Getting to Know: Red Barn Plants & Produce

The Coquitlam Farmer’s Market is a food hub and draws in a great cross section of shoppers.

While Elke, Ken and their son Erik manage farms separated by distance, the desire to grow quality produce binds them like they were run next to each other. Ken and his wife have been growing plants since the 1970’s, first developing Rainforest Gardens, a retail and mail order perennial nursery. He says his sons desire to dive into the food side of farming is what has gotten them where they are today.

Erik started it all, taking over areas of our nursery and then moving to Cawston. Amazing to think we are now heading to 100% veggies and fruit production.

In the 2000’s their passion blossomed into Red Barn Plants & Produce growers of interesting vegetables, herbs, edible annuals and of course intriguing perennials. The family currently has one farm located in Maple Ridge and another situated in Cawston. Prior to his adult farming days, he grew up around plants, stemming from his mother’s love of growing produce.

My mother was a farm girl and she always seemed to have a packet of seed around for us.

Elke and Ken say their two farm locations are a large reason why they can grow a good selection of plants, fruits and vegetables. So as a food producer in British Columbia, why is it important to buy locally?

I am going to take the glass half full answer to this. Keeps money and employment local. Half empty answer; what if something goes wrong out there
in the big world?

Ken says the success of the buy local movement rides on the principle that farmers’ voices are heard and understood.

Farmers must be heard not just the food advocates.

He adds that the movement should stop trying to expand and “create a solid foundation.” While Ken points to the fact that sustainability means something different to everyone, one thing Red Barn Plants & Produce focuses on is quality products with a strong focus on community engagement.


Getting to Know: Golden Ears Cheesecrafters

Farmers markets are a great place to be able to learn about company’s that grow local food or make local food products with local ingredients.

Growing on the foundation their family began in 1902, sisters Jenna and Emma have branched off and created their own line of dairy products with Golden Ears Cheesecrafters.

We love the fact that we have a family heritage to keep growing and diversifying with. We’re building a sustainable future for our family farm in this community and bringing people back to food basics, they can literally watch their cheese being made. That experience is something people value.

Growing locally in British Columbia is important for the sisters. With some of the world’s highest quality standards, Golden Ears Cheesecrafters wants to educate consumers about their products and be transparent with their practices.

It is important for us to grow locally and sustainably because we like to know where are food is coming from…Certified Organic in most countries is equivalent to our conventional practices. Canada has the least amount of approved chemicals that can be used on crops.

So with an expanding business, why take on farmers markets? For Jenna and Emma, it’s all about the power of knowledge.

Farmers markets are a great place to learn about how your food is made or grown. You can talk directly to producers or farmers and there is transparency.

They say this knowledge can help consumers make the best decisions for their lifestyles, adding sourcing local reduces carbon footprints and supports the local economy.

Farmers markets are a great place to be able to learn about company’s that grow local food or make local food products with local ingredients.

Jenna and Emma say the more people know about provincial food industries the better. With the B.C. Buy Local movement no longer in its infancy, they believe consumers will become more aware of the high quality products, like the dairy produced by Golden Ears Cheesecrafters.

 I see the B.C. Buy Local movement becoming more popular when sickness and diseases are happening because food being imported is not up to the standards that Canadian food processors or farmers have to meet. Canadian dairy is one of the highest standards in the world, farmers are not allowed to add any hormones, antibiotics of steroids to there milk. If they are caught they have to pay very high fines. No farmer can afford to have this happen or else they would all be out of work.

For Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, it is important to grow locally and sustainably because they, like many in this province, want to know where their food is coming from.

We would never make anything that we wouldn’t feed our family. Our goal was to produce a product that is healthy for everyone and that we could share with other families.


Fresh Eats Blog: Bell Peppers

Here at the Coquitlam Farmers Market we are all about local, seasonal and sustainably grown produce. What better way to celebrate the summer months than a fresh take on some familiar foods! This week’s topic: bell peppers.

Did you know red peppers are simply green ones left on the vine longer? (Courtesy of KT Ng)

Did You Know?

