There’s a new veggie box program — or CSA — with a cultural component, starting this summer in Chilliwack.
The 2016 Gathering Basket Program will be Wednesdays on the Coqualeetza grounds at the Sto:lo Nation site on Vedder Road.
The fresh produce is being grown on Spapium Farm in Lytton, delivered on a weekly basis for the basket program.
“My grandfather Raymond Thom left the family farm in my care,” said coordinator Paula Cranmer-Underhill.
Although they live in Chilliwack, their four-acre family farm is located in Canada’s hotspot, Lytton.
For this first season, the goal is to sign up 20 people/households for the 2016 Gathering Basket CSA program.
“We’re ready,” she said. “Our target is manageable, and we already have a few members signed up.”
CSA – or Community Supported Agriculture – is an approach that allows program members to purchase produce up front, supporting and paying the farmers for the entire season.
Cranmer-Underhill has a long history of working and living in Sto:lo territory, and is looking forward to sharing the wealth from the land.
Her daughters Brianna and Danielle (pictured) and husband Brian help out immensely
“We wanted to make sure they have access to good, fresh food,” she said. “It’s important that people know where their food is coming from.”
The farm is called ‘Spapium,’ meaning ‘little prairie’ in the traditional language of the Nlaka’pamux people in the Thompson River area.
A wide range of produce is being grown on the farm from tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and carrots, to green peppers, and hot peppers. There’s eggplant, onions and zucchini on the way, as well as beans and potatoes.
“I am also planting some indigenous foods, that can be used for traditional medicine,” she said.
So far the plan in terms of the medicinals and some artisan materials, is to harvest cedar roots, wild potatoes, rosehips, soap berries, Saskatoon berries, and mullein for example. They will likely be available by the fall, she said, and will include cedar hats, bracelets and some jewellery.
They’re harvesting produce for a second season this summer from the farm. The first year was a trial run, and they were swimming in veggies.
They don’t use pesticides, growing the fresh produce naturally.
“We don’t have a lot of pests. We had a bear in the garden, though, that ate some hot peppers and took off, never to be seen again!”
The new CSA program will offer small, medium and large veggie basket options delivered to Coqualeetza on, as well as a market on-site Wednesdays, and online ordering.
“That will be a nice setting for it, too, right in the middle of the Sto:lo Tourism efforts at the site,” she said.
There are plans as well to deliver orders to That Local Market in Central Community Park in downtown Chilliwack on Saturdays.
Spapium Farm, 2016 Gathering Basket program, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays at Coqualeetza, starting on July 13, until Nov. 9.
See more at https://spapiumfarm.ca/