Garlic is one of those essential ingredients that most of us throw in our shopping cart without thinking. But there are hundreds of beautiful and complex varieties of this aromatic bulb, and one Alberta farmer is on a mission to bring gourmet garlic to our kitchens and dinner tables. Cheryl Greisinger grew up in Calgary and worked in the oil and gas sector for many years, before quitting the rat race to start Forage & Farm on an acreage near Millarville, in the foothills of the Rockies.
Starting out with a large garden, Cheryl learned the principles of permaculture; designing farming systems that have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. Growing her operations with sustainability in mind, Cheryl now runs a successful and award-winning regenerative farm. This means her crops improve the quality of the soil over time, rather than stripping it of nutrients. Her team plant, tend, harvest and clean the garlic by hand, with regular checks to ensure the fields stay disease-free and customers receive a top-quality product.
One of ‘The Garlic Queen’s’ most popular offerings is the delicious Black Garlic. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘fermented’, but the process actually involves gently heating the garlic for a period of several weeks. The finished product has the distinctive black colour and soft, fig-like texture. The flavour is sweet and caramelized, a bit like a balsamic vinegar reduction, with smoky undertones. You’ll find it on the Juniper Bistro menu in dishes like our braised Alberta Beef Short Rib. Be warned…once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to stock up on a bulb or two for your home kitchen! No wonder it took home a Made in Alberta Award in 2019.
As well as supplying amazing garlic products to restaurants, farmer’s markets and direct to consumers, Cheryl and her husband James share their homesteading skills to help others live closer to the land. A professional blacksmith with over 25 years’ experience, James hosts smithing classes from his studio at the farm, and workshops in foraging, soap-making and garlic growing are also on offer throughout the year. You can even volunteer your time to assist with planting the garlic crop, learning plenty about farming in the fresh air along the way.
We’re proud to support Cheryl, give our guests a taste of her delicious products and welcome her to the hotel on her visits to Banff. If you would like to get your hands on some Forage & Farm goodies, check the website for vendors across Alberta, or order online for farm pickup or delivery on select items. We can also highly recommend the Garlic Scape Pesto!