If you’re a local in Edmonton, you likely have already seen the Sunworks Organic Farm Products at your local Farmer’s Markets, but have you ever tried them? We have been Sunworks Fans since I found their products at Blush Lane Organic Market on Whyte Avenue last year. While I stacked literally one of each of their products on the pay-counter that first time, the cashier remarked that she loved their sausages! Well, after we tried them, there was a continuous supply of their product available in our freezer. So you can imagine that when we received an invite to their Farm Tour and Dinner, we jumped at meeting Ron, Shelia and Issac to see how they run the farm.
Meet Ron, Sheila & Isaac:
These are the main figureheads behind the Sunworks Farm and Products. They’re an unlikely bunch of farmers, seeing as neither Ron or Sheila were raised on a farm. In fact, it was only later on in life, after they had children, that they decided to buy the farm in 1992. Since then, they have learnt several unique, and sustainable practices which Ron, our tour guide, was only too excited to share with us on our Tour.
About Sunworks Farm:
Sunworks Farm, located near Armena, is not only the home of Ron and Sheila Hamilton, but it also houses lots of happy chickens, hens, turkeys, cattle, and pigs. We were lucky enough to get an in-depth tour into the runnings of the entire farm! Not one thing missed.
We started out with the tour of the farm with an initial introduction to how the farm started and the values which continue to influence their farming. Then we got to see their little sweet week-old chickies in the barn. Once they get a full set of feathers, they will be moved to the outside barns so they can feed on the grass.
Next we saw where the employees of the farm hand-wash 2100 dozen eggs a week, after hand-picking them from the barns. Yes – that is a lot of hard work and effort in order to guarantee the quality of their product. One of the many things we proud impressive during the tour.
Then we visited the cattle happily grazing away on the pasture, with the chickens in the barns to the side of them also happily grazing away at their fresh grass. As we got closer to the barns, they all sang to us, excited to see people. It truly was reassuring to see such happy and healthy animals on the farm. But one can really expect no less from Sunworks.
We also viewed their newest addition to the farm, the processing plant. Being able to understand each and every step in the process plus seeing how well maintained the plant is kept by Facility Manager, Carlos, we were all rest assured that we are getting the best product available.
If you would like to read about our tour from another blogger, Sugar Love Spices also wrote up a lovely piece about Sunworks here.
After a 2-hour long tour of catching whiffs of the food cooking down the hall, we all sat down to a 5-course meal prepared by Chef Kevin Zellweger and his wife of the Quarter Section Food Company. For the first course, we indulged in the sausages and charcuterie boards of meat from Sunworks. Second course was a beautifully light salad topped with goats cheese. Then came a mushroom and wild asparagus risotto which showcased the chicken leg confit on top. Fourth, and my personal favourite, the Gluten-free Wellington with lovely crisp wild asparagus and carrots. Sheila and I, both being gluten-free enjoyed this course as we never get to have indulgent pastry crust in our meals. But the beef was truly incredible. Sheila thanked Chef Kevin for cooking their product in a way that their meat still tasted like their product, truly showcasing how much better their meat tastes compared to conventionally farmed beef.
And lastly, the dessert. Although, no Sunworks Products were used in the making of this slice of chocolate heaven, it showcased what the Quarter Section Food Company will have on offer in their soon-to-be-bistro in Leduc. That, plus gluten-free croissants, means I’ll be anticipating the opening!
Why Should You Buy Their Products?
There are so many reasons why I feel this Farm and their products should be on your list to buy at the next Farmer’s Market, but here are just a few that we really believe other products cannot compete with.
#1: Ron & Sheila Care = Great Quality Products:
What we really took from the whole event is that Ron and Sheila genuinely care so much about their Farm, the animals and the products they produce. There is NO compromise on quality. For that very reason, they added their own state of the art processing plant to the Farm to ensure they have full control of their product and can guarantee their quality. When you ask any of them questions, they’re very willing to explain the processes and it is evident that they are incredibly passionate about what they do. This is the kind of dedication we should expect of all our farmers and the their produce.
