Thoughtful gift ideas…

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I think everyone in our house gets a book for Christmas, every year.

Come and check out our selection, there really is something for everyone! Many local authors are featured on our shelves.

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

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As the summer sun continues to shine, more and more people are coming in with ice cream on their minds. With 
our range of flavour-filled cold treats from local creameries, we can do more than deliver, we can astound. Two of 
our favourite local ice cream producers are Cold Comfort and Kid Sister. Both are small-scale, high quality ice cream 
producers with a passion and love for cold treats which is unparalleled. 

Cold Comfort Ice Cream has been around for a good many years by now yet they continue to grow in popularity as 
more and more people have a chance to taste their brilliance. As their website says, Cold Comfort is “curiously-flavoured, 
seasonally inspired, and locally handcrafted” in order to “give you a memorable ice cream experience”. The ice cream is made
in small batches with new, unique flavours always coming out. Their website boasts a flavour archive of 342 flavours ranging 
from Jasmine Tea to Goat Cheese & Lavender to Hoyne Dark Matter Beer. With each ice cream sandwich and pint marking 
a new experience, Cold Comfort reinvents the term 'ice cream' in a way that will make you come back for more. 

Kid Sister is, in many ways similar to Cold Comfort in that it is a small-batch ice cream operation which works to create 
tantalizing flavour combinations. This being said, while Cold Comfort specializes in the creamy sweet cookie sandwiches 
and pints, Kid Sister's main attraction is the creamy and fruity popsicle. Originally called Fruitition Palletas, Kid Sister was 
established as a Mexican-style popsicle shop with decadent ice cream and sorbet concoctions on a stick. They have branched 
out since this initial popsicle theme, yet this remains their most well-known product. Their store front on Fisgard Street, 
combined with their wholesale production for Niagara Grocery and other retailers, helps to make Kid Sister an ever-growing 
popsicle and ice cream experience. 

So now you're thinking, where can I get some of this amazing ice cream?! At Niagara Grocery, of course! Especially in the 
summer months, we make sure to have a steady supply of Cold Comfort and Kid Sister in order to satisfy that sweet craving 
for decadence. Because what would summer be without ice cream?

Farmer Profile: Haliburton Community Farm

2014HaliFarmers plse credit RazzlePhotography

Photo by Haliburton Farm: http://haliburtonfarm.org/wp/

As the weather gets warmer, more and more local farmers are starting to give us a call, offering rhubarb, spinach, 
sprouting kale, and cabbage tops. These days are the beginning of Niagara's shining season of local produce and, 
understandably, the staff is beyond excited. One of the key local farms that has started providing the first produce
of the season is Haliburton Community Farm. This cooperative farming operation provides a space for small-scale 
farmers to farm and collaborate on sales in order to increase shared profits. Haliburton is more than just a collection 
of farms, it is also a place of learning. With their weekend work parties, farming classes, and school visits, Haliburton's 
farmers engage the public and increase awareness of sustainable farming approaches.

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with a few of the farmers at Haliburton to get their perspective on
farming and the local food movement. Farmers Shawn Dirksen and Elmarie both had inspiring insights on growing
food. Shawn Dirkesen began farming at Haliburton two years ago and just recently has begun farming a plot by 
himself under the name 'Northstar Organics. On his plot, Shawn farms a wide array of fruits and vegetables, 
including kale, chard, raspberries and spinach. He has chosen such a wide range of produce for a few reasons.
Customers enjoy having a variety of produce to choose from at market and for Shawn, having many crops acts
as a form of insurance.

Through wholesale distribution, CSA food boxes, and booths not only on the Saanich property but also at 
local farmers markets, Haliburton's produce is widely distributed. The accessibility of their products 
in conjunction with their society principles of stewardship, education, economic viability 
and community involvement have allowed Haliburton's community farming operation to become a well-known and 
respected entity in the Greater Victoria area. Through their innovation, Haliburton has become a driving force
in community-based agriculture and the local food movement. This movement, which Haliburton has helped to grow, 
may be aided, in Shawn Dirksen's view, through further increasing the availability of urban and fringe farm land 
to market growers. “The main impediment to farming near Victoria is the cost and availability of affordable farm 
land”, Shawn notes, yet through support for local farmers at local markets and shops like Niagara Grocery, 
everyday Victorians can influence change.

Elmarie, another farmer at Haliburton Community Farm, has a similar view of the importance of buying local 
and increasing local farmers' land access. She has been farming at Haliburton since 2003 and focusses her 
growing on herbs and flowers because of her work as an aromatherapist. In her view, “the most important 
steps that we as Victorians can take to ensure local food security is to educate ourselves to grow our own 
food and to know where to shop for local, pure food. We have to lobby to get planners and landowners to dedicate 
land for food and follow proven models for community farming – such as Haliburton farm has demonstrated over 
the 12 years of its existence.”