Did you know peppers were named by Spanish explorers searching for peppercorn plants to produce black pepper? Also, they are considered fruits because they are produced from a flowering plant and contain seeds.

Peppers are in season in South West British Columbia from July through to October! Bell peppers are the most cultivated in the pepper family and are good in salads, pizzas, soups, sandwiches, or eaten fresh as a snack.

Recipe of the Week

Bell Pepper Egg-in-a-Hole

Courtesy Martha Stewart 


2 teaspoons olive oil

1 bell pepper (any color), cut into four 1/2-inch-thick rings

4 large eggs

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 teaspoons grated Parmesan

4 slices multigrain (or other) bread, toasted

8 cups mixed salad greens


Step 1- Heat one teaspoon of oil over medium-high in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet. Add bell pepper, then crack one egg into the middle of each pepper ring.

Step 2- Season with salt and pepper and cook until egg whites are mostly set but yolks are still runny, this is about two to three minutes. Gently flip and cook one minute more for over easy.

Step 3- Sprinkle with Parmesan and place each egg on a slice of toast.

Step 4- Toss salad greens with one teaspoon of oil and season with salt and pepper; serve alongside eggs.

Ingredients at the Market

Bell Peppers: Floralia Growers, Never Say Die

Cheese: Golden Ears Cheesecrafters

Eggs: Alder Creek Heritage Homestead, Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm, Rockweld Farm

Bread: A Bread Affair, Delish Gluten Free, Gesundheit Bakery

Greens:  Amazia Farm, Beckmann Farm, Floralia Growers, Forstbauer Farms, Harvest Direct, Hill Top Farm, Langley Organic Growers, Mandair Farms, Never Say Die Farm, Ripple Creek Organic Farm, Shen’s Farm, Snowy Mountain Organics, Wah Fung Farm

Steps on How To

Bell Pepper Planting 101:

Step 1- As an option, plant three seeds in one pot, and thin out the weakest seedling. Let the remaining two pepper plants live as one plant. About a week before moving your plant into a bigger pot, introduce compost or other organic nutrients into the soil.

Step 2- Once the seedlings are large enough to transplant, place them 18-24 inches apart. Place the pot outdoors in a warm environment. You can warm up the soil by covering it with black plastic.

Step 3- Water the plants two to three times per week or if conditions are particularly dry, more frequent watering may be necessary. To help retain moisture you can add mulch to the surrounding area.

Step 4- Weed carefully around the plant and harvest as soon as the peppers reach desired size.

Note: Keep your plant as warm as possible for the best germination conditions. Also, the longer you keep the peppers on the vine, the greater vitamin C content.

Bell Peppers in B.C.

Bell peppers are considered a greenhouse vegetable by the B.C. government. The industry now relies on state-of-the-art facilities and production practices to produce high-quality fresh vegetables!

These advances in technology have extended the growing season and therefore has allowed consumers the option of buying locally during times when certain produce were not historically available.

Fresh Eats Blog: Cherries

Here at the Coquitlam Farmers Market we are all about local, seasonal and sustainably grown produce. What better way to celebrate the summer months than a fresh take on some familiar foods! This week’s topic: cherries.

Did you know cherries belong to the rose family?

Did You Know?

Did you know British Columbia grows 95% of Canada’s cherries? The cherry fruit is part of the Rosaceae family which also includes almonds, peaches, apricots and plums.

Cherries are in season in South West British Columbia for the months of July and August! They are known to have a very short fruiting season and can be among the earliest to ripen.

Recipe of the Week

Cherry Basil Bruschetta


2 Cups cherries
1/4 small red onion, or 1 shallot finely diced
1/4 Cup of basil
1/4 Cup chives
2 tsp red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 Cup feta or goat cheese.
pinch of salt & pepper


Step 1- Pit and chop cherries. In a small bowl mix together onions, cherries, and stir in basil, chives, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Step 2- Let sit while you prepare your baguette.
Step 3- Slice your baguette and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Step 4- Lightly toast in a 400F oven for about eight minutes, or until crisp.
Step 5- Spoon over toasted baguette slices.
Step 6- Crumble goat cheese or feta over the cherries and finish with a crack of black pepper.

