the hours can be long and the sleep is scarce, but it's a job with huge rewards that allow us the satisfaction of serving some of Edmonton finest foodies. Here is to another decade of happy customers."

    Yellow Bird Food Truck

    Yellow Bird's Yakinaku Wrap
    (Japanese fusion cuisine). 

    Ayumi and Masa will be back again, serving up delicious rice bowls, yakiniku wraps (a Japanese take on a Philly Cheesesteak with sesame dressing, shreds of daikon, sautéed red peppers, and generous shavings of beef seasoned with soy sauce, garlic & brown sugar). Their bright red food trailer can be found in the centre of the market, next to the ATM machine. 

    Their foods are light, healthy and delicately seasoned, making for a wonderful evening dinner. Complete with wooden chop sticks (or forks and knives if you prefer), you can have an authentic eating experience. Top it off with one of their Italian sodas over ice and you have the mixings for a delicious food truck meal.
      Wraps served with mild or "heck hot" sauce and curry chips
       are a popular item at Sailin' On's food truck.
    Sailin' On (vegan food) 

    Mike & Garret will be back at our market this year, serving up their popular veagan takes on fun foods like tacos and B.L.T.s. People rave about their Seitan Reuben sandwiches and curry chips. 

    They started off on the food truck path years ago, with an annual event on the front steps of their home in Garneau, where they made vegan corndogs for their friends and passers by. This event became quite popular, and so, after much preparation & research, they took the leap last year from making their immensely popular vegan corn dogs to expanding their menu and jumping into the Edmonton food truck scene, "bringing vegan street food to the masses." 

    On their website, they proclaim, "Gripping hard to their punk rock roots and DIY work ethic, they built a truck, tested and re-tested their menu through pop-up and special events, learned to look good in hairnets and rocked plenty of tight jams along the way." Check out their particular flavour, style and the creative take that they bring both to the food that they prepare and to the atmosphere of our market. You're sure to be surprised, delighted and satisfied... 
      Knosh's Coronation Chicken Sandwich
    Knosh Food Truck (British comfort food). 

    New to our market this year, Stuart is excited to bring his take on traditional "Brit Foods" to us. 

    Some of his regular menu items are a Yorkshire Pudding with Braised Beef and Rosemary Gravy, Pulled Pork Belly Sandwich with Purple Cabbage and Beet Slaw, Pork and Apple Burger with Brie and Carmelized Onions, and Irving Farms English Bacon Sandwich with Fig Jam and Grilled Tomato (their take on a BLT), Cornish Pasties, Steak and Kidney Pie, and Corn Beef Hash with English Pancakes and a Poached Egg. 

    He uses local producers when he can. He also has an in-house made Ginger Beer that is very popular. And for those who feel British to their very toes, even on our hot, sunny Edmonton summer days, there is Earl Grey Iced Tea and Fresh Scones with Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserves. Yum!

    With a wide array of toppings, La Poutine
    Food truck is sure to meet your craving.
    La Poutine (many versions of a traditional Quebecois comfort food favourite: fries, gravy, cheese & toppings). 

    La Poutine will be a regular at our market this season. La Poutine was created by an Edmontonian and a Quebecois who have enjoyed poutine from east to west. They have fused their two worlds together in one comfort food item to deliver a terrific taste sensation. Their fries are hand-cut from fresh russet potatoes and fried twice in canola oil that is free of trans fats and low in saturated fat. 

    They offer both traditional gravy and beef gravy. The traditional gravy is vegan and is considered Quebec-style while their beef gravy is thicker, darker, and considered western Canada-style. Their cheese curds are locally made and are so fresh they “squeak.” And their dipping sauces are made in-house from real mayonnaise and sour cream. By offering traditional poutine and many other unique poutine creations, La Poutine has something for everyone. 

    Insights Into The Food Truck Scene...

