Back to Stories

What’s cropping up at FortWhyte Farms

Posted on June 3, 2024

The growing season has arrived in Manitoba, and farmers all across the province are working tirelessly to grow the best harvest they can.

At FortWhyte Farms, this work is happening as well with plants already making their way from the greenhouse into the fields.

But how do we choose what we plant each year? Why do we choose the crops we grow?

Learn more about what’s cropping up at FortWhyte Farms this year and what might make its way to the farm market or your community-shared agriculture (CSA) share this summer.

farm staff working in field

1. How do we choose new/returning crops each summer?

We try to balance growing kitchen staples and more unique produce so we have something for everyone. Staples are things you would expect to see in vegetable gardens or find at markets here in Winnipeg, these include things like beans, lettuce, carrots, onions, broccoli, peppers, and oregano. We also grow a lot of things people associate with summer like fresh dill, cucumbers and garden tomatoes. It’s just not summer without them!

Outside of the classics we also grow less common things like purple carrots and tomatoes, kohlrabi, pointy cabbage and ground cherries. Many of these will be available in our summer farm market but some are exclusive to our CSA program (a summer produce subscription).

We grow things people know how to use and are common here in Manitoba, and also things that encourage people to try a new recipe or cooking style while expanding their palate and cultural awareness. Part of this includes trying new or rare varieties of common veggies to showcase the genetic diversity we are not exposed to when we purchase our veggies in big chain grocery stores. Hopefully, this helps people become more curious about their food.

farm staff working in field

2. What’s new this year?

New this year is a purple pepper called Tequila, French Tarragon, some winged beans, and we’re attempting to grow poppy seeds and sesame seeds!

3. What isn’t coming back and why?

Brussel sprouts! They just aren’t successful at our farm and take up a lot of room in our garden.

Much of our cauliflower was full of worms last year. Our staff had to spend a morning picking out the worms and feeding them to chickens so that the cauliflower didn’t go to waste. It was beautiful and delicious but needed too much labour to clean it.

farm youth carrying basket of vegetables

4. Why are we experimenting with new crops this summer?

This year we are, trialling some variety production for Fireweed Food Hub’s veggie van! We’re a member of the Fireweed Food Co-op and through our work with them, it was identified that there was a demand for crops not traditionally grown here. We identified a few crops we thought had potential to be successful here, and are experimenting with them this summer. If they are successful, Fireweed will buy the food from us at a wholesale rate and distribute it to people who would otherwise not have access to fresh healthy food in their community here in Winnipeg.

5. How do we work with other local farms?

We are part of a small network in Manitoba for market gardeners which allows us to connect with other growers through conferences, boards for food-focused organizations, market gardener group chats, and reaching out to producers whom we can partner with.

As a part of our commitment to shop locally and sustainably, we also buy what we don’t grow from local growers when we need it. Our grains are from Top of the Hill Farms – so when you’re eating a yummy Market cookie, you’re eating local grains too! We partner with FireWeed to supplement some groceries, and one of our staff is on their Board connecting with other growers. We also recently became part of a project with Holistic Management Canada to start some regenerative projects here and have been connecting with farmers there as well.

market baskets filled with vegetables

We can’t wait for you to see everything that’s growing on at FortWhyte Farms this summer!

The FortWhyte Farms summer farm market will be back Thursdays from 12–7 pm starting July 11 so you can stock up on farm-fresh, ecologically grown produce that’s grown right here in Winnipeg at FortWhyte Alive.