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Best of the New Crop From the Farm to Your Community

Turkish Delights

Sue and Richard Vignola explore the fine foods of the East and meet the people who grow it

Food & Fun in Victoria Rancho comes to the island

Athletes Update Inside the 2014 Winter Olympics

Rancho Recipes Delicious ways to use nuts and dried fruit every day

New Crop Price List: Early September • Wholesale Order Deadline: September 29th www.ranchovignola.com

Merhaba - Greetings!


elcome to our 34th harvest season. With another big anniversary around the corner, we reflected this winter on our original mission statement and also peered into the future to imagine what the next few years will bring. I’m happy to report exciting times are ahead!

Bringing the harvest of top quality, new crop nuts and dried fruit from the farm to your community. We’re proud to report that three of Rancho Vignola’s sponsored athletes represented Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Plus, we welcome two new athletes to the fold: cross- country skiers Alysson Marshall and Dahria Beatty choose Rancho products to help fuel their athletic dreams.

This year sees our first ever Harvest Greetings from Chianti country, Italy! Event on Vancouver Island, just twenty As always, we bring you early crop news from minutes away from Victoria in the seaside community of all over the world. Climate change continues Sidney. The spacious Mary Winspear facility will be to wreak havoc in many countries, and aromatic with the smells of fresh nuts, dried fruit and California is certainly feeling the pinch this other goodies. Islanders, we hope to see you there! summer with serious water shortages In this year’s newsletter we are listing all our Harvest impacting some crops. Event information on a separate insert. Not only does this On the subject of crop news, Sue and give us more room for recipes, stories and photos, but it Richard report from Turkey. See also allows you to easily remove the information and keep our feature article for tantalizing it handy for quick reference when November approaches. photos, info on Turkish Another first: our new mascot, Witty the Super Walnut, crops, and stories of the was launched earlier this year at Vernon’s Winter Carnival farmers we met. parade. This impressive personage will continue to show Sue Vignola up at events and make surprise appearances.


New to Rancho?

South Island Harvest Event 3 Crop News 4 Wholesale Ordering 5 Athletes Update 6 Food & Fun in Victoria 7 Rancho's New Mascot 7 Exploring Italy & Turkey 8 Rancho Recipes 12 Rancho Cooling Update 14 Investment Opportunity 14 Staff Profile 15 Harvest Event Schedule insert

Rancho Vignola is a family-owned and operated distributor of fresh crop nuts, dried fruit and quality confection. • We source our products once a year at harvest time.

• We offer pre-ordering at wholesale prices in September. • We ship wholesale orders across Canada. • ANYONE can order wholesale! • For purchase of smaller quantities, we hold annual Harvest Events (see insert for details).

Box 397 Armstrong, BC V0E 1B0 Toll-free: 1-877-639-2767 • Fax: 250-546-6653 info@ranchovignola.com


us! Contact

Find us online Page 2



Visit www.ranchovignola.com for information, or get in touch directly by email or phone. Summer 2014


South Island Harvest Event in Sidney, BC

e are thrilled to announce that Rancho Vignola is launching our first ever Harvest Event on Vancouver Island this fall. We will be taking over the spacious Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney, BC, for the weekend of November 28-29 (Friday & Saturday). Islanders who have never visited one of our Harvest Events before are in for a treat! The aromas of freshly harvested nuts, moist dried fruit and premium confection will saturate your senses as soon as you walk in. And the best part? You get to taste everything before you buy!

Victoria's Chef Heidi Fink will join us at Sidney's Mary Winspear Centre, sharing recipes and doing live demos.

More than just a place to purchase our top-quality products in smaller package sizes (as well as full cases), our Harvest Events provide the opportunity to learn more about our products from our knowledgeable staff. You’ll also be delighted by our awesome selection of gourmet gifts, in perfect time for the holiday season. Gift baskets large and small, fancy gift bags, cute yummy buckets and more - all are hand-assembled in our Armstrong facility using Rancho’s new crop products. Ongoing live demos show you how to incorporate nutritious nuts and dried fruit into your everyday meals. We are delighted that Victoria’s renowned Chef Heidi Fink will join us throughout the weekend to demonstrate her cooking skills and share recipes.

Make sure you mark November 28 - 29 on your calendar, tell your friends and family, and come and see us at Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre. See you there!


Basket Giveaway

Richard welcomes on e and all to the Vernon Harvest Event.

Would you like us to send you a gorgeous gift basket, assembled with love in our Armstrong warehouse, and filled with an awesome assortment of fresh Rancho Products? Would you like to have it for FREE? Here’s your chance! Simply answer our skill-testing question, and we will enter your name in a draw for the big win. This contest is open to all who read our annual summer newsletter, and the question you must answer relates to our feature article:

Name at least two of the dishes made at Sue & Richard's cooking class in Istanbul. Email or call us with your answer, and don’t forget to include your full name and contact info.

info@ranchovignola.com • 1-877-639-2767 The draw will be made September 1st, 2014 Summer 2014

Good luck! www.ranchovignola.com

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California’s Water Woes

Crop News

Whether or not it’s the effect of climate change, the three consecutive years of drought in the San Joaquin Valley and its impact on agriculture cannot be denied. In 2013, less rain fell on California than in any year since it achieved statehood in 1850. The situation is made worse by the rapid decline of a very small but important fish, the Delta smelt. State authorities have been forced to comply with regulations put in place to save this endangered species, and turn off the water pumps which formerly kept the farmlands producing crops. The unfortunate result is that many farmers are losing their livelihood as their farmlands dry up from lack of water.

