Ciao! magazine’s annual awards for producer, retailer and
restaurant celebrate the creative use of regional ingredients.
Producer of the Year 2012
Twelve years ago, Murray and Lisa Warkentin returned home from a five year missionary voyage in Haiti with the goal of setting up a family farm, complete with sustainable greenhouse. The idea came from a friend and the inexperienced but optimistic couple began creating their farm from the ground up. “We’ve learned a lot since those days, basically how plants work,” says Murray, who started out with on1y 1,200 plants. Today, Greenland Gardens in Ste. Anne Des Chenes, boasts a 2,000 sq ft greenhouse that produces by many customers accounts the best beefsteak, cherry and cocktail tomatoes in Manitoba. The couple knew they wanted to leave a sustainable business for their children, and today their brood of seven actively assists by making boxes, gardening and completing weekly deliveries, which always occurs within 24 hours of picking. This commitment to quality and community has earned Greenland Gardens this year’s Good Food Manitoba Award for Producer of the Year. Warkentin attributes his tomatoes’ popularity to his attempt to mirror nature. “Copying nature is the only way,” explains the grower who uses natural light and mimics heating and cooling temperature patterns of a summer’s day inside his greenhouse. This community-rooted business nourishes partnerships with independent restaurants, health-food stores and markets and sustains more than 80 contracts in the city. He strives to support local and independent businesses that share the same outlook on sustainability as he and his family. Warkentin’s success affirms that people want fresh taste and care about the origin of their food. For Greenland Gardens it is a priority that they provide natural and delicious produce, enriching our lives one tomato at a time. —EC
Retailer of the Year 2012
Scoop n’ Weigh
When Linda Klimack bought Scoop n’ Weigh 15 years ago, the 2,400 sq ft bulk food establishment catered to Winnipeggers who were searching for unusual baking flours such as buckwheat and gluten-free varieties and gourmet ingredients like pink salt. While the store gained merit as the city’s bulk food leader by providing an efficient, economical way to buy groceries, they also catered to a niche market of retired chefs and bakers who still had love for the finer ingredients. Supply and demand amassed the need for a bigger space, and five years ago Linda moved from her Grant Ave building to a spacious 7,800 sq ft store on Taylor Ave, doubling the size. With the expansion, the family-run business now supplies to a whole new field of customers. “I had to add two bicycle racks to the front of the store,” explains Linda, who is enjoying her healthy, active clientele. With products ranging from dried milk, oils and vinegars to herbs, baking supplies, flour of almost every variety, nut butters, kitchen accessories and chef tools, this bulk shop is diverse. The self-proclaimed candy store for grown-ups also boasts fair-trade chocolate, teas and coffees, carries local products such as La Cocina corn chips and Wild Man Rice soups, and bring in fresh-baked breads from Crusty Bun every Friday. Not only do they carry amazing bulk groceries, Scoop n’ Weigh’s products cost less than their packaged competitors while prevent a large amount of plastic waste from entering landfills. It’s this dedication to wasteless grocery shopping and local goods that has garnered the bustling store the Good Food Manitoba Award for Retailer of the Year. “I am passionate about cooking and finding special ingredients,” says Linda, and customers alike, chef or not, are thankful that she created this assorted candy store, just for us grown ups. —EC
Restaurant of the Year 2012
Stella’s Café and Bakery
Click here to go to the Ciao! In The Kitchen feature about Stella’s Café and Bakery called A Rising Empire.