Ingredients at the Market

Cherries: Harvest Direct Farms, Hill Top Farm, Snowy Mountain Organics

Cheese: Golden Ears Cheesecrafters

Bread: A Bread Affair, Delish Gluten Free, Gesundheit Bakery Ltd, Marie’s Guilt Free Bakery

Vinegar: Red Barn Plants & Produce

Basil: Ripple Creek, Forstbauer Farms, Floralia Growers

Chives: Floralia Growers

Steps on How To

Cherry Planting 101:

Step 1- Place seeds less than five centimetres down and about a half a meter apart in either a pot or the ground. Then fill the hole up to soil levels.

Step 2- After they have sprouted, space the cherries to about six meters apart. Like most plants, cherries don’t like being over crowded.

Step 3- Cherries need sun and water. BUT they do not grow well if they are waterlogged so keep the plant slightly moist and do not over water. Test the soil down to about eight centimetres and water whenever this depth feels dry.

Step 4- Add mulch or organic compost once the plant has sprouted. Fertilizer is best avoided with young trees because they are easy to burn. The compost should give plenty of nutrients.

Step 5- As an option, prune the cherry tree occasionally as this can help with its growth.

Note: You can add defences against birds such as hanging CDs from branches or fend off burrowing animals by building a physical barrier.

Cherries in B.C.

There are more than 1,000 types of cherries but approximately 20 are grown commercially in B.C. spread across about 3,500 acres. You can find some of these varieties right at the Coquitlam Farmers Market!

Did you know, Canada holds the record for baking the largest cherry pie in the world? One weighing in at 39,683 pounds was baked in Oliver, B.C. breaking the previous record.

Fresh Eats Blog: Radishes

Here at the Coquitlam Farmers Market we are all about local, seasonal and sustainably grown produce. What better way to celebrate the summer months than a fresh take on some familiar foods! This week’s topic: radishes.

Did you know every part of the radish is edible, including the leaves and developing seedpods?

 Did You Know?

Did you know radish plants are ideal for children’s gardens because they grow quickly? The scientific name for the genus that includes radishes is Greek for “quickly appearing.”

This low calorie food is in season in South West British Columbia for the months of June through to October. One cup of radishes is a mere 19 calories!

Recipe of the Week

Brown Butter Pan- Roasted Radishes


2 bunch radishes, assorted colours and types

2 Tbsp (30 mL) oil

½ tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper

2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted

1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice

lemon wedges

Radishes are trap crops against pests, protecting the surrounding crops from pests.


Step 1- Trim the radishes so half an inch (1 cm) of the stem is intact; trim and discard roots. Scrub well and dry well. Wash the leafy green tops, dry well and coarsely chop; set aside.

Step 2- Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the radishes, cut side down. Sprinkle with salt. While cooking, shake the skillet occasionally for about five to seven minutes until golden. As an option, stir for an additional three minutes or until lightly coloured all over.

Step 3- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for three minutes or until butter is starting to brown and smell nutty; remove from heat.

Step 4- Stir the brown butter and lemon juice into the radishes. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped greens. Serve with lemon wedges.

Ingredients at the Market

Radishes: Floralia Growers, Forstbauer Farm, Langley Organic Growers and Ripple Creek Organic Farm

Butter: Golden Ears Cheesecrafters

Steps on How To

Radish Planting 101:

Step 1- Place seeds one half to an inch deep and one inch apart into nutrient rich soil. You may choose to add manure or organic fertilizer to help with growth.

Step 2- After they have sprouted space the radishes to about two inches apart. Like most plants, radishes don’t like being over crowded.

Step 3- Radishes need sun. If they are planted in too much shade they will put all their energy into producing larger leaves.

Step 4- Harvest the plants promptly when the radishes are roughly the size of large marbles. This is before the roots get too woody and bitter.

