The Sunworks Blog
Summer was on my mind last week. We got our start in farming by selling our products directly to the consumer every summer at various outdoor markets. Outdoor markets are where we began and we are happy to still attend some of them. There is nothing better than selling chicken outside on a warm summers day to customers that care about how their food is raised.
Last week I completed my paper work and sent off applications for 3 summer farmers markets. We have been at the Southwest Edmonton Farmers’ Market (Terwillegar/Riverbend) for many years and again have applied to participate in the market for the 2017 season. The St. Albert Farmers’ Market is run by the Chamber of Commerce and I hand delivered the application directly to their office at the south end of St. Albert. I also sent an application to the Downtown Edmonton City market. This would be a new outdoor market for us if we are selected as a vendor so fingers crossed we may be able to serve the great customers at the downtown market.
The applications to the summer markets have to be made every season which is different from the indoor markets that we participate in, where you sign a lease annually. We are not guaranteed a space in the outdoor markets so we are happy to get confirmation of our acceptance into these markets.
I also filled out the forms to become a Concessionaire at the Edmonton Folk Festival. Organic Box and Serben Organic have been concessionaires at the festival and we would like to join them and serve our organic chicken to the crowds at the festival.
Indulgence, a “Canadian Epic of food and Wine” emailed us last week and we sent off the application and paid the participation fee. This is the 17th year for this event and we have participated for 15 years. The event date is Monday June 12 and is generally sold out.
Marketing and attending events are just a part of our being a farmer, processor and retailer. We are thankful we have a great crew that helps us out at the markets, on the farm and in the processing facility so that we have the time to work on all facets of our farming business.
One of the best times of my week is attending the markets so I can give the people that frequent the markets, pure, clean meat products that have been raised ethically and humanely.
In an age where we are often very disconnected from where and how our food is grown it is extremely important for us to reconnect with our rural roots by asking questions as to how and where our food is raised. We love answering people’s questions about the animals and how they are raised, to people at the farmer’s markets and through email or on the phone. We think it is extremely important that we ask these questions so that we can reconnect ourselves, our children and grandchildren with the food that they eat.
How we spend our food dollars is changing the world. More and more large companies are changing the way they produce, buy, and manufacture to match what the consumers are telling them,through their purchases. One only has to look at the move away from artificial flavorings and colorings towards natural alternatives to see the power that we have as a consumer. By asking questions about your foods and then purchasing them you are being an active participant in how your food is produced and raised.
When we buy a new appliance or vehicle we carefully consider the pros and cons about the purchase. We shop around and ask questions about the different brands and features that are available. We should try and put the same amount of effort and consideration into the food that we put into our bodies. We should ask the questions and do the research.
Each labor day Monday we invite our customers out to see the farm. They can see how the birds are raised in the winter and the summer and see our cattle in the pasture eating the grass. We love seeing the children looking at the cattle and the chickens and seeing that this is where their food comes from. We do not change anything on this day. If it is a dry year you will see the dust and thin grass. If it is a wet year you will walk in the mud and the wet lush grass. It is a wonderful day rain or shine when you can join with other people who are interested in the way that their food is raised and ask questions directly to the people who raise your food.
When you eat our food, we want you to feel proud that you are supporting, organic, humane and sustainable agriculture. We want you to feel connected to your food and your farmer. We are passionate about raising pure, clean food for your family.
Ron, Sheila and Isaac
Our laying hens are cage free and raised with lots of room to run all throughout the year. Hens have wonderful instincts and are happiest when they are allowed to do what is natural to them, pecking and scratching the ground to look for grubs, seeds and bugs.
We receive our layer chicks when they are less than 6 hours old straight from the hatchery. They are not fed any water or food until they reach our farm ensuring that the first food that they receive is certified organic and that no antibiotics are given to them. They are placed in a warm barn on a fresh bed of clean shavings. They are fed certified organic feed and allowed to grow in the barn until the weather turns warm. The birds are then moved outside to their shelters in the field where they will stay for the summer months.
In the summer the birds are raised in moveable shelters that are moved daily onto fresh grass. The shelters are large and the birds have lots of room to run around. They love to peck at the ground and eat the fresh grass. They are fed certified organic feed and fresh water is piped from our dugouts to the birds, allowing a constant source of fresh clean water. The hens have nesting boxes under the shelters that give them a comfortable place to lay their eggs and these eggs are collected three times per day and taken directly to our grading station on the farm.
