Long Table Dinner- On The Farm With: Jasbir Mandair

We are happy to announce that Chef Jasbir of Mandair Farms will be joining our Long Table Dinner once again! To get to know her personal tastes and creations a bit more she has kindly answered some questions for us.

What is your favourite thing to cook right now?

Nothing is my favourite. I like to make something new each time, experiment with different things and see how it turns out.

What is the first dish you cooked?

The first thing I ever made was dhal and roti.

What is your favourite vegetable from the market this week?

The tomatoes from the Okanagan farmers, Hill Top.

Best tip for home cooks?

Make sure that you have all the ingredients for what you are going to make but also have a well stocked spice cabinet.

Tell us something about your long table dinner dish.

It is going to be a samosa chaat. It is a spin off from your typical indian Chaat Appetizer. Some ingredients will be fresh lettuce, diced fresh cucumber tomato, and onions topped with plain yogurt and my famous tamarind chutney.

Getting to Know: Mandair Farms

The Farmers markets is what keeps me going, it gives me the strength to do what I do when people show their support and buy from us locally.

Mandair Farms has been a part of the Coquitlam Farmers Market for many years. Now run by a core team of five family members all of whom are under 25 except for matriarch Jasbir, the farm uses sustainable agriculture to produce some of the best fruit in the province!

Running out of Abbotsford, son and manager of all farming operations, Sajan says he is proud of what his young team has accomplished this year. Despite their young age, they still focuse on core values.

I am always looking for new innovative ways to run the farm and the business. I recently just went to Scotland for the international “Bridging the Gap” program that focused on passing down information from the older generation in Europe to the new young generation that is interested in sustainable farming.- Sajan

Mandair farms uses the best of both worlds in terms of conventional farming as well as organic methods. The family believes that both methods have pro’s and con’s and try to integrate them in order to create the best product.

In terms of keeping it sustainable, if there is a need to spray to save the crop we will do so instead of letting all of the hard work go to waste. Remember; spraying costs money, if we don’t need to we won’t spray.

Some of these practices have been passed through generations. Mother and guider, Jasbir grew up in a family of farmers.

My family has always farmed, even back in India. My grandmother used to grow food just to donate to the people that did not have anything, so I was born into. I have raised my kids into farming as well, my son now manages all the farming operations after his father passed away two years ago.-Jasbir

Mandair Farms began selling their produce to markets based on a fluke situation. With crop left over and a need to sell, Jasbir discovered the chain a farmers markets across the province.

I did not apply or contact anyone, I just showed up one Sunday and I think it was Tammi that was the assistant market manager. She asked who I was, and didn’t question that I wasn’t supposed to be there but let me set up. The following week Tabitha turned me away but told me about the application process. Since then markets have become our primary store front.

Jasbir says growing in B.C. posses no real difficulty in terms of production. The weather is good, the land is good and water is the absolute best. What she finds most challenging is finding suitable people to help out with operations.

The new generation doesn’t want to work in the farm doing labor. The other difficulty is selling the product to actually make a living. We can have a really good crop but the price that is paid from the cannery is sometimes not even enough to make ends meet.

Despite this, the passion to farm and the love of community continues to drive Mandair Farms. Jasbir says seeing where your food is coming from and speaking to the farmer that grew it really helps to connect people with the food that they eat, and supporting the farmer will always feel good.

Supporting local supports the local economy, if you buy from a local farmer they are able to increase their production to support the demand and therefore provide jobs to people in the community.

Jasbir argues locally grown food is the best for your health for many reasons. It is grown close to home and comes straight from the farm without being stored for longer periods of time. She also says the taste of locally grown produce will lead to higher satisfaction knowing your meals are healthy and homemade.

…so my first market was under an umbrella tent with a small table on a very rainy day.