Farms across Alberta recently showcased their operations to people looking at how local producers work as part of the Alberta Open Farms Days.
One such place was Brown Eggs and Lamb, a farm west of Lacombe selling eggs, lamb, wool products and flour. While the farm may be in Lacombe, a local restaurant has close ties to its operations. Cilantro and Chive has been buying lamb from the farm since the restaurant opened up three years ago.
Cal and Laura Siebenga have been operating Brown Eggs and Lamb for many years now and their focus is supplying local products in their store on Woody Nook Road.
The store is stocked with fresh farm eggs, whole wheat and barley flour, but also in stock is beef jerky, chicken pies, ice cream, wool products, honey and canned goods all produced from local suppliers.
“People are really quite happy to know where their food comes from,” explained Cal Siebenga.
Demand grew sizeable enough that the couple had to open a store four years ago to respond to the needs of their customers.
Laura Siebenga says there is a strong movement from consumers who want to know where their food comes from and their goal at Brown Eggs and Lamb is to meet that demand as much as possible. “They want to buy local. We just started to source things that are local and making them available here in one place.”
They work closely with Ponoka restaurant Cilantro and Chive. Owner Rieley Kay tries to buy as much local food for his menu as possible and he enjoys having the Siebenga’s lamb in his food products.
Ever since the restaurant opened three years ago, Kay has always wanted to buy local products. Kay’s biggest challenge has been finding enough local product to meet his customers’ demands. “We ended up going through far more than we anticipated.”
After three years of being in operation Kay says they have been able to work closely with local suppliers and he finds they can meet his needs. Working together benefits everyone.
“There’s just so much available. Sometimes you have to look a little deeper, make some relationships but there’s just so much in central Alberta,” said Kay.
Sometimes it is the suppliers who have ideas for a menu item and sometimes Kay has ideas; he feels that open collaboration not only benefits the businesses but also customers.