Meet The Maker

Meet the Maker – Ryan & Alexandra Pengelly from Tamarak Farms

October 1, 2017

Fall is a perfect time to show some gratitude to our Manitoba farmers as they finish up the hard work of harvesting. While harvest is the most exciting time for farmers, it’s also the most time-sensitive and labor intensive activity on any farm!

This month we are thanking the fine folks of Tamarak Farms for their nutty quinoa!  They took a few moments out of the field to answer some questions for our October “Meet The Maker”.

What inspired Tamarack Farms?

Over the last 10 years, we (Ryan and Alexandra) explored ways to move back to Ryan’s family farm, the rural community of Erickson, and grow more of our own food. This developed into a strong desire to grow food for others and find ways to take over the family farm, which Ryan’s parents established in the 1970s. Over the last several years, we have been inspired by Manitobans seeking out local food options and our desire to improve the sustainability and ecological approach of our farm, such as reintroducing animals (pigs and chickens) to improve soil health and diversify our crop rotations and use of green manures.

What is your favourite way to enjoy quinoa?

Quinoa is so versatile in quinoa salads, main dishes, baking and deserts, such as the delicious and easy quinoa brownie recipe we are sharing.  As a dinner dish, we love our quinoa flavoured with pesto because of how the flavours and textures complement each other and because of how simple this dish is given our busy life. It helps that our 6-year old and 3-year old love quinoa with pesto! We typically cook 1 cup raw quinoa, which fluffs to 3 cups cooked quinoa. We then add 4 – 5 heaping tablespoons of pesto.

What is different about Tamarack Farm’s quinoa?

Our “nutty brown” quinoa has a distinct al dente texture, slightly nuttier flavour, and darker brown colour compared with white quinoa. It holds up extremely well in dishes like quinoa salad because of its texture and body. We have tried growing over 15 varieties of quinoa on our farm. There are so many different varieties of quinoa which are adapted to different geo-climatic areas in South America (hotter coastal, cooler mid-elevation and cold high altitude areas). Only a few few varieties produce seed in our farm’s geographic and climatic area (Parkland region).

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What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced developing your product?

The biggest challenge is being able to successfully grow and harvest quinoa seed each year in an organic system. Some years we have harvested excellent crops, while other years we have experienced crop failures. Sometimes weather is the primary issue. Other times weeds are the number one challenge. For several years, we also needed to experiment and perfect our cleaning methods to remove the inedible saponin coating from the quinoa seed. We are currently the only commercial seed cleaning facility that can clean saponin-coated quinoa seed in Manitoba.

What is your favourite thing about Manitoba?

Manitoba is our home. Ryan was born and raised near Erickson, Manitoba. Alexandra was born and raised in Lima, Peru, but now calls Manitoba home. Manitoba offers such a diversity of landscapes (boreal, parkland, prairie), people and cultures. We feel that Manitoba is a wonderful place to raise our family.

There are so many delicious recipes you can use quinoa in but click here for one Tamarak Farms shared for Quinoa Brownies! Yum!


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