The latest info from our growers worldwide

Closer to Home We’ve received word that the hazelnut crop in British Columbia is looking slightly smaller in overall volume compared to the previous year’s bumper harvest. However, due to the hot weather we’re currently experiencing, the nuts that are growing are looking wonderfully large. Canadian Hazelnut reports that a slightly smaller overall crop size is normal the year following a high volume harvest, but they’re hoping for large kernel sizes in both organic and conventional varieties.

The endangered Delta smelt

Political Situation? Mike McCutcheon, our grower of organic pistachios, raisins and some citrus fruits around Fresno, explains, “The water situation here is dire. Besides receiving less than 10% normal snowpack in the Sierras, water management of the storage reservoirs has been political, and water was allowed to run into the ocean.” Mike continues, “Our water allocation from one district has been drastically decreased, and our irrigation expenses dramatically increased, from $65 per acre-foot to $360 per acre-foot!” Fortunately, many of our established farmers have their own wells and are not so dependent on the state for their water requirements. Jeff Ferrari of Ferrari Farms, who grows our delicious organic walnuts, said the situation is not as dire for him as it is for many others. Says Jeff: “So long as the water table doesn’t fall below our ability to pump it, we can survive the drought year without too much damage. However, a few years like these in a row will see the situation become more critical for us."

Apricots: Crop Failure in Turkey Unusual sub-zero temperatures at the end of March have devastated trees in Malatya, the eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, and the largest apricot-growing area in the world. Frost damage in this area has been known to occur before, though the last incident was over 100 years ago. The same frost also caused extensive damage to Turkey’s mulberry crop, so this unique fruit will be in short supply as well. Page 4

While more will be known at harvest time, the impact on Turkey’s farmers is likely to be drastic and the government is already discussing bail-out programmes. Exporters are scrambling to fill the global demand for apricots, and will have to search further afield to countries such as Iraq and Iran for supplies. We are hopeful that our visit to Rancho Vignola’s Turkish suppliers this Sue gets her hands on some tasty apricots at Nimeks Organics in Turkey. summer will be ‘fruitful’ as they are promising to do their best to meet our requirements. However, we are already being warned of much higher prices for these tasty morsels, more comparable with the price of U.S. apricots. Look for a news update in early September with our wholesale price list.

Read more about Turkey and its crops in our feature article on page 8.


Summer 2014

Palm Sugar, a.k.a. Coconut Palm Sugar To clear up the confusion, these two items are exactly the same product. Another myth to clear up is that the extraction process is harmful to the environment, in particular to wildlife such as the endangered orangutans of Indonesia. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that coconut palm sugar is the single most sustainable sweetener in the world, and extracting the sugar from the blossoms is a centuriesold tradition that does no harm to either the tree or surrounding environment and wildlife. Enjoy with a clear conscience!

Almonds Despite the drought, the California Almond Board has announced another record-breaking crop! A statement from the Almond Board says: “This year’s objective forecast… is a testament to the state-of-the-art farming practices and techniques our growers use to minimize water use.” This refers to the fact that California growers now use 33% less water to produce a pound of almonds compared to 20 years ago.

News from the Grapevine Raisin grape growers further south have an extensive well system that was set up many years ago to ensure they would have adequate water, even in drought years. Judging by the number of grape bunches per vine, overall production volume looks to be slightly down. Pricing for the new crop is currently in line with last year but the real determining factor is when the fruit is laid out to dry. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a hot drying season for these luscious fruits!

Wholesale Ordering From a customer


or at least twelve years, Anita Foged has been placing a yearly wholesale order with Rancho Vignola. Her desire for fresh whole food at reasonable prices led her to form a buying club with a group of friends. Many years later they are still going strong. According to Anita, organization is key!

How big is your group? Our numbers have fluctuated over the years, but we remain a hearty 8-12 who still put in a regular order.

How do you organise all those people? We have set the third Tuesday evening of both September and November to be our Order and Weigh/Pack meetings, so people know which days to save for the next 50 years! If someone cannot make it, they must rustle up another person to attend in their place. We have produced a policies and procedures booklet for newbies, so they can read up on member responsibilities, guidelines and requirements for participation.

September Order Meeting First we do a quick run-through of the Rancho Vignola price list, and with a show of hands as we go, the meeting leader notes which items will be ordered. Then, starting at the top, she calls out each Summer 2014

item indicated. Around the circle we holler, by turn, 2! 15! 8! 3! until we have a full case. If we are over or under, we all agree to either drop or add a pound or two to make up Dorothy Murray and Anita Foged, co-leaders of the Red Deer Food Co-Op, another complete case. We're a divvy up their annual order. pretty mellow group, so this kind of cooperation works very well. It is understood that if only one person wants to buy a certain product, she can buy a 5 lb bag on her own, or drop it from her list.

