Did you know it was BC Veggie Day last week?
During the long, dreary winter months our greenhouses are full of activity as new seedlings mature into ripe crops. The fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce and more are harvested and arrive in stores with the spring.
The BC Greenhouse Growers’ Association represents greenhouse vegetable farmers in British Columbia. Their growers produce 96 per cent of all of B.C.’s greenhouse vegetable production.This includes succulent tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce. Taking up only 0.01 percent of B.C.’s total farmland, these glass greenhouses produce about 11 per cent of the province’s total agriculture production value, feeding the people of B.C. and the world.
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to chat with a local grower from here in the Valley, Mitch, and his 10-year-old son Griffin, at the Real Canadian Superstore in Langley.
Next to a mountain of aromatic and freshly picked ruby-red tomatoes on the vine, the father and son team explained what goes on behind the scenes at Village Farms to produce such perfect picture-perfect looking toms.
“We use beneficial insects to control pests and stimulate healthy plant growth,” said Mitch, who has been honing his craft for years and currently oversees 24 hectres of greenhouse space at Village Farms.
The cutting edge glass greenhouse at Village Farms utilizes environmentally friendly and highly sustainable farming that enables them to grow food (tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and bell peppers) naturally, 365 days a year. This includes the use of parasitic wasps and predatory mites in lieu of pesticides.
“Outdoor plants are vulnerable to bugs and disease, but in a greenhouse this is much easier for us to control.’
It was obvious that Mitch is passionate about his job, and that he has a budding grower looking to fill his shoes one day.
“People here have been really curious about the bees and mites,” said Griffin, bravely holding a container of live insects.
“The bees keep our plants healthy by pollinating them. The predator insects like wasps and mites help combat the bad bugs.”
I have to admit, I assumed that unless you buy organic produce, there will be pesticides on your produce. Of course, I always give it a good wash before serving them to my family, but I take comfort in the fact that the tomatoes we have been eating for years are grown just 20 minutes away and are chemical-free. While I was at the store, I purchased a big bag of tomatoes and excited to make this tasty tart.
Yields: 1 x 8” tart
1 Lb (454 G) – Village Farms True Rebel Mix™ tomatoes
1 Oz (28 G) – Extra virgin olive oil
3/4 Cup (175 G) – Greek yogurt
1/3 Ea (120 G) – Luscious Seedless Long English® cucumber
1 Bunch (90 G) – Scallions
¼ Cup (38 G) – Goat cheese feta (or regular feta)
1 Tbsp (1 G) – Dill
½ Tsp (1 G) – Black pepper
¼ Tsp (.5 G) – Sea salt
1 Ea – 8” Tart shell
- Cut tomatoes into quarters.
• Cut cucumber into ¼” thick discs and then cut into halves.
• Cut scallions into ¼” rings.
• Spread yogurt around base of tart shell.
• Season tomatoes with salt & pepper, then pile uniformly into tart shell.
• Place cucumber slices, scallions and sprigs of dill amongst the tomatoes.
• Drizzle with olive oil just prior to serving.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
• Sift flour and sugar into mixing bowl.
• Add salt, pepper and cold butter- mix quickly by hand, breaking butter down to pea-sized bits.
• Add the eggs and work the dough quickly by hand until you can form a ball,
• Wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
• After dough has chilled and rested, roll out on a surface dusted with gluten-free flour to a 9” round.
• Transfer dough to an 8” tart pan, press into place, reshape the edges of the crust.
• Re-chill tart shell in refrigerator for another 10 minutes.
• Remove from refrigerator, and prick the bottom of the shell with a fork, (docking).
• Line tart shell with parchment paper, then fill with dried beans to “blind bake”.
• Bake in oven at 350° for 10 minutes.
• Remove parchment and beans, continue to bake until golden brown.
• Remove from oven, cool & reserve.
Original recipe courtesy of Chef D. Brown, www.chefdbrown.com