From farm to table: Chartwell visits local farm to learn their story

Have you ever enjoyed a delicious meal at a Chartwell retirement residence? Did you wonder where the fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients on your plate came from?

At Chartwell, we strive to source our vegetables, fruit, dairy, and meat from local farms through our suppliers. Recently, our Senior Director of Food & Beverage, John Curtis and Chartwell food purchasing specialist Patricia Page—along with Tammy and Brandon from our partner, Fresh Start—visited a farm in Ontario to hear their story and learn more about the ingredients that form the foundation of our meals.

Touring Saliba Farms

Brandon Saliba is a fourth-generation farmer and the owner of Saliba Farms, located in Milton, Ontario. His farm is the main provider of cauliflower, broccoli, corn, and cabbage to Chartwell residences in Ontario and beyond. While touring the farm and learning about the Saliba’s unique family legacy, John learned a number of interesting facts about the care that goes behind the growing and harvesting process, how produce ends up on your plate, as well as how supporting farmers by emphasizing farm-to-table food can make a real difference, both locally and globally.

The story behind every harvest

At Saliba Farms, each vegetable is handled with care. For example, Brandon explained that Saliba Farms plants and harvests over 250,000 cauliflower each year, and to prevent sunburns, workers painstakingly tie each sprout’s leaves one by one. Yes—those little brown spots you see at the grocery store are sunburns and demonstrate when a farm hasn’t taken the time to properly protect their produce! It just goes to show that more than just the ingredient itself, it’s the workers who put in the effort and attention to detail that matters.

From local farms to our tables

Once all the plants are harvested, Tammy and Brandon explained that the ingredients travel from the farm to Fresh Start, one of our distributors just six kilometres away from Saliba Farms—as opposed to the 4,300 kilometres travelled from California by other products—to nearby Chartwell retirement residences. Once in the hands of our Food & Beverage teams, these fresh vegetables are crafted into delicious and nutritious from-scratch meals. With more than 750 recipes conceived in Chartwell’s Culinary Centre, our seasonal dishes highlight these wonderful ingredients, providing our residents with a healthy variety of choices and flavours to enjoy.

The positive impact of supporting local farmers

One of the most memorable learnings from the visit to Saliba Farm was hearing how Brandon was making the lives of his workers better. “Saliba employs over 25 employees from Jamaica each year, some of whom have celebrated their 25th year anniversary and 10th year anniversary with the farm,” John explained. “It was wonderful to see how Brandon understands the reality of poverty in Jamaica and ensures that the families of his workers are well supported back home too.”

Our hope for a sustainable future

By engaging in sustainable practices, Chartwell is striving to do more than source fresh, local ingredients for our residents. We know our actions have a ripple effect within our communities and in our environment too. As such, we’re proud to be working with Fresh Start and are excited to continue to grow our relationships with local farmers across Canada and amplify their stories.

As John concluded, “It’s amazing to see the endless fields, the careful harvest techniques, and to be able to bite into a fresh piece of broccoli right off the plant. Then, you realize you’re doing much more than buying produce, but you’re helping families from miles away.”

Learn more about our dining experience – including our nutritious and delicious daily features and à la carte menu – by clicking here.