Good Food Manitoba 2019 Producer of the Year
By Sarah Ritchie
Aiming to eat local can mean missing out on the latest food fad. This seemed the case for Winnipeggers when quinoa – the protein- and nutrient-packed seed grown in Peru and other Andean regions – burst on the superfood scene in 2013.
Little did we know, four years earlier Ryan Pengelly and Alexandra Lozada of Tamarack Farms had started cultivating the ancient grain, drawing on Alexandra’s Peruvian heritage to guide the venture. It was an ideal fit for their farming approach that focuses on small, rewarding crops that help preserve the aspen parklands and tamarack bogs on their property.
After testing 20 different seed types, the couple landed on a variety that thrived in Manitoba’s short, hot summers and could be grown organically. This quinoa, branded “nutty brown,” has a chewier texture and an earthier flavour than other varieties, and is superb in salads, burger patties and baked goods.
Since food-consciousness is what brought them to farming, it was essential to deliver a field-to-fork product. They control the entire process, from planting and harvesting to marketing and selling. “It’s extremely fulfilling to see where the fruits of your labour are headed,” says Pengelly.
Sometimes local eating menus rediscovering the land’s indigenous crops; other times, it means pairing inspiration and innovation to unlock this land’s potential. This intuitive approach to bringing an ancient grain to market has earned Tamarack Farms Ciao! Magazine’s 2019 Good Food Manitoba award for Producer of the Year.
Since the first harvest in 2014, the product line has expanded to include flour, brownie, pancake and soup mixes, found at local Red River Co-ops and a selection of specialty food stores and restaurants.