Tony and Penny Marshall are growing more than just food for their many partners and customers at their High River, Alberta area farm; they are growing relationships and conversations.
Highwood Crossing Farms, which has been in Tony’s family for almost 120 years, is a certified organic farm and food processing business.
He and his wife made the change to organic farming and food processing when they took over the operation from his father about 30 years ago, a change that brought them back to their family’s roots using methods used by his Great-Grandfather and Grandfather.
“It was a return to the basics for us,” says Tony. “For us it was a choice to be organic of course because they would have been farming organically, but they were organic by default. Whereas we are organic by choice.”
He may have been in the business a long time, but his energy and passion for what he does is as high as ever.
“Any agriculture whether it is organic or conventional. I don’t have to go to Las Vegas to get my thrills at the table it’s a constant challenge. The weather being one of the biggest factors that we have to deal with. I would have to say that there is never a dull moment when you are farming or in the food business.”
Marshall says one of the best parts of this operation is the relationships they have forged with their customers and partners.
“Not only are we growing the food here at Highwood Crossing, but we are taking those crops and adding value to them and selling them to restaurants and retail stores all across Canada. The support we have from the marketplace is one of the main things that keeps me getting up every morning and coming to work, we just have had amazing support over the years from our clients, we are just so very fortunate in that regard.”
Marshall recounts one of the first relationships they formed with the River Café.
“Many years ago we started to grow a chef’s garden, we had about 80 different varieties of heirloom vegetables and edible flowers and we were primarily growing for the River Café in Calgary. The Chef there at the time was Glen Manzer. And I went in to see him and suggested we could grow some unique vegetables for him and asked if he would be interested in buying some of those and supporting us and he looked at the list that I had and said yah you bet we will take everything you can produce. So that was the start of wonderful relationship with the River Café as well as many other chefs and restaurants in Calgary and area . ”
One of those relationships with James Boettcher and Fiasco Gelato was put on display for everyone to see and sample at ATB Financial’s A Seat at our Table Event in Calgary in June in the form of a delicious Saskatoon Berry Gelato, which launched many conversations most of which began with the words.. WOW and YUM….
Highwood Crossing is one of many farms participating in ATB Financial’s A Seat at Our Table educating consumers on the Agri-Food products made in Alberta.