Friday, July 6, 2012

A Chat with Norbert Kungl & Minga Mintz -Foodie Farmers Extraordinaire

We all know ... and often take for granted... the best places to eat ... and for me that includes shops and markets that sell the produce, meat, fish and artisan breads, jellies, etc... produced locally.  They're the places with lots of customers.  I rarely thank them for producing such awesome goods.  In fact, I take them for granted, forgetting just how much work and creativity go into the process.

Before I begin my chat with Norbert Kungl and his lovely wife Minga, let me share a few facts...
1.  There's always a lineup on Saturday at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market for the organic produce from Selwood Green Farms; and always wonderful produce even during the week.
2. And if buying your own farm fresh organic vegetables is not enough, there are lots of tasty treats for breakfast & lunch from Norbert's Good Food (aptly named) where they cook and serve tasty meals like this Ham & Pea Soup with a salad and some sourdough baguette slices... I love the fact that they use their own produce as well as ingredients from other farmers and artisan producers at the market.  When you check out the menu, prominently displayed, you'll find out where the ingredients come from... and I don't mean - Canada, US or Mexico... I mean which local farm!  What a lovely way to allow people to get to know local producers.

3. Although I've enjoyed their produce and eggs, not to mention the occasional delicious meal since the "new" market opened, it wasn't until I heard that Norbert & Minga were honored with the Bramber Farm Family Award for Innovation from the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists  (They explain the organization better than I can), that I thought of sitting down with them for a chat over the tasty lunch... pictured above - served with toasted baguette from Boulangerie La Vendenne.

But let's back up a bit.... Norbert was born and raised in rural Germany and though his parents weren't farmers, many of his extended family were.  While serving in the military, he decided he wanted to do something he felt would be truly useful - helping to develop other countries.  Which led to studying agronomy and, finally wanting to settle down, the eventual immigration to Nova Scotia in 1983 and starting Selwood Green in 1989   He met Minga at the Historic Farmers Market  - he was selling produce and she was serving coffee when she wasn't teaching elementary school and yoga for kids.  They have two children together, attending school in Halifax and Frielel from his previous marriage also works the market.

And now is where it gets really interesting, but let's hear it from Norbert & Minge....
R: I know the words "organic" and "local" are very common today, but what was the idea behind Selwood Green back in 1989?
N: Then, as now it was to advocate for local... and organic, whenever possible...and to push the boundaries of what could be grown here in Nova Scotia.
R: I do love being exposed to a wide variety of vegetables I had never even heard of.  And even better... having the producer know the best way to cook those vegetables.    What led to the change from Saturday market only to the new concept at the Seaport Market.... open all week and the addition of the awesome Norbert's Good Food?
M: Several things conspired - wintering in Halifax for the kids to go to school;  the new market opening at the Harbour with the opportunity to be open all week; inconsistent farming income - which is so fickle and dependent on the weather; being foodies ourselves and enjoying the dining experiences in Halifax restaurants.
N: Plus it was a wonderful opportunity to create a new niche - a restaurant serving locally sourced ingredients - especially those found at the Seaport Market - prepared by the actual farmer who grew them.   It showcases the high standard of dishes Minga and I serve at home and a way to build trusting relationships with our customers. 
R: What's the best part?
N: We wanted to make everyone feel welcome, especially families with children for them to develop an appreciation for good food and that, in fact, vegetables are delicious.   It's rewarding to see kids excited and knowledgeable.
R: What I love, is tasting some wonderful ingredient in your breakfasts and sandwiches, for example Westfalien Ham & Gouda Sandwich with Roselane Farm ham and That Dutchman's Gouda served on La Vendeenne dark rye and being able to pick up some of my own to take home and enjoy.  Thank you both so much for sharing your story and your delicious food.
I couldn't leave this post without including one delicious dish made with the most awesome organic eggs and some asparagus instead of the walnut pesto in the recipe below, you could ... as I've done recently... use a garlic scape pesto instead.  (Above purchase made just a few weeks ago)
Tomorrow is another market day.  What will I find at Selwood Green for lunch with the family?   My biggest words of advice... get to know your local farmers.

1 comment:

Tandy said...

there is nothing better than a true farmer's market :)