November Weigh/Pack Meeting For splitting up the order in November, we do an assembly line using our small number of weigh scales and available counters to break down the boxes into individual orders, using Rancho Vignola's plastic bags. It's a 4pm start, with most of us going home by 7pm with our boxes and baskets full of goods for the freezer.


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Fuelled by Rancho

Dream come true: Heidi Widmer at the Olympics in Sochi. Below: Dahria Beatty competes in Italy.


ne runner/triathlete/BMX racer, one Paralympic gold medalist, one Olympic snowboard cross racer and three national crosscountry skiers make up our roster of Rancho Athletes - and what a year they have all had!

Josh Dueck celebrates his gold medal run at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games.

Three of these athletes we proudly sponsor had the opportunity to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Kevin Hill (Snowboard cross) and Heidi Widmer (cross-country skiing) hit the Olympic stage for the first time. Sit-skier Josh Dueck, in his second Paralympic appearance, came home with a gold medal in the men’s super combined sit-ski event. Wow! The joy we all felt watching these athletes who have invested so much in their sport was invigorating and so exciting.

Two fresh and energetic faces have joined the Rancho Team this year: Alysson Marshall of Salmon Arm and Dahria Beatty from the Yukon. Both have made the National Cross-Country Ski Team and are ready to take the world by storm. Welcome aboard, ladies! Shanda Hill is competing in her first ever triathlon this coming August at the Challenge Family Triathlon in Penticton. Rancho Vignola will be there with our booth, selling organic trail mixes and cheering Shanda on. From left: Alysson Marshall in action; Kevin Hill beats the crowd; Josh Dueck takes the podium in Sochi.

Go Team Rancho!

Nuts B


e c n a rm o rf e P h ig H Fuelling

eing a committed vegetarian, I am often asked how I get the nutrition I need to maintain my athletic performances. In fact, it's way easier than people think! My passion for food and nutrition has led me on a lifelong journey of education, discovering new and fun ways to prepare food to fit my active lifestyle while keeping me healthy. I believe one of the biggest factors in my athletic performance and output is the fuel I choose to put into my body, so I pretty much live on Rancho Vignola’s nutritionally dense products, which are naturally high in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Page 6


Since convenience is key for many people in maintaining a healthy diet, nuts and dried fruit easily fit the bill. Having a small handful of nuts or trail mix both before and after your workout is important to give your body the easily digestible fuel it needs. I’m currently training for my first triathlon, and one of my favourite treats right now is a creamy mix of soaked cashews blended with Barhi dates (any dates will do), a touch of cacao powder and coconut oil. It’s like an all-natural power gel which tastes far better than the commercial ones! Placed in a small bag so it’s easy to keep with me while I’m training, I can just eat it on the go, and again immediately after my exercise. No single nut or fruit is vastly superior to the others; all vary in their nutritional content. I recommend eating a good variety, to get balanced nutrition as well as unique flavours! Shanda


Check out Rancho Vignola’s recipe page on the website for lots of great ideas on how to use our products.


Summer 2014

Exotic Flavours


iving into the exciting food culture of Victoria is the new goal for Rancho Vignola this year. We are taking our travelling Harvest Event extravaganza to the beautiful, quaint and quiet community of Sidney, BC, this November. We hope to attract an enthusiastic crowd to the Mary Winspear Centre, located right off Highway 17, just up from the ferry terminal.

Sauce: In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. When hot, add onion and sauté until softened and turning brown in spots, about 10 minutes. Add butter, then stir in the garlic and the dry spice mix and sauté for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes break down and release their water and the oil floats on the top of the mixture. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add the yams, currants, apricots and other vegetables (if they are firm) with a sprinkle of salt. Cover and simmer until crisp-tender, only a few minutes. Stir in ‘soft vegetables’


Chef Heidi Fink will be bringing her expertise to our Harvest Event in Sidney. Heidi will be doing live demos and sharing some of her amazing recipes. You won't want to miss it!

Our friend, Chef Heidi Fink, has been a wonderful resource for us in the provincial capital. Last February, we were delighted to spend an evening learning about the exotic art of Moroccan cooking. Chef Heidi has travelled to North Africa to study first-hand, and brought back many delightful stories, along with techniques for creating simple and elegant Moroccan cuisine. Rancho Vignola products meld perfectly into the slowsimmering, rich and textured tagines (Moroccan stews) that highlight a perfect marriage of sweet and savoury flavours. The smells that filled the room that drizzly February evening were unforgettable. Dry spice mix: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and heat, stirring, until the seeds turn a shade darker and give off a toasty smell. Remove from heat and let cool. Grind to a powder in a coffee grinder and mix with the remaining ground spices and the salt. Set aside.


toward the end. Drain the vegetables, reserving the cooking water.

