The hockey stick tomato stake, eh?

The backyard tomato patch staked with old hockey sticks is perhaps the most uniquely Canadian thing I can think of.

In the spirit of Canada Day, it’s worthy of a little reflection.

When I grew up, in the 1970’s, all hockey sticks were made out of wood. They were made in Canada and if I remember correctly, most were made in Quebec. We got our sticks from the gas station, where they were sold back in the 70’s, often as a sort of impulse purchase when your parents were getting gas.

The new stick started out for ice hockey and eventually, in a simple act of up-cycling, before we used words like that, it would become a road hockey stick…The official transition from ice to road occurred after a single use on the pavement, maybe in a pinch when you couldn’t find your current road hockey stick. Once used on the street, it simply became your road hockey stick and could never go back on the ice. That’s just how it was.

Now a good road hockey stick was something to be coveted and you would try and keep it in use for as long as possible. It was a badge of honour to play with a blade worn down to a sliver of its original size, showing all others just how much hockey you played.

When you finally retired your stick, it went into the line-up of old sticks, along the inside wall of the garage. Actually, these sticks would be better classified as semi-retired, waiting at the ready in case someone showed up without a stick or someone broke a stick mid-game.

At some point though, all sticks would end up broken. The shaft would snap or the blade would break and they would no longer be useful for hockey.  Worth noting that even these sticks, on occasion, would still be used as a last resort when nothing else was available to play with. A broken stick, maybe with just a nub of the blade remaining. It’s funny reflecting on that. Re-using at it best I guess.

The next stage for the hockey stick was where the real creative up-cycling took place. It became a tomato stake in the vegetable garden.  If I remember correctly, this is how all garden veggies were staked in the 1970’s ;)

I can still see my old hockey sticks, the different brands sticking up out of my parents garden behind the garage, holding up Dads beefsteak tomato crop.

Fast forward to 2018 and here I am using my kids' old sticks for the very same thing, in my own backyard. It’s a small thing maybe, but I take some pride in my settling for the practicality of the hockey stick to stake my tomatoes. I saved a few bucks, I feel good about a little up-cycling and feel happy to carry on the tradition, not just one from my family, but a much wider Canadian tradition.

Happy Canada Day everyone, from all of us at Wanigan Organics.

Leave a comment:

Other articles:

Our Journey to Zero Produce Waste IV

Step 4.

The grocery store model is: buy, sell what you can, and throw out the rest.

Average fresh produce waste is greater than 30%. It's not just the produce itself, either. It's the box it came in. It's the truck that brought it to the store. In most cases, it's all the chemicals used to grow it. It's the wasted refrigeration, the staff time. It's just a ton of waste.

To stay the course through our journey to zero produce waste, we made a point to stay connected to the environment, local farmers, and all the wonderful members of our community who shared our vision.

What we found was that like-minded people were as happy to reach across the divide as we were. Local farmers, allied businesses, customers. We started to work together to create an alternative, regenerating business model.

We lowered food miles, reduced plastic packaging, starting composting, and basked in all the mutual moral support.

At the same time as our food waste was going down, we saw our Wanigan organic basket deliveries going up.

Thanks, everybody. We couldn't have done it alone :)

If you are interested in starting deliveries with Wanigan, it's easy to sign up now and get your second basket free.

Delivery Sign-up

Wanigan is a plant-powered organic & local food company that conveniently delivers really fresh assortments of organic veggies, fruits, juices, smoothies and snacks right to your door.

Our Journey to Zero Produce Waste III

Step 3.

Not long after we decided to go zero produce waste, we realized that our ideal business model was a circle.

To complete the circle the produce we could not use needed to go back to the beginning, to enrich the soil at a local organic farm. We needed a composting partner. 

For us, composting would reduce methane emissions from landfill and lowers our carbon footprint. For our partner farmer, composting would reinvigorate the soil, help grow beneficial bacteria, retain moisture, and suppress plant disease and pests. For our customers, it would mean a feeling of satisfaction in being a part of a sustainable, waste-free business model.

After asking around, we started bringing our veg trimmings and any spoiled fruit we might end up with to Hugh Phillips at Food Forest Organic Farm in Brampton.

Food Forest Organics is a family-owned, family-run farm. 

On his farm, Hugh uses simple, time-tested techniques to nurture and enrich the soil so it can do what it does best - grow nutrient-rich vegetables. His methods are simple but yield amazing results.

The partnership works great. We are both committed to the same values. We are all proud to be building a local, nourishing circular economy.

  

Delivery Sign-up

Wanigan, a plant-powered organic & local food company, conveniently delivers really fresh assortments of organic veggies, fruits, juices and smoothies right to your door.

