In a unique circumstance and location, a pioneering Thorsby farm gets to showcase its produce and promote organic farming. Vince Halwa, primary operator of Halwa Farms, has now expanded his operation into a downtown Edmonton retail storefront, the PANGAEA MARKET & DELI.
Located at 10150-104 street, a few metres north of Jasper Avenue, the Market is a cozy and bright space on a busy street filled with a variety of attractive storefronts, and has a presence on the web and on social cast (Facebook & Twitter).
On Saturday January 26, after seven months of the Market establishing itself and with its clientele growing steadily, Pangaea Market launched a new deli to the keen appreciation of a large crowd that filled the aisles, tasting and buying juices, like a dark red carrot, apple and ginger tonic that invigorates and refreshes, and various organic salads, some rice-based, others made of healthy greens. The Market offers a wide variety of organic produce, meats and seafood and many other items, including organic beauty products.
Several producers were in attendance from 11 to 4 to meet the consumers, and answer questions about organic farming. Marc and Tina Stewart of the Ponoka area own a large mixed farm and supply the market primarily with elk and bison meat, although they also grow pork, turkey and pheasant.
Another congenial farmer in attendance was Vince Halwa’s uncle Keith Bjorgum who runs a Camrose-area lamb farm with his wife Theresa, specializing in ‘medium-weight’ lambs averaging 75 lbs. The couple helpfully explained that a majority of lamb farms in Alberta are small farms that operate under ‘organic’ guidelines, even though they might not be certified or classified as such, a process that requires a great amount of paperwork and that can take up to five years to complete. With no chemicals on the land or in the livestock’s feed, organic farming products are a benefit to consumers seeking optimum health in their daily fare.
Located in Leduc County a few minutes north of the Village of Thorsby, Halwa Farm under the guidance of Vincen Halwa has taken a new direction to meet the food industry’s demands. Organic farming is what Halwa Farm is classified as now, focusing on its vegetable crops.
To supply its Market with other organic products, Vincen Halwa deals exclusively with “local growers” from the Leduc, Fort Saskatchewan, St Albert, Barhead, Thorsby and Camrose areas, to name a few. It will soon be introducing organic milk and already offers a fascinating collection of organic meats, such as elk, bison, pork, beef and lamb as well as fruits and many other organic items. Vincen is fortunate to have the devoted and energetic support of his mother Alice Halwa, a newly-retired school teacher of Thorsby Elementary, who assists him in many areas of the farm operation – and of the store’s too.
The Pangaea Deli’s team leader is Chef Mathelee Rawat, a pint-size dynamo who charmed the guests with her enthusiasm and impressive knowledge on the topic of organic foods. With her sister Natalie, Steve, Hanna and a few others, planning new creative dishes and a 7am breakfast hour, Mathelee will no doubt contribute to a great success for this unusual deli promoting –and serving- organic food.
With the cooperation of the Cash Mob that showed up to create exposure and increased sales, the Saturday launch created a buzz with the Pop-Up Market, a unique and smart concept to showcase artisans in an unusual venue: on this day, six artisans were showcasing hand-made jewelry, knit wear, ladies’ fashions and beauty products.
It is a common belief that organic products cost more than traditionally-grown produce and meats. Vincen is quick to explain how dealing with the growers directly creates friendly costs that translate into savings to the consumer. John Whaley, mayor of Leduc County shared that he applauds the entrepreneurial spirit of producers who meet the consumer demand for superior produce and meats. In today’s Agriculture Industry that prides itself on innovation, Halwa Farm is definitely a feather in Leduc County’s cap and an inspired promoter of the organic food industry.