Moroccan Chickpea & Vegetable Tagine Sauce 1 large yellow onion, diced 6 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp olive oil Dry spice mix (ingredients to right) 1 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned) 1 ½ cups cooked or canned chickpeas 2 cups yam, peeled & chopped 2 cups other vegetables, chopped

Dry spice mix 1 tsp whole cumin seeds 1 tsp coriander seeds 1 tsp ground turmeric ½ tsp ground cinnamon ¼ - ½ tsp cayenne pepper ½ tsp paprika ½ tsp salt, or more, to taste

(cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, etc.)

3 tbsp dried currants ½ cup dried apricots, chopped 2 cups water ½ cup baby green peas (fresh or frozen) 3 tbsp sliced almonds (for garnish)

Stir the vegetables into the tomato sauce along with the chickpeas and at least 1 cup of cooking water. Let simmer for 8-10 minutes to blend the flavours. Stir in the green peas and cook for one more minute. Taste to adjust for seasonings. It may need more salt or a squeeze of lemon. Serve with steamed couscous or buttered rice. Garnish with sliced almonds. Serves four.

Created by Chef Heidi Fink 1998 www.chefheidifink.com

Witty the Super Walnut

Rancho Vignola is excited to announce the launch of our new mascot! The brainchild of Sue & Richard Vignola, Witty the Super Walnut is an original piece of art designed and built by Cathy Stubington of Grindrod's Runaway Moon Theatre and Armstrong artist Molly March. Making quite an impression at the Vernon Winter Carnival Parade this past February, Witty again came out to share nutrition facts and recipes at the recent 20th Annual Sunshine Festival in Vernon on June 21st. Watch for Witty at the Armstrong IPE Parade and at this year's annual Harvest Events in Vernon, Camrose, Airdrie, and our premiere South Island Harvest Event in Sidney, BC.

Witty the Super Walnut is here to rid the world of bad nutrition and poor food choices! Supplying the knowledge people need to feed their bodies and minds, Witty is full of OMEGA amounts of vitamins and heart-healthy fuel! Summer 2014


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Great foods and natural delights throughout





t was long overdue. Sue had been yearning to return to Italy ever since she and her sister visited many years ago, venturing for the first time away from their native London. Finally the flights were booked, and for a busy three weeks beginning in mid-May, we travelled from Rome to Venice in a twisty tour of the country’s historic cities and rural regions. As Canadians, we were so impressed to be walking through streets that have seen well over two thousand years of civilization: war, peace and everything in between. Looking at these ancient buildings, we marvelled at how magnificently preserved they are, and wondered at the stories they could tell. Sue is ready for the day's adventures! After a couple of days visiting Rome’s historic sites, with our food focus firmly in mind, we arranged a culinary tour with local guide Veronica. Beginning at Piazza Farnese, we strolled through the morning market, where Veronica introduced us to popular street foods like fried zucchini blossoms and rice balls. The tour continued with a walk through the Jewish quarter, crossing the Tevere (River Tiber) into Trastevere, long considered an eclectic food area of Rome. Lunch was a simple but delicious pasta (with wine of course!), and the tour ended at ‘the best gelato place in town!’ We were both left feeling well-initiated into Italy’s food culture, with its focus on fresh, local ingredients eaten in season.

Fresh Food & Friends: Cooking Italian Style


rom Rome, we took a bus to Siena, in the heart of the Chianti region of Tuscany. In search of more rural accommodation, we booked into a working organic farm which we found through the Agriturismo (Agri-Tourism) website. Our Tuscan paradise, Antico Uliveto (Ancient Olive Tree), is a small organic farm where we learned about the simple natural ingredients that make Tuscan cuisine so delicious and healthful. The farm is a mix of olive groves, grain fields and vineyards, producing wine, olive oil, and a variety of grains - all certified organic. At the centre of this incredibly

Richard gets into the spirit of Italian cooking at Antico Uliveto.

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by Richard Vignola

picturesque property sits a cluster of Tuscanstyle buildings: the old family homestead, barn and workshop buildings, plus guest houses and a small swimming pool. During our all-tooshort stay, Sue experienced a relaxing massage, while I attended a cooking class in the farm’s beautiful outdoor kitchen. Using fresh eggs, flour, and olive oil (all from the farm), our small group learned to make pasta and biscotti by hand, as we happily sipped Prosecco (Italy’s popular sparkling wine). Delicious in its simplicity, there’s nothing like fresh pasta! We promised ourselves we’ll attempt both the recipes again at home. Visit Rancho's YouTube channel for our Kitchen Videos, featuring Mardelle’s Tuscan-style Biscotti recipe - or find it in our website's recipe section. Saying goodbye to our new friends at Antico Uliveto, we took a train to Cinque Terre (The Five Lands), a rugged stretch of coast in the Liguria region of Italy comprised of five picturesque villages. The residents have carefully built garden and vineyard terraces on the steep landscape right up the cliffs overlooking the sea. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. With most of its food and wine produced locally, Cinque Terre is definitely a slow food paradise! Moving on to Florence, we settled into our hotel and began to take in the historic sights in this ancient city, the jewel of Tuscany! Ready for another food experience, we arranged a cooking class with the local Chef Riccardo, who first took us to Florence’s Central Market to buy ingredients from all his favourite vendors. A highlight was sampling truffle oils, cheeses and aged balsamic vinegar drizzled on fresh bread, surrounded by the


Sue and Richard navigate the steep and winding paths of Cinque Terre. Below: A warm welcome at Florence's Central Market.