#2: Grass-fed, Organic & Humanely Grown Food:
Grass-fed produce is the new ‘trend’ in the health food world that we are completely on board with. The bottom line is that all meat is not created the same and a number of studies have revealed that meat from grass-eating cows has nutritional advantages over conventionally raised cattle. Meat and eggs from grass-fed animals supplies our bodies with a natural source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, CLA and Beta-Carotene. In fact, Sunworks beef boasts a 2:1 Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio.
Sunworks’ cattle are free to graze on their pasture and given organic hay in the winter. Their chickens are housed in movable-barns in order to move them everyday towards a fresh, grassier patch once they’ve demolished the grass in their barn (Isn’t that such an interesting technique?). In the winter, the poultry is brought inside and are fed certified organic alfalfa. Their pigs remain outside and are fed certified organic hay and alfalfa with free choice grain.
Sunworks Farm is certified organic by Eco Cert. Organic means that their products are free of antibiotics, hormones, synthetic pesticides and herbicides and genetically modified ingredients.
They’ve also been certified humane by the BCSPCA since 2005. This means that they are committed to raising their animals in a humane, respectful and dignified manner. Sheila personally ensures that all chickens are dispatched as quickly and humanely as possible. On processing day, this is usually around 2500 chickens.
#3: It’s Local:
We’re constantly encouraging each other to all buy local yet so often people resort to a big-chain food-store instead. Yes, it may be ‘easier’. But eating locally allows you to gain knowledge of where your food actually comes from. With Sunworks, you can buy their products from one of the Farmer’s Markets and you can meet the actual farmers & producers of your food. As a result, you can ask them questions and they become directly accountable to their customers. Ron, Sheila & Isaac love want you to be informed about the meat that you are eating. And they’re always happy to answer your questions at the Markets.
Next time you’re at one of the Markets, please give them a shout out for me! 🙂 They would love to meet and hear from you.
#4: Their Products are Celiac Safe and Allergy-Free
As I said, Sheila and I share this struggle. Consequently, they’re committed to ensuring their products are available as celiac safe and allergy-free.
#5: They’re Committed To Sustainability:
And you should be too. Ron, Sheila and Isaac do this in several different ways. They use holistic management in their farming, in order to be the best keepers of the earth. By allowing their cattle to moderately graze a controlled section of the field, and then move them to a new fresh patch to do the same, they help restore the quality of the once degraded soil that lay there. Ron explains how every now and then he brings a shovel out to check how deep the top soil now lies – and it kind of reminds me of a proud parent. There is no lack of passion for their values.
There is nothing wasted in the processing of their products. The bones are sold off to businesses who make broth and ground down to make compost. The old shavings that are cleaned out of the chick barns are also sold off to businesses who make compost. You can read more about their commitment to sustainability here. I hope their passion encourages you to do your bit for the world too!
Where To Find Their Products:
- The Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market is Open Today 8am to 3pm.
- The The Market on Macleod is Open today until 5pm
- The St. Albert Farmers’ Market is Open from 10am to 3pm today
- The Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market is Open every Wednesday from 4:00pm to 7:30pm.
- The Blush Lane Store.
Want To Visit Their Farm Too?
Visit them on their annual Family Farm Day on Labour Day Monday in September. The day starts with a BBQ lunch, followed by a Q & A session and a tour of the farm – just like we did. Check out Juicy Green Mom’s blog post here on when she attended the event last year.
Thank you again to Ron and Sheila for inviting us! We are fans for life. It has been an interesting adjustment to find products we can really rely on since moving here. Thank you for all that you do to give us the best quality food possible.
PIN THIS SO WE CAN GET THE WORD OUT
Disclaimer: We were invited to this event as bloggers in exchange for this write up. However, all opinions above are our own and we received no compensation for this blog post.