Continued from Circle Farm Tour Abbotsford: Taves Family Farm.
Originally Lepp Farm Market was a commercial hog shack, but the dying industry at the time forced Charlotte and Rob Lepp to reinvent their business, or inevitably perish. After some careful thought and consideration, and a lofty vision dancing in their head, they downsized the hog shack and increased the vegetables. However, they were strongly influenced by the 100 mile diet, so vegetables simply weren’t enough; they decided to raise and sell a variety of hormone-free and additive-free meat and poultry.
Because our previous stop at Tave’s was focused on produce, we chatted only briefly about Lepp’s agriculture — from their “famous” corn, to their hogs — before gearing up for the meat cooler. While inside, we were given a run-down of butchering, curing and smoking. We learned that their big “beef days” are twelve cows, while others are often 100 plus. This smaller amount is more ethical, more sustainable, and also prevents the transmission of e. coli and salmonella.
Next, our group watched a gentleman expertly making sausages, who insisted that it “isn’t rocket science”.
I’ve made my own sausages a couple of times and it really doesn’t take a mastermind to do it, but there are certainly some specific skills needed and a sense of flavour pairing to avoid an over-spiced, lumpy link. Hearing that their sausages were “award-winning “, I couldn’t resist taking some home with me, opting for the turkey, spinach and goat cheese, and the unique maple and blueberry sausages.
We also got a sneak peek inside of the smoker, and witnessed the butchers cutting ribs with prowess.
The Lepp’s are extremely proud of their dedicated and efficient team and have recognized the fact that a skilled butcher is hard to come by. Because of this, they offer butcher training in-store to support the industry, while encouraging growth from a meat-cutter, to a certified butcher.
You’ll notice that they have a very diverse group of men working in the back, from those who have been handling meat their entire life, to those who are just getting into it. In fact, they have one butcher, Guy, who has been with Lepp Farm Market for 30 years. But this wasn’t the department he was working in initially. As the company reinvented itself, so too did valuable employees, such as Guy, who is a huge asset to the company.
It has been quite the learning process for the Lepp’s as their dream got way ahead of them and grew into a larger project than ever imagined. Through their passion, and a great response from the public, they persevered and are now a destination for many consumers.
“If it was heart and passion that determined success, every farm would be flourishing.” – Charlotte Lepp
Lepp Farm Market is open seven days a week from 9AM to 7PM during the summer hours, and they witness approximately 30,000 drivers passing by everyday, coming and going from work and home presumably. So while a weekday trip isn’t feasible for most people who work in Vancouver, there’s always time to pick up some affordable, and extremely fresh goods on the weekend. And while you’re at, you can always check out some of the other local grocers or artisans, or go for a hike on Sumas Mountain.
- The smoker is on almost 24 hours a day
- Johnston’s processes the meat for Lepp’s sausages
- It is a clay based farm
- They’re still known for their hand-picked corn
- They offer cooking classes, that have featured celebrities such as Rob Feenie, Anna Olson and Bob Blumer
- They have a Chef’s Corner featuring anything from flank steak pinwheels to savoury pot pies
A few small bites at Lepp Farm Market whet our appetite for our next stop, Brambles Bistro & Tanglebank Gardens.