Summer 2014

bustling activity of the busy market. We learned that Florentines are quite strict about when specific foods should be eaten. It’s said you can often tell the time of year from items featured on a restaurant's menu. Fresh and in season is always the focus! Together with the group’s eight other participants, we had a delightful class in the fifteenth-century building which houses Riccardo’s cooking school. On the menu was bruschetta, the inevitable pasta, this time with pesto sauce, followed by traditional apple cake and gelato, all using fresh, natural ingredients. After preparing, and then consuming, our fabulous lunch, we exchanged emails and headed out into the hot sunshine with full stomachs and glad hearts.

Learning to cook in the Italian style, using fresh, quality ingredients in simple recipes, brought me once again to my deep appreciation for being in the whole food business. This is what it’s all about: people growing, preparing, and eating food together. Our final Italian destination was Venice, where exploring the ancient cobbled streets often resulted in us getting lost, yet always finding something to marvel at! With no cars, motorcycles or even bicycles, Venice was the perfect way to end our Italian journey, and begin the second leg of our trip.

Istanbul: Where East Meets West


fter the relative serenity of Venice, landing in Istanbul was like being thrown into Dante’s inferno! A sprawling city of 17 million (the unofficial number is said to be closer to 24 million) straddling the Eastern and Western worlds, Istanbul is a huge melting pot of cultures and civilizations. With our hotel located in the ancient and historical Sultanahmet neighbourhood, we were within walking distance of iconic landmarks such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia Mosque, and the incredible Grand Bazaar. We spent a few unforgettable days exploring the sights, experiencing the rich and diverse culture, and learning the history of this fascinating city. Eager to begin our Turkish food adventures, we booked a cooking class with the renowned Selin Rozanes, a native of Istanbul who specializes in Turkish Culinary Experiences (www.turkishflavours.com). Selin arranged to meet us at the entrance to Istanbul’s Spice Market. Once the largest spice trading venue of the

Summer 2014

medieval world, it now contains over 4,000 booths. Selin took us straight to her favourite - No. 51 - which is operated by a charismatic young woman called Bilge (bil-gay) who, along with her brother, inherited the booth from their father. During her early years running the booth, Bilge was mocked by the mostly male spice vendors, who anticipated her very quick failure. Instituting new hygienic practices to protect and prolong the potency of their exotic spices, Bilge and her brother quickly proved them wrong. No. 51 is now one of the most popular booths in this busy market, with the other vendors trying to emulate their practices.

Above: Richard and Selin cook Turkish style. Below: Sue learns all about the exotic spice trade from Bilge at the Spice Bazaar.


After purchasing spices and essential oils, Selin brought us to her home, where she holds her cooking classes. During the next two hours we learned to make many traditional Turkish ‘meze’ (appetizers), such as muhammara (a spread featuring red peppers and toasted walnuts), hummus and börek (a Turkish staple which is essentially layers of filo pastry filled with Cont'd p.10

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cheese, meat, spinach, and/or other delights). Baked sea bass in a fresh tomato, herb and onion sauce was the main dish, followed by a simple but delightful dessert of reconstituted dried apricots stuffed with clotted cream and covered in chopped pistachios. The best part of any cooking class is not only trying new recipes, but also learning the cooking style and special flavours of the country or culture you're visiting. Selin is an expert in her craft, and we enjoyed discussing food and culture as we cooked. Another delicious day was completed by sitting down to enjoy everything we’d prepared. (Watch for these recipes and other tantalising dishes in the recipe section on our website.)


Mulberries, a popular crop in Turkey's Malatya region, suffered frost damage this spring. Below: Richard enjoys a glass of çay.

Izmir: Visit to Nimeks Organics

lying to the city of Izmir on the southeast coast, we arranged to meet with representatives of Nimeks Organics. Nimeks Organics is a large agricultural company involved in the production and processing of organic fruits and vegetables; primarily apricots from the Malatya region in eastern Turkey and figs from the Izmir province on the western coast. Nimeks, and their partner firm Mapeks, operate several farms and processing plants throughout Turkey, and are a major player in Turkey’s organic food production. Upon our arrival, we were served a glass of the traditional çay (pronounced chai), a mild black tea produced in the Black Sea region and served in a fluted glass. We were soon joined by Nimeks’ Sales & Marketing Manager, Cigdem Cerci, who used her proficient English to introduce us to the company's president and operations director, brothers Omer and Niyazi Memur. The Memurs' father was one of the first farmers to begin growing apricots organically 25 years ago. Handing out bags of Rancho’s organic Super Antioxidant Goji Mix, we introduced ourselves by describing Rancho Vignola’s commitment to deal in only fresh, new crop products. We pointed out that our core value has always been to help establish a link between the farmers who grow food and those who consume it. Sharing the stories about the lives of farmers in other lands, and in turn the appreciation of those customers who love to purchase these delicious products, creates a mutual sense of nourishment that unites us. Despite the language limitations, we felt our message was well understood and appreciated.


