It takes a lot of dedication and devotion to be a farmer, and of course lots of hard work. For the past 24 years the farmers at Nanoose Edibles near Nanoose Bay have been tilling the soil and providing organic fruits and vegetables not only to consumers but a wide range of restaurants as well. I was there recently for a visit and told Jo-Ann Roberts about my visit this afternoon on CBC Victoria’s All Points West program.
Barbara Ebell is one of the owners of Nanoose Edibles, along with her husband Lorne, and they’ve been farming this bucolic patch of land for over two decades now. I met Barbara at the Tofino Food and Wine Festival in June and was so fascinated by what she told me about the farm I put her on my ‘must-visit’ list for this summer, and Barbara was happy to show me around. We started at the gazebo on the edge of the farm, where there are a couple of offices for the business end of things but the view from the patio shows you the farm stretching out with both fruit and vegetable fields and the irrigation pond and a nice Canadian flag waving in the wind.
The garden was in transition when I was there, moving from just salad greens and collard greens to lots of broccoli and kale and chard along with rows and rows of broad beans. Of course, I call them by their Italian name, fava beans, and these beans have a rich history in the Mediterranean region, and like me, Barbara thinks they are vastly underrated:
“I was reading about them and then I realized they are a really great vegetable to get into when you are thinking about going vegetarian since they are high in protein, one cup of fava beans will give a woman 28 per cent of her recommended daily intake of protein, it’s 23 per cent for men.”
I brought Jo-Anne just a little taste of fava beans, along with another favourite of mine, snap peas. My assistant blanched the shelled fava beans in salted water for a couple of minutes, along with the snap peas, fished them out and put them right into an ice water bath to set the gorgeous green colour and stop them cooking. Then into a fry pan on gentle heat with some butter and olive oil and salt and pepper and that’s it. Oh, and a few hot pepper flakes! Thanks to my kitchen slave for the day, Meghan Kelly, for doing all the work on that dish…