Haliburton's true community farming approach has allowed for small-scale farmers to not only have land and 
market access, but also to share information and resources through research, education and community engagement. 
This space has brought about an amazingly collaborative farming effort which provides top-notch, sustainably 
farmed produce while sharing knowledge and creativity with the Greater Victoria community.

No wonder we couldn't help but smile when the Haliburton crew came into the store this Saturday carrying 
totes full of colourful leafy greens. Their growers are lovely, their cooperation is innovative and their 
products are out of this world delicious!

 


Producer Profile: Singing Bowl Granola

 

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Niagara Grocery is truly a showcase of local entrepreneurs, following their dreams to provide healthy, ethical food 
choices to the Victoria community. One of the most socially conscious and ethically sourced producers that we work with
is Singing Bowl Granola, with its champion founder, Jessica Duncan. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Jessica
about the history of Singing Bowl Granola and her business philosophy. Her answers were so beautifully put that I've decided
to show you the script of our interview rather than paraphrase her words:

A: Is ‘fair trade’ and/or ‘organic’ certification important to you when choosing ingredients? Why or why not?
J: Both fair trade & organic are very important to me.  One of the best ways we can make our statement in the world
and create change is through our food habits.  Every time we buy organic, we are encouraging organic farmers to keep
producing chemical-free food.  It is so important to keep your food as clean as possible (i.e. free from chemicals and GMOs).  
We have too much information on the food industry to ignore the horrific conditions in which the multinationals bring 
food to our table.  In my opinion, you can taste the difference in food that was produced by people who are paid fairly
or by people who work as slaves.  Everybody benefits when food is produced ethically.
 
A: What, in a few words, would you describe as your business philosophy?
J. If you’re happy, we’re happy. I love feeding people, whether it’s around my kitchen table or around the region. Sharing 
good food is my way of sharing happiness. I love making and selling Singing Bowl Granola and I love hearing from people who 
get so much enjoyment from eating it. My business philosophy is based on the purveying of happiness (and good health).
 
A: What, in your opinion, are steps that we, as Victorians, could take to ensure local food security??
J: INVEST! Victoria is teaming with small-scale food producers and vendors (like Niagara Grocery) who thrive on the dollars 
of the conscious shopper. It doesn’t need to be huge investments.  Even if you decide to spend $20/week on local products or
in a local shop, DO IT. Even though most of us are running our businesses out of the love of community and creativity, we still 
need money to pay the bills. Every time you support a local producer or vendor, you are doing your part to contribute to local food
security and support the local economy. Consumers are waking up to the added bonus they get from purchasing locally produced food. 
As with fairly traded food, locally produced tastes so much better when you've actually conversed with the producer or provider.
 
A: What inspired you to create Singing Bowl Granola?
J: It’s a bit of a long story. I moved to Victoria in 2010 from Scotland where I’d taught for 13 years while running an organic
farm with my husband. We moved here to help my aging parents, so I needed work that was flexible. My Ontario teaching credential
isn’t recognized in BC, so that wasn’t an option. I was sitting in a local cafe with a friend and noticed the bags of granola for sale.
I blurted out,“I could do that!” having a long history in the health food business. My friend thought she would also like to do it. We 
worked together for about a month before she realized she couldn’t commit, but, by that time, I was on a roll coming up with names and
recipes and a logo. I am known for my tenacity - once I sink my teeth into an idea, I don’t let go. I loved the idea back in 2010 and 
I love the business now.

A: Which product of yours is your personal favourite? Why?
J: This changes all the time. I went through a 6 month period of eating only Mega Medley every day.  It is super healthy, but also so
very tasty. In the summer I like to sprinkle Maple-Pecan Duet over fresh fruit. My latest recipe, Giving Granola, tastes like Pina Colada
and makes me so happy as I am working with the good folk at Level Ground Trading to connect with and support the women in Colombia who 
process the fruit that goes into it. And then there’s the Morning Chorus. Every time I taste it I am blown away at how delicious it is. 
We also make healthy snacks which are very yummy.
The world needs more conscientious innovators like Jessica Duncan. Supporting businesses like Singing Bowl Granola is
the essence of Niagara Grocery's mission for a sustainable, healthy and happy environment. It is people like her that make
it easy to choose local and it's voices like hers that keep hope alive for a more just and sustainable business future. 
 

A: Is ‘fair trade’ and/or ‘organic’ certification important to you when choosing ingredients? Why or why not?

J: Both fair trade & organic are very important to me.  One of the best ways we can make our statement in the world
and create change is through our food habits.  Every time we buy organic, we are encouraging organic farmers to keep
producing chemical-free food.  It is so important to keep your food as clean as possible (i.e. free from chemicals and GMOs).  
We have too much information on the food industry to ignore the horrific conditions in which the multinationals bring 
food to our table.  In my opinion, you can taste the difference in food that was produced by people who are paid fairly
or by people who work as slaves.  Everybody benefits when food is produced ethically.
 


