"What the what?!" I turned almost completely around in my seat. "Drive through corn? What the heck is that?"
Chilliwack, I was to learn shortly, is FULL of drive by corn stands, but that isn't where it ends. You'll see stands selling strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and some selling all kinds of various produce. You can't go anywhere in town without practically tripping over a farm stand. I'm determined to only shop for produce at farm stands this summer, and report back to you on Fridays.
This week I stopped by The Veggie Shack, out on Prest Road just off of Highway 1 on the Sardis side of the highway. As you come down Prest Road The Veggie Shack is on the right, but parking is a bit further down on the left.
What separates this farm stand from the others is the variety of things you can buy; not just farm grown veggies (you can see the vines the heirloom tomatoes grew on from the stand), but local honey, handmade bread, jams, and more. As I browsed, the owners and I began talking and ended up chatting for almost 20 minutes about good, wholesome, local food and how important it is. How food education is important. Where the food comes from, how it's grown, and why we need to eat this way. Friendly, helpful, and full of ideas for how to eat their wonderful produce, the owners are really amazing people. I can't wait to get to know them better as I go back again and again this summer.
I'm in love with this Veggie Shack.
Right now, you'll find lots of local raspberries, blueberries, and cherries. Corn isn't ready yet so you must wait on that, but there are lots of nugget potatoes, herbs, apricots, green beans, spicy peppers, and sweet peppers. Apparently I had gone on a day where things were running a little low but I was told to return in a few weeks and they will be busting with food. That's just how farms work, you see. You have to go with what is ready, when. The prices, I find, are no different than if you went to Kin's market. In fact at times they are a little cheaper. The plus to shopping at a veggie farm is you are supporting your local farmer, not a farm in California where things are trucked up the I-5, and picked green weeks before. This stuff? Fresh off the vine.
The Veggie Shack accepts Interact payment, which is unusual for a farm stand, and they are open early, seven days a week. How early is early? I'm not really sure but I was told that "People are sometimes really surprised how early we are open." I may have to check on that. Sometimes special items are available; a local girl might bake some bread to sell, someone close by may whip up some cookies, or there could be something special that will appear. Here is where it's handy to get to know your farmers, because they may let you in on when the best local products will be hitting their shelves.
Part of having a farm stand is educating people, too.
"People sometimes don't buy these tomatoes because they don't look like your standard hot house," I was told "Sometimes people say they are ugly. But these are heirloom tomatoes, they are supposed to look different. They taste different, too. This is how tomatoes are supposed to look, not that perfect thing you see at the store. They are beautiful."
Drop by the Veggie Shack 7 days a week to see what they have. Produce varies from day to day, depending on what's available. In late July and August, the stand will be bursting with all kinds of produce. I will ask about the hours, but I'm guessing standard store hours might apply. I was not asked or compensated to write this post, all opinions are my own.
Chasing Tomatoes now has a Facebook page! You'll find links there to articles that I've written in various sites, food tips, recipes, and more!