Food

Bringing veggies to Halifax

How two farmers are reconnecting people with food

David Greenberg picks tomatillos in a field overlooking the Cogmagun River.
David Greenberg picks tomatillos in a field overlooking the Cogmagun River.   Emma Meldrum

David and Jen Greenberg want their customers to get their hands dirty.

On paper, the Greenbergs sell organic fruits and veggies from their farm, Abundant Acres. In reality, they do so much more. The Greenbergs are reconnecting Nova Scotians to farming.

It all starts with the produce pack: a weekly delivery of organic fruits and veggies to Bedford, Fleming Heights and downtown Halifax. Customers choose about 10 items to take home with them.

Seems simple, right?

But David and Jen are discovering that their customers aren’t just buying packs for the health benefits. David believes they also want to get to know their farmer.

“I think mostly they want to partner with one farm and know that their business is directly supporting one farm,”   he says.

The Greenbergs say they love the relationships that grow from weekly interactions with their customers on pick-up day. They greet most people by name and often stop for a chat.

“It’s such a cliché: I want to know where my food comes from,” David says. “When a true statement is repeated a lot, you can almost lose the truth of it.”

The phrase may be overused, but at Abundant Acres, it’s taken seriously. David and Jen hold Open Farm Days a few times a year, so people can see the fields where their food is grown.

David says customers are more likely to keep buying the produce pack after visiting and creating a bond with the farm.

“A lot of the produce pack customers who stick with it year after year are either young idealists or parents…who really want their children to have a deep connection to the farm,” David explains.

David Greenberg and his friend Pierre Brumaire carry tomatillos back to the farmhouse.
David Greenberg and his friend Pierre Brumaire carry tomatillos back to the farmhouse.   Emma Meldrum

Jen says society and agriculture have changed. This affects how we see our food.

“There’s no family connection to a farm anymore, so they don’t understand what it’s like,” she says.

Open Farm Days help bridge that gap.

Customers get a huge kick out of visiting Abundant Acres. Jen thrills at watching kids get excited about food they’ve harvested. David tells the story of his friend George, whose kids helped butcher a sheep. Normally, customers stick to picking veggies. But when the pre-teens volunteered to help, David decided to take advantage of the teachable moment.

“George said that it was the highlight of their whole summer.”

I want the same experience – minus the meat carving. The Greenbergs graciously open their farm to me for a late-fall visit.

David shows me a field overlooking the Cogmagun River. Veggies grow in rows between clover.

I pick cherry tomatoes and tomatillos with David. His friend Pierre offers me a piece of just-picked cantaloupe. The flavour astounds me. Jen believes that freshness doesn’t just taste better – it is better.

“If your food is harvested less than 24 hours before you eat it, it makes a huge difference in your health too,” she explains.

I leave Abundant Acres with the very connection David and Jen told me about. My next produce pack will taste that much better.