A: What, in a few words, would you describe as your business philosophy?
J. If you’re happy, we’re happy. I love feeding people, whether it’s around my kitchen table or around the region. Sharing 
good food is my way of sharing happiness. I love making and selling Singing Bowl Granola and I love hearing from people who 
get so much enjoyment from eating it. My business philosophy is based on the purveying of happiness (and good health).
 

A: What, in your opinion, are steps that we, as Victorians, could take to ensure local food security??

J: INVEST! Victoria is teaming with small-scale food producers and vendors (like Niagara Grocery) who thrive on the dollars 
of the conscious shopper. It doesn’t need to be huge investments.  Even if you decide to spend $20/week on local products or
in a local shop, DO IT. Even though most of us are running our businesses out of the love of community and creativity, we still 
need money to pay the bills. Every time you support a local producer or vendor, you are doing your part to contribute to local food
security and support the local economy. Consumers are waking up to the added bonus they get from purchasing locally produced food. 
As with fairly traded food, locally produced tastes so much better when you've actually conversed with the producer or provider.
 

A: What inspired you to create Singing Bowl Granola?

J: It’s a bit of a long story. I moved to Victoria in 2010 from Scotland where I’d taught for 13 years while running an organic
farm with my husband. We moved here to help my aging parents, so I needed work that was flexible. My Ontario teaching credential
isn’t recognized in BC, so that wasn’t an option. I was sitting in a local cafe with a friend and noticed the bags of granola for sale.
I blurted out,“I could do that!” having a long history in the health food business. My friend thought she would also like to do it. We 
worked together for about a month before she realized she couldn’t commit, but, by that time, I was on a roll coming up with names and
recipes and a logo. I am known for my tenacity - once I sink my teeth into an idea, I don’t let go. I loved the idea back in 2010 and 
I love the business now.


A: Which product of yours is your personal favourite? Why?

J: This changes all the time. I went through a 6 month period of eating only Mega Medley every day.  It is super healthy, but also so
very tasty. In the summer I like to sprinkle Maple-Pecan Duet over fresh fruit. My latest recipe, Giving Granola, tastes like Pina Colada
and makes me so happy as I am working with the good folk at Level Ground Trading to connect with and support the women in Colombia who 
process the fruit that goes into it. And then there’s the Morning Chorus. Every time I taste it I am blown away at how delicious it is. 
We also make healthy snacks which are very yummy.
The world needs more conscientious innovators like Jessica Duncan. Supporting businesses like Singing Bowl Granola is
the essence of Niagara Grocery's mission for a sustainable, healthy and happy environment. It is people like her that make
it easy to choose local and it's voices like hers that keep hope alive for a more just and sustainable business future. 
 

 

Farmer Profile: Beetnik Farm


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(Ian’s daughter Rhiannon prepares to cultivate their fields)

Beetnik Farm is one of the many wonderful farms that provides Niagara Grocery with fresh local produce,
and what better way to highlight the local farmers of Greater Victoria than to share their stories!

We were delighted to interview Ian Paul, the head of Beetnik Farm, about his love of farming and his
incredible organic farm! Beetnik Farm began operations in early 2012, leasing a 3.4 acre property in Central
Saanich. They started, quite literally, from the ground up. According to Ian, the first few months were spent
building the infrastructure, as there was no fencing or utilities on site. Even though there was much work to
be done, they were still able to plant a small crop that first spring. From that small crop, they have managed to
grow beautiful fruits and vegetables throughout much of the year with “fresh greens in the greenhouses, root
crops that store well and fruit crops for preserving”.

 

Ian has been growing food for most of his life. When asked about his favourite crops to grow he is brought back to
his childhood:

“I grew up in Northern Alberta in the 70′s. Back then people had big veggie gardens, like really big veggie gardens!
My mom and Omi always got me out there to help out and I never complained because I just loved everything about
it. The two crops that take me back to those days are carrots and peas. To this day, when I am working in the carrot
plot at Beetnik, the smell of the carrots as they come out of the earth transports me right back to my mom’s garden.
Then there are the peas, tender and sweet. I have never met anyone who did not love standing in a garden shelling
peas and eating them on the spot, it’s tough to stop.”

 

When asked about his growing philosophy, Ian says they strive to have as much of a ‘closed loop’ as possible. This means
using as little off farm inputs as they can, saving seeds and growing crops specifically for green manure to improve the
soil quality. Along with these great techniques, Ian and his family strongly believe in the power of enthusiasm in one’s
work. Ian’s warm and enthusiastic attitude has contributed greatly to his success in making Beetnik Farm a ‘growing
food’ enterprise.

 

When asked what steps he thinks Victorians can make to improve local food security, Ian responds with a call for
community support of local producers and businesses. This support, he says, must include going back to preparing
meals using fresh ingredients that are seasonally available. It is this seasonal food philosophy and local support which
Niagara Grocery works to achieve through connections with small-scale farmers and producers such as Beetnik Farm.
Without these producers, the ability of a business such as ours to provide the community with healthy, fresh,
seasonal produce would cease to exist. Beetnik Farm is our local food inspiration…who’s yours?