In the fall when the weather turns cold the birds are raised in the barn where they are given lots of room to move. This protects them from Alberta’s cold and unpredictable winter weather. They are not in cages and are allowed to lay their eggs in nesting boxes that are spread throughout the room. The barns are clean and well ventilated; pine shavings are spread on the floor to keep the birds clean and healthy. They are fed certified organic feed and alfalfa. This ensures that they get their greens even throughout the winter and ensures that the quality of the eggs remains the same throughout the year.
Our laying hens are ISA Browns ( also known as Sex- Sel link browns). They lay a nice brown egg and are a great bird for outdoor and indoor living. Our eggs have a nice yellow yoke due to the fact that they eat grass and alfalfa all year round. The feed is made of certified organic grains legumes and alfalfa, there are no hormones, antibiotics or pesticide/herbicide residues in the feed. We go through yearly inspections by our organic certifying body Ecocert, the Egg Farmers of Alberta for bird and egg safety, CFIA for our egg grading station, and the BCSPCA for our humane treatment of the animals. That’s over four inspections just for the hens alone.
Once collected our eggs are taken to our egg washing and grading station where they are washed, checked for cracks and other imperfections, sorted according to size and then packaged into new cardboard egg cartons. These are then kept in our cooler until they are taken to our markets and stores that carry them. No chemical washes are used and no sealants are sprayed on our eggs.
We know that we can provide you with some of the best eggs available. They have a nice yellow yoke and a wonderful taste. We know that you can feel good eating our eggs knowing they came from Certified organic, happy hens.
To watch a short video of Ron talking about raising hens please follow this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QfUAHr62nM
We are often asked by customers if they can come out to the farm and buy from us directly. Instead of having a farm store here on the farm, we bring our meats directly from the farm to our locations in Edmonton and Calgary that we stock, manage and staff with our own employees. The prices for all our products are the same at all of our own locations. We bring the farm to you!
Our winter/year round locations are:
Our stall at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market in Edmonton has all of our products. Ron, Sheila or Isaac are at this market every weekend so this is the best place to come and meet us, your farmers. Located at 103 St. & 83 Ave and open Saturdays 8am to 3pm, year round.
Our Sunworks Organic Meat Shop on Whyte Ave in Edmonton is located within the Blush Lane Organic Store. Although located within the Blush Lane store our meat counter is owned and operated by us and staffed by our own staff. Located at 8135 – 102 Street, Edmonton it is open seven days per week and carries all our products. Open Sunday to Friday 9am to 9pm and Saturday 8am to 9pm.
Our stall at the Market on Macleod is our Calgary location and the Calgary pickup for any pre-orders or website specials. This location has all of our products and has the best selection of our products in Calgary. Located at 7711 Macleod Trail South and open Thursday to Sunday 9am to 5pm
Our Camrose location is located within Vinesations in beautiful downtown Camrose. This location has a selection of our fresh products and all of our sausages. Located at 4937 50 Street and open Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm.
We look forward to seeing you all at our markets in the new year!
Merry Christmas! The following are our Christmas hours for all of our locations.
Our Meat Shop on Whyte Ave in Edmonton (located in the Blush Lane Store):
Dec 24- Open 8am-6pm – TURKEY PICKUP DAY…
Dec 25 – Closed
Dec 26- Open 9am-6pm
Dec 27 to Dec 30- Open Regular Hours of 9am to 9pm
Dec 31 – Open 8am-6pm
Jan 1- Closed
Jan 2 – Resumes Regular Hours of 9am to 9pm
The Old Strathcona Farmers Market in Edmonton:
Dec 24 – Open 8am-1pm – TURKEY PICKUP DAY
Dec 31 – Closed
Jan 7 – Resumes Regular Hours of Saturdays 8am-3pm
Market on Macleod in Calgary:
Dec 22 – Open Regular Hours 9am-5pm
Dec 23 – Open Regular Hours 9am-5pm – TURKEY PICKUP DAY
Dec 24 to Dec 28 – Closed
Dec 29 and Dec 30 – Open Regular Hours 9am-5pm
Dec 31 and Jan 1 – Closed
Jan 5 – Resumes Regular Hours of Thursday to Sunday 9am-5pm
Camrose Turkey Pickup:
Dec 22nd – Pickup at the Hotel Marada Parking Lot and Delivery will be from 6pm-8pm.
Dec 24 – 10am-2pm
Dec 25 to Jan 1 – Closed
Jan 2- Resumes Regular Hours of Monday to Friday 10am-6pm and Saturdays 10am- 5pm
Dec 24 to Jan 1 – Closed– We will be checking messages during this time.
The photo of the sunset on the farm with our poultry processing plant in the back ground was taken by our farm hand Gil