10% of the usual tonnage, making this year one of the worst on record for apricot production. Nimeks is confident they will be able to bring in apricots from other nearby countries such as Iran and Iraq, as well as some countries in the former U.S.S.R., so we are hopeful of securing a supply this year. However, we can expect prices to at least double from those of last year. More will be known closer to harvest time. This news changed our plans, so instead of traveling east to the remote Malatya region to visit the apricot orchards, we were encouraged by our hosts to stay in Izmir province and visit their fig farming projects. The mountain village of Şirince on the way to the fig plantations.

Apricot Crop Failure

e learned from Niyazi Memur that 2014 has been particularly devastating for apricots, as the Malatya region was hit by a heavy frost in March which destroyed approximately 90% of the blossoms. The current estimate is that the crop will be roughly

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Summer 2014

Figs: Food of the Ancients


ossibly the oldest known agricultural crop in the world, figs have been cultivated in these regions for thousands of years, and the methods are virtually unchanged. Producing figs involves the cooperation of the tiny fig wasp, which acts as the essential pollen carrier to the female tree so that it can produce fruit. These wasps lay their eggs within the fruit of the male fig tree. The farmers harvest the larvae-loaded male fruit and place 2 or 3 of them in a mesh bag, which they attach to the branches of female fig trees. Thousands of tiny wasps then emerge from the male fruit and go on to pollinate the female fig buds.


A few weeks later the female tree is laden with plump, green figs. This labour-intensive process is repeated each and every spring. The ripe fruit is harvested in mid to late August, and laid onto hundreds of approximately one-metre-square trays to dry under the hot Turkish sun. After three or four days, the dried figs are put into large bins and taken to the processing plant to be washed and graded. The organic fruit is then placed into a deep freezer at -30ÂşC for approximately four days to kill off any insects or larvae that may still be on the fruit.

A Village of Farmers

aking our farewells to the Memur brothers, we were introduced to Nimeks' System Coordinator, Duygu Oylum, and her father Fikret, the Agricultural Plant Manager, who were to accompany us to the fig plantations. We drove through the vibrant countryside, passing numerous olive groves, and were treated to lunch in the historic village of Ephesus-Selcuk. Continuously climbing higher, we eventually reached a small winding road that led us to Arpadere village. There we saw first-hand a 200-hectare organic fig plantation set in a steep and narrow valley. The views were absolutely breathtaking, with figs and olive trees planted in neat rows way up the hillsides.

Above: Richard visits with the local fig farmers of Arpadere. Left: Sue introduces herself to a beautiful old fig tree.

We parked in the town square, and emerged from the car to be greeted by about twenty men, all sitting outside the cafÊ drinking tea. There are only about 100 people living in this remote village, and everyone is involved with the fig plantation. These farmers rarely get visitors, let alone people from Canada, so needless to say we were quite the attraction! Sue and I shook hands with everyone there and sat down for rounds of çay. As best we could, and with help from Duygu, we explained where we lived in Canada and how our customers really enjoyed organic Turkish figs. In turn, our new friends explained to us, in a mixture of Turkish, hand gestures, and some translation from Duygu, the process of growing figs as it has been done since before anyone can remember - without irrigation, or any help from the Monsantos of the modern world!

To see the photos we took on this unforgettable journey, visit: www.flickr.com/photos/richardvignola/sets

It was a long and interesting day and we were exhausted when we arrived back in Izmir late in the evening. Yet we were filled with such joy at meeting these simple farming folks living far up in the ancient Turkish hills, working the land as their ancestors have done for centuries! The story of these good-hearted people producing foods that nourish and sustain us truly fuels the human spirit and expands our global community. Share and enjoy! Richard Vignola Summer 2014

Hot air balloons ascend above the unique landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey.


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from the

Rancho Kitchen

his past year we’ve spent some time improving the recipe section on our website. We’ve added many new recipes, photos and videos, as well as an easier way to find recipes you will love by the ingredients used, the course, or dietary restriction. Come join the fun! Share your favourite recipes with us and the Rancho community. We’re always looking for delicious new ideas to inspire us in the kitchen!

Triple Citrus Electrolyte Drink

Dukkah This crunchy, flavorful mixture can be used in many different ways. Traditionally served with bread and olive oil for dipping, it's also great for sprinkling on salads, baking with roasted veggies or meats, or stirring into hummus.

