- The best eggs I’ve ever eaten were done over easy, and served on crusty toasted hazelnut and currant bread that was smothered with melted butter and peanut butter. A strict vegetarian, I hadn’t eaten eggs for years, but started craving them while pregnant with my first son. This decadent breakfast, repeated many times through the pregnancy felt so nourishingly good. My son, Isaac, was born a huge, healthy baby (it must have been the eggs) at home in Victoria on a rainy day in May. The next day my potato plants were a foot taller. My son’s father might have been hard to live with, but he was an amazing gardener and grew a jungle of food and flowers in our backyard.
- My friend “Chicken Jen” (who lived down the road from me in Sooke) turned a residential lot into a productive and wild vegetable and herb garden in less than three months, with the help of home-made portable PVC dome chicken coops. The chickens removed sod, and aerated and fertilized the soil in each successive round bed that she planted, and her “ladies” gave her surplus eggs to sell. Her vision for her abundant garden, created while her kids were only two and four, still astounds me. 13 years later, the nickname Chicken Jen has stuck.
- I moved from the island to Whistler with Isaac and my new partner. I was pregnant again. Our access to food and gardens dried up in the mountain resort. Sure, we could get good local food at the farmers’ market, but we didn’t know the farmers. We no longer hacked down chard from our front yard, or picked brambly blackberries, or gardened for 10 months out of the year. We missed eating farm fresh local eggs.
- After seven years in Whistler, our growing brood (I’d had one more child) moved to Pemberton. We bought our first home, got a dog and planted a garden. On one of my first rides around town, I discovered the egg box on Urdal Road and I knew we were home. We traded zucchini, cucumber and greens from our first lush, wild backyard garden for composted manure from our neighbour’s farm and for heirloom eggs in every colour.. Having access to real food right where we live, and knowing where it comes from is a big deal. It’s something we love about living here and it’s not something we take for granted.
- Let’s play local food Jeopardy. The answer is: Bog’s, the Wag’n’Wash, the Animal Barn, AC Gas, Stay Wild, the Owl’s Nest, Mile One, Collins Cross, the egg box on Urdal, the farmer’s market, Brooke and Kevin’s place, and Pemberton Valley Wellness. The business names themselves reveal the flavour of this funky little town. The question: Where can you buy local eggs in Pemberton?
- The secret: Everyone has their own source. If you don’t time it right on delivery days, you could be cruising around town, visiting all of these locations without realizing they’re part of a hyperlocal egg market. Alternatively, you might well disappoint your family by coming home empty-handed. Sorry, kids, no pancakes this morning.
- You’ll be late, too, because you’ll have talked to friends and neighbours all over town. During our first couple of months in Pemberton, I would frustrate my partner every time I biked to the store to get milk for his coffee. My 15-minute round trip would invariably take an hour or more, slowed by the pull of my grocery store conversations.
- Eggs are a window into the local food system in Pemberton. Local food is grown in abundance by experts and amateurs throughout the valley—but you need to know where to go to get it. And to find out where to get it, you need to talk to people. That’s the fun part. If they made it easier, something would be lost.
- We have a great farmer’s market and some awesome local businesses and CSA programs to get the straight goods right from the source. But you can also find your eggs or fresh basil or seed garlic on the Pemberton Food and Farm Facebook page, a matchmaking service for people looking to buy or sell food, seeds, plants or other random farm and garden stuff. Looking for a Thanksgiving turkey, alpaca wool, goats or egg cartons? Selling tomato starts, plums, bushels of basil? The source or recipient are only a couple of messages away.
- Farming and backyard growing in Pemberton is surprisingly untrendy. People just raise food and grow stuff here because they can, or because they love to, and it just makes sense. Keeping backyard chickens isn’t new, and while I’m tempted sometimes to imagine myself as more of a homesteader than I actually am, I don’t think I have the heart to deal with bear proofing and the collateral damage when raccoons or cougars or coyotes get into the coops. I barely have the heart to steal eggs from aggressive chickens.
- Every egg carton has a story. One of our local egg suppliers sells her daughter’s eggs and tracks the cartons to see if they get returned to her shop. One of the farmers at the market in the summer said new cartons cost more than twenty cents apiece—that puts a serious dent in his egg profits. Farmers don’t become farmers to get rich. But what is shared and supplied and circulated in this community is rich. It’s the soil, the place, the creatures, the stories.
- Eggs have been one of the nutritional threads in raising my kids—one of the first meals they could cook for themselves—one of the nutrient dense meals I’ve eaten through pregnancies, breastfeeding and birth. One of the food sources that connects us to the place where we live.
- My baker’s dozen. I’m lucky if there are eggs in my house or it’s back to part 5 of this story. My favourite homegrown breakfast:
11 o’clock braised greens & eggs
- A few giant handfuls of greens from the garden (kale, chard, spinach, collard or beet greens)
- A few cloves of garlic (homegrown if you can), peeled
- Coconut oil
- A couple of eggs
- Flax oil
- Condiments (homemade kimchi, sauerkraut or hot sauce & Bragg’s)
- Ground flax seed
- Leftover brown rice (optional)
- Wash greens and tear into large pieces.
- Wilt greens and simmer garlic with a splash of water in a pan with a lid.
- Add a small amount of coconut oil to the pan.
- Add a couple of eggs and fry them up in the same pan.
- Serve eggs and your pile’o’greens with hot sauce, Bragg’s, flax oil, flax seed, and homemade kimchi or sauerkraut (*recipes for vegan kimchi and sauerkraut to follow in future posts).
- Add a scoop of warm leftover brown rice, if you have some.
- Eat with thanks. Be nourished.
[…] piece of property to rent, before Bathtub Garden’s flower fridge folded… I know that local eggs can be found, by those in the know; that little free libraries offer mental sustenance in unexpected places; and […]