A Friendly Farm Gate Chat

Dear readers, how would you like to go shopping with us today? Remember, I can see when you roll your eyes. I promise it will be a shopping trip like no other you have likely been on recently. Today is the opening of Mayne Island’s Farm Gate store.

Farm Gate is the dream and shared vision of Don and Shanti McDougall who own and operate Mayne Island’s Deacon Vale Farm. Striving for local, organic and the best ingredients, the Farm Gate Store experience is about getting beyond either or thinking. When you have a love for food and community like the McDougalls this is no surprise.

At  the storefront we stopped to look at a great new sculpture by local artist and cob home expert Pat Hennebery.

Here we are at the Farm Gate store’s side entrance. A family has arrived ahead of us on bicycles to Mayne Island’s newest food place at the edge of the woods.

We are thinking maybe we will go by bicycle next visit. As we go inside we are greeted warmly by friends and neighbours and the store owners alike.

There are no strangers at the Farm Gate Store. Only new friends.

Customers decide between all of the quality choices local to “the islands” and British Columbia and a few exceptional import goods.

Locally, in our northern hemisphere, this time of year there are mostly  kale, mushrooms and a few greens and winter vegetables.

And please don’t tell anyone but I dislike kale. I know that is not very back-to-earth of me but I just can’t help it. To have the best eco-friendly variety and a balanced diet is to eat what is local, organic and in season closest to us.

Okay, so opening morning, one hour after being oriented on a new check out system that has just been installed, can be a little daunting. Though the learning curve is steep for the tellers, even young customers are happy to chill.

After all, this is the event of our day – no need to rush out the door to plant the spring peas. They will wait.

So let’s see some of the things we brought home. I have laid them out on a Deacon Vale Farm apron I was given in the check out line up.

I did not need a gift for waiting but I shall treasure it for its thoughtfulness and to remember the pleasure of opening day at the Farm Gate Store. We mostly bought celebratory foods. Partly because we know we can go back again for “a real shop” and partly because today truly was to celebrate. We wanted to have a friendly Farm Gate chat to welcome the Farm Gate Store as neighbours to neighbours.

Hum, I suppose I must confess that the hippie chip purchase was mostly for their name …… but they are also delicious!

See was I right? Are you not glad you came shopping with us today? If you are interested, there are more photos and information on the Farm Gate Store Facebook page.

Three cheers for community supported agriculture! Remember, the closer the greens are from the garden to your plate the more tasty goodness.

Sprout question: What locally grown foods feed your creativity?

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Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

19 thoughts on “A Friendly Farm Gate Chat

  1. creativity is not my favorite word to describe what i do as an artist however when it comes to cooking and and sharing something wonderful to eat with someone it is just perfect.
    you can find a pretty good farmers market around town any day of the week but a couple of them are amazing. If you go early enough there will still be a spectacular selection of mushrooms when they are in season. i like all the variety of vegetables and greens especially the beets. When they have all the different kinds of potatoes i cant help but get a few of each variety. When i get everything home then its time to meal plan and thats where the creativity comes in.

    • Jerry you have inspired a long musing from me by your comment 🙂 …

      Jerry I am not surprised, even though you have been a longstanding participant here on Creative Potager, that creativity is not your favourite word to describe what you do as an artist. I admiringly experience what you do as an artist as, in the first instance, disciplined. You have more than once commented on Creative Potager not attributing your art to a muse but rather to a scheduled practice. Since so often I find there is a disowning of artists, writers and photographers of their coming out of a disciplined practice of their craft, I appreciate your frank refusal to give over or ascribing your work to some external force such a creativity, the will of the muse or god/goddess speaking through your lines or brush.

      So for the purposes of discussion, I am going to challenge readers to consider this is an outstanding opportunity for a both/and approach to our work as artists, writers, photographers and creative beings. I find that my ability to freely express is rooted in a good disciplined practice. I also find that this practice is best held by intention as I tend to resist rigorous scheduling of my physical time. But that scheduling and commitment to practicing a craft is precisely what pushes our work to improve. I do not set my clock to paint but I set the years intention to paint. In January, I also made a commitment to have 15 to 20 new paintings ready for a solo show at the end of June. These two factors influence my daily discipline to paint. This is my personal strategy to get around a gripping resistance to “having to do” or physically disciplined by a schedule which most often leaves my work tight, stiff and fighting its very expression. For me this is the both/and approach to discipline and to inviting my muse or creative expression and freedom into my art.

      My experience of Jerry’s work seems to come from the other side of this same equation – discipline of scheduled time painting and drawing leading to freedom of artistic expression. This reminds me of more than one art instructor who has said that if you start painting everyday at 10:00 am pretty soon your mind and body begins to frame the world as a painter when it is 10:00 am. Our mind and body does not think about sorting the laundry, phoning a friend, getting something to eat. It is ready to paint. Thereby our discipline has created the void in our schedule that is to be filled with the practice of painting. Is one way better than the other? I don’t know. I have always wished I could approach my work as Jerry does but I fear not much of value would come of it if I did. However, I trust the process that Jerry uses and I have found gentle ways (or possibly a big stick) to get me to pick up the brush and paint or take out the camera and shoot. I set self imposed deadlines and then publicly through my blog and conversations and commitments to others work towards them.

      Here are my tentative conclusions:

      Is it realistic to attribute our disciplined hard work to some muse who supposedly took control of our being and created without any effort on our part?

      Is it realistic to deny the creative influence of a part of ourself we do not have conscious control over – be it muse or god – when we paint, write or frame an image through the camera lens?