Ingredients: ¾ cup hazelnuts, roasted ½ cup sesame seeds 2 tbsp coriander seeds 2 tbsp cumin seeds 1 tbsp ground pepper 1 tsp salt

This refreshing drink is great for replenishing your electrolytes after exercising or anytime you feel like you need a boost. The chia seeds offer fiber, protein, minerals, healthy fats and omega fatty acids.

Ingredients: 1 lime 1 lemon 1 orange 1 tbsp honey (or liquid vegan sweetener) 2 tbsp chia seeds ⅛ tsp unrefined salt water

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they start to change colour. Pour into a bowl and add the salt and pepper. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds for a few minutes or until fragrant. Grind the coriander and cumin in a food processor, then add them to the bowl of sesame seeds. Chop the hazelnuts in the food processor until finely ground, then add to the mixture and thoroughly combine.

Heat a small amount of water until quite warm but not boiling, mix ¼ cup in a jar with the honey and salt and stir until dissolved. Squeeze in the juices of all three citrus fruits, add the chia seeds and then top up with approximately 3 cups of cool water. Taste and add more water if it's a bit too strong for you. Place mixture in the fridge for a few hours until cooled, or overnight.

Stuffed Winter Squash A great recipe for a cold day, and the leftovers are arguably even better (if you have any)!

Ingredients: 1 large or 2 small winter squash

(halved and inside scraped clean)

salt and pepper 1 ½ tbsp + ½ tsp olive oil 1 cup quinoa ⅓ cup sunflower seeds

⅓ cup sliced almonds 1 small onion, chopped ½ tbsp dried thyme 1 tbsp dried parsley 1 clove garlic, minced ½ cup parmesan, grated

Heat oven to 425ºF. Brush squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut side down on a baking sheet until tender, 20-40 minutes depending on the size of your squash. Rinse the quinoa well. Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil in a small pot, then add in quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer covered until tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let cool, then fluff with a fork.

As the quinoa is cooking, roast the sliced almonds and sunflower seeds in a pan with ½ teaspoon olive oil and salt to taste. Stir very frequently as they can burn quickly! When the almonds and sunflower seeds are done, toss the onion into the hot pan and sauté with the garlic, parsley and thyme until it starts to go translucent and fragrant. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, parmesan, almonds, sunflower seeds and onion. Fill squash halves and return them to the oven for 10 minutes. Cover if you wish to keep everything moist, and leave open if you want a bit of a crust.

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Summer 2014

Rancho's Breakfast Mix Oatmeal

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins For breakfast, dessert, snacks or whenever you want they’re delicious!

Richard's simple way to make a quick and nutritious breakfast for yourself or the whole family.

Ingredients: 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 3 ripe bananas, mashed 1 egg, lightly beaten ½ cup whole brown sugar or palm sugar ¼ cup melted butter 1 tsp vanilla extract ½ cup dark chocolate chips ½ cup raw walnuts

Ingredients: ½ cup Rancho's Breakfast Mix 1 cup rolled oats Pinch of salt Enough water to just cover mixture

Optional: Milk of choice or yogurt to finish Place Rancho Vignola Breakfast Mix in a pot with rolled oats and a pinch of salt. Add enough water to just cover the mixture. Place in fridge and let soak overnight. When you're ready for breakfast, simply warm up your soaked mixture to eating temperature. Add milk or yogurt if desired.

h batch of Richard and Jill mix a fres idant Goji tiox An er Rancho's Own Sup ouse. reh wa ng Mix at the Armstro

Note: Using this method, there is no need to boil or otherwise cook the ingredients. The fruits will have plumped out and released their sweetness, and the oats will already be nice and mushy!

In another bowl, mix together the bananas, egg, sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Once that is well combined, add the walnuts and chocolate chips. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Careful not to over-bake!

from the



ur ongoing series of cooking videos continues, with fun and interesting new additions to the ever-expanding recipe library and YouTube channel. Each filming brings together a fresh mix of ideas, tastes, and personalities to deliver creative recipes using Rancho products in ways you may never have considered. Keep visiting our blog for the latest recipes as we release them.

Director Natalia Vignola sets up the perfect shot.

Summer 2014

Mix the first four ingredients together.

This recipe will make 6 large muffins, or 12 small.


Rancho friends bring their recipes, music, and kids to be part of the food fun. From top right: Robyn Holm, Heidi Jordan & baby Lewes, Jayme and Cyrus McKillop, Mardelle Hansen, Cloé Bailly Vignola, and musical cook Kian Water.

Preheat oven to 350°F.


Page 13



t’s been a busy year at Rancho Cooling & Warehouse.

