Plan B is taking hold – downtown farmer’s market growing. Open every Friday from 11 to 2

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 9, 2012  Her name is Alice and she is close to being the “breadwinner”, along with a herd of goats,  for Featherstone Family Farm on Guelph Line just past the heart of Lowville.  Alice shares the 25+ acre property with a herd of goats, all kinds of foul – chickens, ducks – a whopper of a sow and piglets galore.

Ruby – mother to dozens of piglets, lays in a cool spot away from the sucklings.

That plus three children who scamper about with next to no clothing – they are of an age where you can do that.  All is carefully watched over by Michelle Macdonald while her husband works the tractor mucking out the barn.

Chris the boarder, with Alice and Daisy the dog. The two brown beef cows are being grass fed for fall.

Chris, the boarder who lives in a trailer, rounds out the picture of the family at Featherstone Farm who are part of Halton’s rural community that includes not only the tony equestrian set but small market farmers who choose to live a different life style.

The first week of the Farmer’s Market, held every Friday between 11 and 2 in the John Street parking lot behind Centro Garden, went well.  The offerings were small but the atmosphere and the family feeling was worth the effort and the time.

The farmer’s market is still working through it’s identity – it is a part of something known as  Plan B, which is exactly what you would expect – the plan behind the first plan you had.  Except these people are focused on healthy eating and getting produce from local farms onto local kitchen tables.

Lettuce from California doesn’t make a lot of sense to the Plan B people.  Trucking food across a continent isn’t really sustainable from their point of view.  Focusing on local and knowing a bit more about the people who provide your  food is the direction they favour and anyone who sees the worlds the way the Plan B people do – might want to mosey along.

Barry Imber, a graphics designer by profession, has a thing about eating well and eating local produce, decided Burlington needed something downtown that was organic on its focus and he sort of made it happen.  The first week went well; the second Friday was blisteringly hot and it too went well.

Soap being readied for sale sits on a beam in the kitchen – “best place to cure it” says Michelle Macdonald, farm operator

The third Friday will see some additions to the offerings.  Michelle Macdonald will be bringing some hand made soap that is now ready for sale.  Made on her farm with pork lard, goat milk, lye and pure essential oils.  Some with lavender sprinkled into the soap square. They are currently in her house sitting up on beams where it is getting ready for sale.

The Macdonald farm sells eggs from the farm gate – there is never enough to go around.  They sell bacon and other pork products.  They use the milk from their herd of goats for other products they produce.  They are raising two beef cattle that will be ready for market later in the year.

The third week will see some growth in terms of the products offered and, if a Burlington resident chef who is well known and respected in the area for their passion for local natural foods and gastronomy, does not see the birth of a child they are expecting , they will be on site filling in the gaps with beef and game this week and eventually cheeses and other related products.

This chef – you have to be there Friday to learn who it is, will be drawing from his extensive list of natural food producers and farmer relationships will be doing some sample cooking and demonstrations from time to time.

Imber explains the situation thusly:  “The tentative thing here is that he is about to have a baby any minute so there is a chance he just can’t make it. I’ve insisted that the market not be a thought in his mind if it’s at all challenging to juggle a new baby, husband responsibilities and frozen meat.”  That “frozen meat”  is a clue I think to whom the chef is.

In the event that the baby arrives –the chef will be at the market on the 20th.

Featherstone was one of the mainstays at the first session of Burlington’s Friday Market that is held on John Street right behind the lush Centro Garden.

The Burlington initiative may get some coverage in Pure Green Magazine from Huntsville.  They will be joining the crowd at the market on the 20th.

So – the Plan B farmer’s market is taking on a life and style of its own.  Imber is working on a bakery source to add to the offerings.

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