Our Journey to Zero Produce Waste II

Step 2.

A few years ago, we put on our creative originator hats to reshape our organic home delivery business. We knew the average grocery store had more than 30% produce waste.

We wanted zero waste.

How could we redesign our business model to achieve zero waste? At the same time, how could we continue to improve quality and raise our customer experience even higher?

We knew we had more leeway with oddly shaped vegetables. Bent carrots are often unacceptable for mass grocery store shelves but at Wanigan our customers appreciate and enjoy the randomness that a typical organic farm can offer. This gave us a head start, as what was considered waste elsewhere, was useful and desirable at Wanigan.

To go further though, we needed to get creative.

So, at our Vegquarters in Brampton we built a certified kitchen and juice bar, and bought 2 dehydrators, a slow juicing machine and 2 smoothie blenders. We developed recipes that, alongside our new equipment, would use gentle preparation methods to maximize nutritional benefits and minimize food waste. Fruits or veggies deemed unsuitable for our deliveries, like items that were too small, too large or too ripe could be transformed into 100% plant-based nutritious foods.

Wanigan Organic Juice

Order juices and smoothies for home delivery

We launched a line of cold-pressed juices, real food smoothies, salads, wraps and spreads. With the dehydrators, we introduced nutrient-packed greens powders and fruit snacks with ingredients that were 100% pure.

Wanigan Raw Orchard Mix

Wanigan made Raw Orchard Mix is available for home delivery

 

Elsewhere, we started treating our greens like cut flowers so we could extend their life and keep them vibrant. We handled each plant with extra care, and stood them stem down in water, so they would stay properly hydrated. Now customers tell us time and time again that our produce lasts way longer than what they buy from a typical grocery store.

The next step was to figure out what to do with any spoiled fruit or trimmings from our kitchen...

 

Delivery Sign-up

Wanigan, a plant-powered organic & local food company, conveniently delivers really fresh assortments of organic veggies, fruits, juices and smoothies right to your door.

Our Journey to Zero Produce Waste I

Step 1.

When we decided to go zero produce waste a few years back, there was no roadmap. We weren't even sure exactly how to do it. But we did know we wanted to get rid of the waste, pollution and packaging that comes with the food business. It was driving us crazy!

In its place we wanted to become an organic home delivery company backed up by a nourishing, regenerating business model in harmony with nature.

So, what to do? In a word, 'Simplify.'

We got rid of everything that didn't fit our vision. We stopped selling 100's of heavily packaged grocery products. We started delivering our baskets in paper bags. We delved headlong into the nitty-gritty of buying, storing, and delivering organic produce. Our standard of consistency and quality needed to go up.  Our waste along the way needed to go down, way down - to zero.

So the journey began.

Delivery Sign-up

Wanigan, a plant-powered organic & local food company, conveniently delivers really fresh assortments of organic veggies, fruits, juices and smoothies right to your door.

Canteloupe Super Smoothie

 

This healthy smoothie is inspired by fresh in-season ingredients, namely delicious organic cantaloupes.

 

We created this vibrantly flavoured smoothie because any way you slice it, fresh cantaloupes are awesome!

Summer is in full swing and sipping on this smoothie is a nice way to relax and keep cool. We hope you enjoy it! Order some produce and make it at home with this recipe!

Cantaloupe Super Smoothie:

  • 1 cup of cantaloupe, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1 tbsp goji berries
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ice


Simply blend till smooth and enjoy!

Kale & Quinoa Salad with Tahini Dressing

This salad is bursting at the seams with superfoods. Kale, quinoa, tahini, hemp, almonds, garlic, olive oil, lemon -- all great tasting ingredients that are amazing for your health.

Though this salad is vegan and gluten-free it offers a whack of protein thanks to the kale, quinoa, nuts and seeds. It makes a great post-workout meal or just a health-conscious meal for any day of the week. Its also totally delicious!

Try making this salad at home with our easy recipe and organic ingredients from Wanigan! 

Kale & Quinoa Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

  • 1 bunch of green or black kale, stems removed
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds, raw or roasted
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • ½ cup chopped almonds

 

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper


Tear kale into bite-sized pieces, or shred into ribbons. Place in large mixing bowl and set aside. Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Drizzle 2-3 tbsp of the dressing over kale and massage to soften it. Transfer the kale to a serving bowl and add all other ingredients. Refrigerate to allow kale to continue to soften. Drizzle with more of the dressing before serving.

If you're not already a Wanigan delivery customer and would like to get really fresh assortments of organic fruits and veggies delivered conveniently to your door, simply click here:  SIGN-UP NOW!