Our vision of supporting local farmers, growers, vintners, brewers, food processors, manufacturers and distributors in their warehousing needs has come to fruition over the past 14 months. We are storing locally produced fruit, vegetables, meat, wine, juice and many different value-added food products.

storage. Our storage rates are dependent on storage temperature, the number of pallets stored and duration of storage. Rancho Cooling & Warehouse is gaining a reputation for providing exemplary customer service, so if you or someone you know is in need of frozen, refrigerated or dry storage, please do not hesitate to contact us: 250-938-5062 • cooling@ranchovignola.com


As a refresher, we are a commercial frozen, refrigerated and dry storage Rancho Cooling's Dave Maw stands ready warehouse facility located in to assist with your warehouse needs! Armstrong right next to Rancho Vignola. We are fully racked and have six convenient loading/ unloading docks and ample space for ease of truck manoeuvring. We have cooling/freezing capability to -29ºC / -20ºF as well as dry

Investment Opportunity Your chance to be a part of Rancho Vignola’s future!


ast summer we extended an invitation to our customers to invest in Rancho Vignola / Rancho Cooling’s warehouse complex. To those of you who responded, we'd like to let you know that we are finally ready to proceed, and you may have already received your share offer package.

Company founders Sue and Richard Vignola. Page 14

Your minimum $25,000 investment will buy shares into Rancho Vignola Distributors Ltd, and sister company, Rancho Cooling & Warehouse Ltd. With its freezer and cooler facility now fully booked, Rancho Cooling & Warehouse already generates enough revenue to pay for most of Rancho Vignola’s warehouse, packaging and office spaces. There are currently six additional tenants on the 5.5-acre property generating additional revenue. An ownership position will enable us to share in the revenues generated from the whole property, rather than just the Rancho Cooling tenants.

What your investment will buy: • Shares of equivalent value issued by Rancho Vignola Distributors Ltd. • Investment in a company you know and trust. What you will receive: • A dividend of 6% per annum payable in October each and every year. • The assurance that your shares will be redeemable at their full face value. • A 10% discount off your annual wholesale order. There are only a limited number of share packages available. If you are interested and would like more information, please email us: investment@ranchovignola.com


Summer 2014

Introducing Indra I

Staff Profile

ndra McMorran began working with Rancho Vignola seasonally three years ago, and moved into the position of Rancho’s Office Manager this past year. Passionate about food and photography, Indra has also been instrumental in testing and developing the ever-growing recipe section on our website. You could say Indra grew up on Rancho Vignola products. Her parents, Bruce and Josée McMorran, are long-time customers who would distribute Rancho products from their home on Cortes Island, with homeschoolers Indra and her brother Solomon assisting. (The McMorrans operate a kayaking wilderness resort in the remote Broughton Archipelago - www.paddlersinn.ca.) With an affinity for horses, Indra was initially drawn to the Okanagan to study the Tellington TTouch training method (Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method - TTEAM) at a facility just outside of Vernon, BC. An avid gardener, jewellery designer, and fitness buff too, Indra’s organizational skills make her a valuable asset to Rancho’s team!

Indra and her Arabian horse Abu put their Tellington TTouch training into action.

Charitable Giving Request Form


ancho Vignola strongly believes in supporting events, not-for-profit organizations and people in need. Each year we are flooded with requests for product donations, gift baskets and sponsorships, so we have decided to set up an official Charitable Giving Request form that can be easily submitted by email. This will help us keep better track of our donations inventory and recipients each year.

Melissa puts the finishing touches on a Gourmet Gif t at our Armstro ng facility.

We thank you for your continued support. Feeding our community makes us proud! Find our online request form here:  www.ranchovignola.com/donation-sponsorship-form.html

Have a question for the Rancho team? We have a FAQ page on our website, and product-specific information is listed in the Products section. If you didn’t find your answer you can email or call us:

info@ranchovignola.com • 1-877-639-2767

Summer 2014


of claim on the fresh shipment Natalia & Sue stake their a. ali str onds from South Au organic unpasteurized alm Page 15



from the

Memories of 2013 - Another year filled with food, friends & fun! Sticky Bu siness! Narinder gets stuck wit bagging r aisins at th h e Rancho w arehouse.

On a Mission


Cayley a nd P th e Vernon am sample the ? e h go Harvest n't Event in ods at ind me, is ng she's He's beh li N e ovembe fe e th r. duct gets Michelle ed as she bags pro h tc a w being house. ncho ware at the Ra

at the tidies up e ll e h ic M ent. arvest Ev Vernon H

Cheryl jumps into action as customers arrive in Vernon.

Step This Way Camrose Alanna explains to eager samples. customers where to find the

And the Winner Is...

winner Jayme and Airdrie staff draw for the of the Harvest Event Gift Basket.

Food For All

t on Rancho's ger to help ou ea is e on ry ve E n Day. Bank Donatio d oo F al nu an

Food & Fun Lisa keeps things light as she helps Vernon customers with their orders.

Dawn, Michelle an d Barb welcome customers to the Ve rnon Harvest Even t.

Sue discusses fascinating food facts with Andrew from Vernon's KISS FM radio.

Maris takes money and hands out smiles in Aird rie.


Page 16


Summer 2014

Profile for Rancho Vignola Nuts & Dried Fruit

Rancho Vignola's 2014 Summer Newsletter  

Rancho Vignola's annual summer newsletter packed with crop news, product information, recipes, and more!

Rancho Vignola's 2014 Summer Newsletter  

Rancho Vignola's annual summer newsletter packed with crop news, product information, recipes, and more!