Featured Vendors: Shirley's Greenhouse and MSW Farms

Featured Vendors 

Last week we had a chance to catch up with two more of our seasonal vendors, Shirley's Greenhouse and MSW Farms. Here is a summary of their interviews. 

Shirley's Greenhouse 

How did you start your business?

I am actually the farm manager for Shirley’s Greenhouse, but Cam and Dawn my bosses started the business. Dawn’s parents ran a cucumber greenhouse in Airdrie and then when they got married they started their greenhouse in Didsbury.

What kind of products do you sell?

We sell mostly greenhouse vegetables; tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and lettuce, out of our one-acre greenhouse and we also have 12 acres of field vegetables including spinach and lettuce. That’s pretty much all coming out of our field right now just because it’s been such a wet year. We will have carrots, beets, tomatoes, squash and all that.

What is your “must try” product?

Baby tomatoes. They are really, really good tomatoes, nice and sweet.

What makes you unique?

Our unique point is that we are not organic, but we don’t use any pesticides. We pick completely ripe off the plant, so that is one of the reasons our flavour is so good. The plants do get stress from some pest-pressure - it’s nice and clean, no pesticides and we pick so ripe and come straight to the market.

What is your favourite thing to sell?

Beets. I just love beets. Things I love to eat are the best to sell.

Can you find your product anywhere else?

Yes. In Red Deer not so much, but we have a store in Old’s called Old’s Uptown Market and we also go to the Airdrie Farmers Market, Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers Market, Avenida Foods Market and Simons Valley Ranch.

Do you attend any other markets?

I don’t personally, this is the one that I do. I manage the farm as a whole, so it’s really nice to be a market to see what our produce looks like. It helps me manage the crew to see how stuff is selling and how it’s being packaged. Otherwise I am very much needed on the farm.

How did you hear about the Downtown Red Deer Market?

I am currently employed by Shirley’s. I had my own farm for 7 years, I was employed by another farm called Eagle Creek Farms before that. I started coming to the Downtown market for Eagle Creek Farms, so 9 or 10 years ago was our first time, right near the beginning. I have liked it since it started, it has been a fun market to come to.

What is your favourite thing about being in Downtown Red Deer?

If I was comparing markets in Red Deer, the mood and the pace of this market and the fact that it is a farmer’s market and it’s not a free for all like the Saturday market it is. It’s a much better pace and I’m not trying to yell at people, “buy from me!” [competing] with three people that bought from a warehouse. I really like that this market prioritizes actual farmers.

MSW Farms

How did you start your business?

Back in the early 2000’s we got a bunch of animals and started raising meat for our family and then eventually the business grew and we had enough meat that we could start coming to the farmers market.

What kind of products do you sell?

We have organic beef, bison, elk, pork, farm eggs, antler chews for pets, and all that sort of stuff.

What is your “must try” product?

Bison ground meat and bison patties are really popular, as well as my personal favourite, the jalapeno cheese smokies.

What makes you unique?

We’ve got meat that is completely ethically and hormone free raised. It’s all antibiotic free, grass fed and grass finished. It’s the best meat you can get and you can’t find it anywhere else.

What is your favourite thing to sell?

Really popular ones [products] are the jerky and pepperoni. A lot of people come up and they’re hungry already, so they want to have something to snack on. All of our stuff is frozen but the jerky you can basically open and eat right away because there’s no moisture in it.

Can you find your product anywhere else?

Yes, we do the Pigeon Lake Market on Friday nights, we sell our meat at Wild West Meats in Camrose and we also sell out of our farm.

Do you attend any other markets?

We do the Lakedell Market at Pigeon Lake, that’s on Friday nights.

How did you hear about the Downtown Red Deer Market?

We have been doing this for 10 years, so I can’t actually remember. We’ve just always done it.

What is your favourite thing about being in Downtown Red Deer?

There’s a lot of foot traffic, it’s a diverse crowd and everyone that’s selling here – it’s a true farmers market so you can see that everybody’s local and passionate about what they’re selling.

Be sure to stop by Shirley's Greenhouse and MSW Farms at this weeks market from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m!

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