    Listening to CBC's interview of the Food Network's James Cunningham, producer of Eat St. gave me fascinating insight into the food truck world. A successful Food Network show that tours around North America, Eat St. films and interviews the chefs behind popular food trucks. (To hear the interview, go to and scroll down to April 12, 2013 at the 16:30 minute mark). He was in Calgary, filming one of their food trucks there. Though it is a Canadian show, Eat St. does most of its filming States-side, partially due to the fact that there are far more trucks down south where the population is substantially more numerous and the climate allows for trucks to be open for far longer seasons than it does in Canada. However, we Canadians are a resilient bunch, and are coming out to support food tucks, hand over fist! So we have a definite presence on the North American truck scene map.

    Wendy & Dean of Bully Food Truck
    Cunningham made some really interesting points in his radio interview. He stressed that the chefs who rent or own and operate these trucks had to be a bit crazy and super passionate about food to run a food truck, as it is a lot of work. And he likened what is happening now, on the food truck scene, to what he called a Food Truck Revolution. Food trucks are a phenomenon that have absolutely exploded onto the street scene because of two serendipitous things occurring in North America a couple of years ago.

    First, there was the down turn in the North American economy. 

    Often, he pointed out, the people behind the gourmet food trucks are 5 star chefs. during the economic downturn, some were out of work (and, he added almost sheepishly, some were simply office workers who desperately wanted out from behind their desk to do what they love) but they still wanted to be gainfully employed in the culinary arts in which they were trained and were passionate. They were nervous to roll the dice and open up their own restaurant in the height of a recession. So these chefs rented or invested in trucks, hit the pavement and took their inspiration to the street to do what they loved.
    Sailin' On will be back once a month with their popular vegan fare.

    There is a flip side to this point as well. With the downturn in the economy, especially in the United States, many people were no longer going to expensive 5 star restaurants. But they still had a passion and a desire to be eating gourmet food.  So these people began turning to more expensive, but gourmet, street food as a replacement for eating out in fine dining restaurants.

    The second thing was the social media explosion that has occurred in our society

    Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest are all the rage and have the possibility to make things popular, to make things go "viral," and to get news out almost instantaneously. Food truck chefs can tweet out their information throughout the day. And their customers can retweet or "like" that info out once again to their friends, who "like" or tweet it to theirs, and so on. When it comes to food trucks, this can include menu items, their location for that day, and what is hot & popular on a given day. As a result, food trucks have their fanatical followers, and lineups at the trucks can be insane. James Cunningham likened it to a gourmet flash mob where there's an energy and an enthusiasm in the line up & the air is a-buzz with excited "What are you getting? What did you get? What's good here?" chatter.
    Knosh Food Truck serves up traditional Brit Food

    The success and popularity of the food truck phenomenon has made another important thing happen. Cities like Edmonton and Calgary are recognizing what a great thing having a vibrant food truck scene is for the atmosphere and profitability of their cites, and they are giving parking spots to the food trucks along with their licences in prime, downtown locations. 

    The chefs in these trucks are beholden only to themselves and this creates a unique opportunity to blend influences from their upbringing and fuse them with their own unique style in preparing comfort foods. The gourmet result is a surprisingly delicious and inspiring fusion cuisine. A carte blanche, if you will, to do what they want & to bring their inspiration to the street.

    Edmonton's food truck scene has taken off this year with some new trucks hitting the pavement and setting up on our streets.  
    Sailin' On's popular Green Chili Sauces.

    There aren't many opportunities in Edmonton to see multiple food trucks gathered together in one place. Our city seems to licence them in a way that attaches them to a particular street corner or location that is isolated from other trucks. Other than What The Truck! events, and some special downtown & summer festivals, rarely do you see them collected together en masse. Our market will feature 4 food trucks throughout the season It is a really cool "must-try" experience. 

    Come out and see what all the fuss is about. 
    Make Wednesday night Dinner-At-The-Market Night 
    for your family and friends. See you there!

    Visit our website at
    Like us on Facebook!

    Follow this link to read up on the profiles of trucks at our market:
    Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee