Rave Reviews From Our Customers
We Found a Treasure (a love letter from Emily and Shane)
The moment we walked into the Alderlea Farm Cafe we knew it was a special place. John and Katy, the husband and wife team who run the cafe and biodynamic farm, greeted us with warmth, welcoming us into this delightfully sunlit and cozy cafe. It was mid-February, and despite the cold winter's day outside, we were offered a deliciously tempting menu based almost entirely on ingredients grown at Alderlea Farm. From nearly every table in the cafe, a visitor can savor an amazing view out over the farm, pastures and local valley, and know that their food was grown right here.
My husband ordered an individual-sized pizza and was delighted by a perfect homemade crust, rich flavorful sauce, and delicious selection of Alderlea Farm vegetable and sausage toppings. It was the best pizza he'd ever had-- high praise from a man who truly savors his pizza. (Shane and I met in a food cooperative where he was the local pizza chef!) I ordered the chicken soup, my own favorite comfort food. It came in a generously sized bowl with homemade bread on the side. As I savored the delicious broth, meat, vegetables and bread, I was amazed to think of all the care and attention that went into making this incredible local meal. Every bite is a reminder of the love and dedication that goes into growing and cooking truly high-quality, delicious and nutritious food.
I think anyone fortunate enough to visit the Alderlea Farm Cafe will feel like they've found a real treasure. The food is amazing, the view is incredible and the atmosphere truly warm and inviting. The food is of the highest quality, better than anything you'll find at a gourmet restaurant, yet is offered at astonishingly affordable prices. I know we will be recommending this cafe to all our friends!
Love Your Farmer: from Sunday Lunch
People often ask what food means to me, in other words, why am I so passionate about it? My answer is always connection. When we cook and eat together, it is an opportunity to slow down, create something good, with love, and share the experience together along with honest conversation or blissful peace. This experience can come from a long Sunday Lunch or even just a sandwich on the back porch. The food itself need not be elaborate or stressful, it just needs to be made with care, love and awareness. When this happens, we connect to our food, ourselves and to each other.
John and Katy Ehrlich of Alderlea Farm are in their 10th year of growing beautiful, organic, biodynamic food here in the Cowichan Valley. Last week I had the privilege of sitting at Katy's counter while she made the daily bread to talk to her all about what they do at their farm. Not only do they grow amazing fruits and vegetables, they also run a cafe three days a week, where they cook up good, homemade food sourced from their farm. I think that the combination of the farm and cafe is one of the things that make Alderlea so unique.
Katy and John have a vision to grow the best possible vegetables using organic and biodynamic principals, seeing the farm as a living entity. Everything that grows on their farm is connected with one another. The hay they grow feeds the animals they raise which produces the manure they need to provide healthy soil for the fruits and vegetables they grow. There is a tangible cycle of life happening on their land along with a distinctive sense of peace. This is a very special place where time seems to slow down and the love and passion that goes into all that Katy and John do is palpable. They have dreams that goes beyond producing food: creating a legacy, inspiring children to see farming as a viable career and connecting people to the land, the food and to each other.
As I sat in the cafe and talked with Katy, I had a clear understanding of what she brings to her work: love. One of my most favourite movies of all time is Fried Green Tomatoes. I love the story of these two best friends that open the Whistle Stop Cafe in depression-era Alabama. The cafe was more than a place to get a good meal, it was a place to belong. People came into that cafe everyday to eat, share and connect with each other. It was the heart of that little town and when I go to the cafe at Alderlea it feels much like I imagined that little Alabama cafe to feel. This is a place where people come to pick up their vegetables while children are encouraged to explore the farm and play. It is also a place where you are likely to run into someone you know, Katy joked that it should be called the "Serendipity Cafe" Katy and John have created a community gathering place and greet everyone as though they are family. The food that comes out of the kitchen is home-cooked love, like your mother or grandmother might have made. There is a sense of belonging here, as though you are a part of something much greater than a bowl of soup. You are a part of a desire to create a community based on healthy food, healthy land and healthy people.
As a home cook, Alderlea is a haven for me. It is a place for me to go once a week, pick up my vegetables, see the fields where they came from, talk to the people who grew my food and pause for a bowl of soup or a good salad. My children are learning where their food comes from, who is responsible for growing it and how it came to their plate. This is an invaluable life lesson for them and they love it too!