Step 5- As an option, plant consecutively every two weeks or so if the weather is still cool for a continuous harvest of radishes.

Note: You can plant radishes in the fall, later than any other root crop in late summer or early fall and still get a harvest. Sowing radishes in the cooler times (March/April and again August through to October) is recommended. BUT for example, European radishes are planted in spring or summer and have a short cultivation time of three to four weeks.

Radishes in B.C.

The simplicity of growing radishes transitions right over into creating some delicious meals. All you need is a selection of radishes thinly sliced with some olive oil and herbs, and you’ve got yourself a perfect summer salad!

B.C. is one of the largest producers of radishes in Canada. As a country, radishes are a crop valued at more than $10 million.

Fresh Eats Blog: Strawberries

Here at the Coquitlam Farmers Market we are all about local, seasonal and sustainably grown produce. What better way to celebrate the summer months than a fresh take on some familiar foods! This week’s topic: strawberries.

Did you know Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring?

Did You Know?

Did you know strawberries are not really a fruit or a berry but are the enlarged receptacle of the flower?

This low calorie food is in season in South West British Columbia for the months of June through to September. Strawberries are very high in vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants.

 Recipes of the Week

Asparagus Salad with Strawberries, Radish, and Goat Cheese

Makes 2 servings

500 g (1 lb) fresh asparagus
125 ml (1/2 cup) sliced fresh strawberries
125 ml (1/2 cup) thinly sliced radishes
15 ml (1 tbsp) each snipped chives, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
15 ml (1 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
60 g (2 oz) fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Step One- Trim ends of asparagus and wash well. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt.
Have a bowl of ice water handy to chill asparagus after cooking.

Step Two- Drop asparagus in and boil for two minutes until just tender, then drain and plunge into ice water to
chill. Remove after it cools completely, drain and chill until ready to assemble salad.

Step Three- Arrange asparagus on a platter and top with sliced strawberries, radishes and
chives. Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil,
if desired. Sprinkle with goat cheese.

Strawberry Salsa

1 pound strawberries, diced (~2 cups)
1/4 cup red or green onion, finely diced or sliced
2 tbsp Aji (heat level of your choice)
1 tbsp KICS Lime or Lemon syrup (or fresh juice)
salt to taste

Courtesy of Karen Curtis with Kics Lemonade. 

Ingredients at the Market

Strawberries: Beckmann Farms, Floralia Growers and Mandair Farms
Asparagus: Amazia Farm and Langley Organic Growers
Chives: Amazia Farm, Langley Organic Growers, and Red Barn Plants and Produce
Radishes: Floralia Growers, Forstbauer Farm, Langley Organic Growers and Ripple Creek Organic Farm
Cheese: Golden Ears Cheesecrafters

Steps on How To

Strawberry Planting 101:

Step 1- Plant at the right time. This is determined by which plant you have chosen. For example, large fruiting varieties of strawberries are best planted in the summer while other varieties can be grown in late spring.

Step 2- Choosing a sunny spot to let your plant grow is key. The plant can produce strawberries in partial shade but the crop won’t be as successful as one in full sun.

Step 3- Ensure the plant has the right nutrients. Strawberries like rich soil full of well-decomposed organic material.

Step 4- You may choose to place the root ball into a bucket of water to soak for about an hour. This can be a helpful transition from pot to ground and helps the roots stay moist.

Step 5- Dig a hole in your chosen planting space. Ensure the crown of the plant is above the soil line.

Step 6- Pack the soil tightly around the plant and as an option, place mulch around it to help retain moisture and stay weed free.

Note: Strawberries need moisture so make sure the water meets the root of the plant- but be sure to not over do it!

Strawberries in B.C.

According to the B.C. Strawberry Growers Association, around 30 producers have been growing fresh strawberries in the Fraser Valley for over 30 years. There are plenty of growers in the Lower Mainland to choose from, so get out and buy local!

Berries are grown commercially for export and of course, local consumption. The producers of strawberries in B.C. are required to follow guidelines set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.