Sunday, February 17, 2019

Start in Sturgeon Blog


Welcome to the Start in Sturgeon Blog. Check here often for great articles about the County's Economic Development and other relevant issues.

With the summer season coming to an end, I took my last visit to Peas on Earth organic farm in the Sturgeon Valley area. I’ve driven by the farm a few times on my way to work, wondering what vegetables make up the perfect rows of yellow, purple and different shades of green that dot the landscape. It’s quite a fascinating to see these colors change with the season. Each row is a different colour, and combined they create a beautiful patchwork quilt. I wish I could use time lapse photography to capture what I’m trying to describe. Peas on Earth is simply a terrific place to be…close your eyes, enjoy the calmness and gentle breeze around you…open your eyes and feast them on the vivid colors of peas, spinach, squash, zucchini, greens, corn, beets, carrots – yum!

Photos taken by Margaret Bose –Johnson of Kitchen Frau

The Farm

Peas on Earth Organic Farm is nestled in the plains of Sturgeon County, a 65 acre certified organic market garden, owned and operated by Eric and Ruby Chen. Before establishing Peas on Earth in 2000, Eric operated a small farm around north Edmonton. Eric comes from an agricultural family while Ruby has a background in business – these two couldn’t be better suited for running this successful venture together. When the couple initially bought the land from its previous owners, it was an empty field with no trees. Eric and Ruby saw a ripe opportunity for investment, starting with a green house and then expanding into acres of organic crops. The couple are looking to expand the farm and exploring the idea of using the log building on their farm for business retreats and weddings – not a far stretch, considering that they hosted local chef, Blair Lebsack at an outdoor, farm to table dinner. This event included a five course dinner and wine pairings....oooh, I’m getting the cravings!

So why organic?

It is not just about better flavour and nutrition. It is about being part of a food cycle that cares for people and the environment. Price comparisons are often made between conventional and organic food items. The price of food is directly correlated to the number of labour hours spent on production.  Organic food is much more labour intensive because farmers do not rely on mechanical and chemical inputs at the same level as some conventional production. The Chens practice crop rotation and use green manure crops, grown as ground covers or plowed down, to build fertility and improve the soil. Eric admits that one of the biggest challenges of farming can be finding a healthy work/life balance. Because farmers love their work, it can be hard to remember to make time to do things not necessarily farm-related. Eric and Ruby find satisfaction in providing their customers with organically grown, healthy, nutritious, and most importantly, delicious produce.

Is organic labelling a gimmick?

No, organic food is the most highly regulated food in Canada. There is an extensive regulatory framework that ensures every farm, producer, processor and distributor is inspected at least once per year. Every producer pays for its own certification and inspection costs and works in partnership with the Canada Food Inspection Agency to ensure food labelled organic is truly organic.

Visiting the farm was such a refreshing treat! Eric and Ruby were so hospitable and generous. I left with samples from their farm and a big smile! J. Peas on Earth has established itself at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, the St. Albert Outdoor Farmers’ Market, the Callingwood Farmers’ Market, and the Organic Box home delivery program. The farm is located at 24527 Sturgeon Road, Sturgeon County. Check out their website at or call 780-973-6680.

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