      Is there one without the other?

      I believe my answer is “no” to each question. I believe that our art, our writing and any other creative expression requires both – we need to acknowledge our discipline, our practice AND the influence of what we do not know or consciously understand that is expressed within each piece of work.

      Whether it is the creative effort of meal planning using a newly purchased collection of outstanding ingredients or the creative effort of deciding what to paint using a newly purchased collection of outstanding canvases, there always seems to be an unmistakable element of sureness that comes with practice and the courage to move beyond what is already known while inviting the unexpected or muse into our work.

      What are your thoughts? I would love to discuss this sometimes thorny tension further.

      • thanks Terrill
        You have given me much to think about not just in your response here but as long as i have been following Creativepotager’s Blog and for that i am in your debt.
        I have mentioned that creativity is not my favorite words, more than once, along with inspiration and i am sure there are a few other words i am not fond of.
        By no means is it my intention to suggest these terms are not useful for any one else to describe there process. I encourage and support any approach which fosters artistic development and self expression.
        I think “inviting the unexpected” is very good language expressing an essential component in learning and for growth as an artist.
        I don’t think i would deny the influence of a part of ourself we do not have conscious control over in the contrary i believe that is the biggest part of what we are i simply do not attribute it to a muse, inspiration or a connection to god. I envy artist who are inspired and are driven to create and feel the influence of a muse. My aim in what i do as an artist is to find that place of un-attachment and work while always remembering to strive for consciousness. I don’t think i am at the level of human consciousness where i am able to tap into that which is so far beyond my grasp be it muse or god.
        I hope this has not been to thorny

      • Jerry your response is not too thorny at all. How can we explore and find words for our process if we can’t open ourselves to the views and experiences of others? I find what you have added here takes the discussion into its complexity without loosing the line of focus. I am ready to go there and deeply appreciate the time you have taken to reflect and respond to my earlier musings. Your comment is a gem and I am glad to have it posted here to engage Creative Potager readers. Thank you!

  2. Oh my gosh Terrill – this is so darned COOL! I’m so glad you share your idyllic island community with us.

    Sprout question: What food feeds your creativity?

    Last night a small group of gal pals met and our main course was pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches–they were delicious! And since today is a writing day, I can say that they are, indeed, fueling my creativity.

    • All the best with your writing day Laurie!

      Just so you know, Mayne Island is not really any more idyllic than most communities. The Farm Gate Store worked for well over a year jumping through both bylaw and community hurdles that were frustrating and sometimes extremely hurtful for the store owners – but they didn’t give up and they continually reached out and held their community in the highest regard. Because of their persistence and belief in what they are doing, today we have this amazing store which brings our island one step further along a path towards locally sustainable food production.

  3. I thought I did not like Kale until my CSA gave me a lovely recipe for it and also sent me many different kinds. Kale like spinach needs to be limited for those of us who readily get kidney stones.

    My food thoughts for today are about the opening of our amazing farmer’s market this weekend – right through to next New Year’s Eve. What a wonderful way to see friends and enjoy the sites – it was a very wet experience, but so much fun.

    Hippie Chips sound good! My friend Davina in Vancouver BC shared a recipe for Kale chips that sounds oh so good – though the coconut oil is from far away

    I am also fasting, carbon fasting and food fasting with the Bread for the World group – I wrote a whole post about this for April 4…I am not eating 2 meals a day and sending love and energy to the “least of these” in our world…also love to our government representatives to have them do the moral thing – not the “pay off corporations” thing.

    great pictures and fun post…Thank you for sharing

  4. What a wonderful photo essay here Terrill, giving so many a glimpse at the island routines and of the people who sustain the management of these modest shopping depots. No doubt when we see food display within these counters we are thinking “fresh,” “delicious,” “healthy” and “un-tampered with.” As our good friend Laurie knows and promotes, health food is a catalyst for creativity on all fronts, and I always feel physically ready to impart my best spurts of energy after meals of salmon, broccoli and blueberries. We have a WHOLE FOODS store in our midst here that offers up some amazing slections, but I’ve love to have the chance to shop at the intimate Farm Gate store, and pick up some kale.

    • There is that word “kale” again Sam. Do you have kale in New Jersey? Have you seen it on your way to the theater in New York City? Salmon, broccoli and blueberries are some of my favourite foods. Yum!

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    • Sam Juilano writes the most amazing Monday Morning Dairy posts. For many months, maybe as long as a year now he includes a link to the latest posts he has read on Creative Potager. He does this for many of his regular blogging connections. So not only do we get the benefit of his perspective on the films he has been watching or the plays he has seen we also get to connect with a warm, talented and inspiring blogging community.

      Dear readers, if you haven’t visited yet, I highly recommend you stop by.

  6. Dear Terrill,
    Instead of answering your question, please allow me to cry on your shoulder. As we were riding on a ferry to, among other things, address needs that sadly can’t be fulfilled on our tiny island, an island neighbour who sat with us said, “I guess we’re missing the opening.”
    “Opening,” we asked.
    “Yes, for Farm Gate.”
    “What? No.” I swear my husband looked like he was prepared to swim home.
    So, yes, my friend, I am jealous of your shopping event.
    Three cheers for Farm Gate! May April 2nd serve as the first day of many (very, very many) to come.

    • Oh Leanne I do dislike when this happens! I would have been like your dear husband …. ready to jump overboard. This missing out on things happens to me a few times a year where I know I really want to do something and then — poof! I miss it. The nice thing is you will get another chance to browse the shelves and discover all the goodness awaiting you there.

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