I drove up to Pemberton last week to interview Bruce and Brenda Miller who own a 500 acre farm 7 miles north of Pemberton on Pemberton Meadows Road. It was a beautiful sunny day and the mountains could be seen clearly, rising above the valley floor. Almost to the driveway of their house my three year old, stuffed into her car seat in the back, took in the scenery and exclaimed, "bootiful momma."
It is exceptionally beautiful country. This farm has been in the Miller family since 1912 and while over half of it remains a wilderness of wetlands and old growth cedars, the other half produces seed potato crops and a stunning variety of organic produce. The latter endeavour, growing organic vegetables, is a relatively new development. Demands and support of friends and neighbours pushed the little family vegetable garden to become a full fledged company, called Across the Creek Organics, which has grown significantly since its inception six years ago.
Across the Creek Organics is community supported agriculture (CSA), whereby, Bruce explains, farm fresh vegetables are delivered in boxes to members of the local community. Unlike other box delivery systems, the produce delivered to a customers doorstep is at its nutritional and flavour peak, having been harvested and washed either that morning or the previous afternoon. This ensures that the quality of the produce delivered to your door can only be beat by harvesting from your own garden if you have one.
Produce in the grocery store, often harvested from farms that are at least a truck drive away, is warehoused before being shipped to stores. Once it hits the shelves produce is usually already a week old. The longer the length of time between picking and consuming the more nutritional value decreases. This is why flash frozen vegetables have greater nutritional value when compared to the same product bought off a grocery store shelf. Fresh vegetables, consumed shortly after being harvested deliver the best nutritional benefit and are by far the best tasting ones, too.
I was a little nervous bringing my two kids to the Millers house, after all toting an infant and a toddler isnt professional when trying to conduct an interview, but I was pressed for childcare. My worries were unfounded, however, as Bruce and Brenda are parents to five boys and they were genuinely warm and accepting.
Their experimentation with organic foods began when one of their sons, diagnosed as a child with special needs, was placed on an eight month waiting list to live away from the family in a care facility. Having tried everything else, Brenda says, she panicked and turned to changing their diet. Surprisingly, the change to eating organically helped.