(Photo: Chocolate beet cupcakes with edible flowers arranged by Hannah. On sale at the Tuesday market!)

The blackberries have started to ripen. Dad and I cut through Mouat Park yesterday to a secret place where we harvested over a kilo (or 3 pints) in about a half hour. Earlier today, he went to a different secret place by himself and got another 2 kilos. As I write, he and Mom are transforming it into jam. Recently we went over to Paul and Christina’s place and grabbed 50 pounds of sour plums from one of their trees. The plums are loaded with flavour and their tartness combines nicely with the absurd amount of sugar a standard jam recipe requires. (I’m not sure what to make of the Pomona low-sugar jam recipes; their website made it sound pretty complicated and expensive for the amount of sugar you saved. And some web reviews were lukewarm. But we should experiment anyway.)

On Wednesday we toured two farms on Mayne Island in conjunction with our Island Natural Growers monthly meeting. Deaconvale Farm  had a really interesting operation in that they were geared toward processing and retailing their own food. Although they had to fight a war with local government officials, they were eventually permitted to build a store, Farm Gate, which they have now stocked with their own and others’ fresh produce, meat, and eggs and also a wide selection of their own jams, chutneys and other preserves in addition to a wide selection of groceries typical of health food stores. The tour included a walk through their commercial kitchen complete with super-sized everything.

When I see the satisfaction of a jam well-made by my parents, I’m tempted to spend a bunch of money and build a similar facility to allow them to do it on a larger scale. If only we had our own place…


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