Contest Run February 4th -15th:
Tell us how you love to eat your local yogurt...
And we'll enter you to win a 1.5kg container of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt & a copy of The Book of Yogurt by Sonia Uvezian.
Photos, recipes & love songs encouraged!
Everyone that posts on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/treeislandgourmetyogurt or submits under Contact Us on our website will be entered.
We will choose some entries to post on our blog and pick one random winner at 5pm on Friday, Feb 15th.
Fermented foods are making a come back. Miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt - these foods are alive with good bacteria - and share a history as traditional foods used to sustain life before our modern food system. In fact, yogurt is one of the original ways to preserve milk before there was refrigeration. It has a long history in culinary traditions of the east and was brought to the King of France back in the 16th century, when he was suffering from poor digestion. It was the live lactic acid bacteria that worked their wonders. In our bodies, lactic bacteria synthesize B vitamins and help us to absorb proteins and minerals.
We came across this traditional rice and lentil dish called Mujaddara with yogurt on Food52. It is true winter comfort food - it has all the right spice to warm up a cold January night and invigorate your body and senses.
Over the past few months I have had the chance to learn so much about the local food community in the Comox Valley. Scott and Merissa's Cream-Top yogurt is full of natural ingredients that are sourced from our community!
For the Island Honey yogurt, we get natural and local honey from Big D’s Bees in Black Creek, BC. This honey farm is run by Daniel, a passionate beekeeper that has been fascinated with bugs ever since he was young. In high school he acquired his first hives, and he later decided to take his love for bees a step further and went to the college for horticulture. Daniel did his practicum with a beekeeper, which gave him more knowledge to help produce the delicious fireweed honey that we use in the yogurt.
The Vanilla Bean yogurt contains organic and fair trade beans from Madagascar. We purchase the delicious vanilla beans from Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary in Cumberland, BC. Yarrow and Angela Willard, owners of Harmonic Arts, are passionate about the medicinal power of plants and provide us with high quality vanilla beans that come from a sustainable source.
Using ingredients that come from sustainable and local sources helps build community and makes the yogurt taste that much better!
-Amy, Tree Island Yogurt Intern
Food and travel journalist, Don Genova, recently featured us in “Food Matters: Tree Island Yogurt” on CBC radio's All Points West BC. Don talked with Jo-Ann Roberts, host of the radio show, about Scott and Merissa’s “yogurt epiphany” and some of the hoops that they went through to get to this point!
Jo-Ann sampled the yogurt and told the listeners what she thought,
“Ya know Don…I don’t normally like plain yogurt. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and I find it so bitter. But this is so good. I have eaten all my plain yogurt… No bitterness. It’s not tart. It’s so smooth.”
It was great to receive Jo-Ann’s awesome feedback!
Thank you Don for coming out here to learn about the Tree Island Yogurt Story. Your great work has helped spread the word about our yogurt.
Picture taken by Don Genova for his blog
Listen to the radio show here: http://www.cbc.ca/allpointswest/food-matters/2012/11/01/artisan-yogurt/
Check out Don’s blog: http://blog.dongenova.com/2012/11/food-matters-tree-island-gourmet-yogurt.html
- Amy, Tree Island Yogurt intern
We were at the Comox Valley Farmers' Market about a week ago handing out samples to a large bunch of yogurt lovers! To keep up with the amount of people that were coming to try the yogurt, I was in the back kitchen filling sample cups full of Honey Cream-Top Yogurt.
When I stepped out of the kitchen and into the open market area, I could hear people buzzing about Scott and Merissa’s yogurt. Every time I had a full tray of yogurt, it was gone in the blink of an eye! The response from everyone was amazing! I was lucky enough to get to finish off the last bit of yogurt that was left, and WOW! It was so delicious! This gourmet yogurt really is something special.
Here are some comments from people that sampled the yogurt:
" Smooth! Rich Tangy."
"Splendidly Creamy, Love it!"
"Innovative, Inspiring, Yummy."
Sampling yogurt! Scott and Merissa's son Sebastian helping out!
These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement! Scott and Merissa are busy fine-tuning the yogurt production, and responding to many yogurt requests that have come about from an awesome article that was published in The Echo and Times Colonist! This article shares their personal story and what led them to starting Vancouver Island's first artisan yogurt company. It all started with a trip to France... Read about it below!
Wow, thanks to our lucky stars! We've had an overwhelming response and it became clear this week that we need to have a breath before we start delivering to stores. Production at an artisan dairy is busy! We will be in stores soon and will let you know when we make our first deliveries!
When I arrived at the plant on Wedensday morning I could hear Scott busy working away. He had been up since the crack of dawn getting everything ready for the milk delivery. It was hard to believe that we were finally getting enough raw milk to test our equipment and make a big batch of yogurt.
As an intern and a “rookie yogurtier,” the whole process of getting the milk fascinated me. It all started with the milk that came from our “red and white ladies” at Brikdale Farm! Once the milk was ready, Glen, our deliveryman, picked up the fresh milk and brought it over to us. When Glen arrived, he hopped out of his truck, hooked everything up in a few seconds, and pumped the milk into the tank. He made it look so easy!
Knowing that it took so much persistence for Scott and Merissa to get a dairy license, made me appreciate getting the milk so much more. I had never been so happy to see one thousand liters of milk in my life! Now all I have to say is “Hi YO, Hi YO it’s off to making yogurt we go!”
Glen getting ready to pump the milk into the tank.
The very first sign of milk!
Scott making sure the milk is coming in smoothly!
We headed to Birkdale Farm in Comox last week with local photographer, Sharon Macdonnell, to meet Guy Simms and his stunning ladies - a herd of 200 Ayrshire cows. Known as the ‘red and white’ cows, this herd grazes on 120 acres of rolling grass pasture right in the heart of Comox. With modern houses and subdivisions now backing onto the property, the fields of Birkdale feel like the remnant of a bygone era.
Sharon taking photos of the ladies! Guy Sim (right) and two of his helpers!
Sharon, a Comox Valley native, says she remembers living in the area as a girl. “I used to swing on an apple tree that backed onto this property.” That was almost 30 years ago when Guthrie was still a dirt road. Guy agrees that life in the valley has changed quite a bit, but his family’s commitment to farming hasn’t. “My family was quiet adventurous to come here,” he says. “I like to think of the settlers as the hippies of today. They were committed to this way of life.”
We are pleased to introduce Ms. Amy van den Hooven, co-op student extrordinaire and TIGY intern. Originally from the Comox Valley, Amy is joining us from UBC, where she is studying environmental sustainability. This semester, she is learning all she can about local food systems, social media and yogurt making. We are so happy to have her as part of the team. Look for Amy at local events. This lady has a knack for chatting and passion for learning and making the world a better place.
We are almost there! The inspector is coming for his last visit this week, and hopefully we will receive the seal of approval to start making yogurt. With help from friends and family we are getting the yogurt plant ready for his inspection. Cross your fingers for us!
In the meantime, we have decided that it is better for us to attend Flavour: the North Vancouver Island's Gourmet Picnic this Sunday as guests and save our yogurt for our official launch date! We are very excited to taste all the delicious food and to meet other local “foodies”. You might be able to spot our yogurt lovin’ crew in our new “Love Local Yogurt” t-shirts!
Here is a video interview with hanspetermeyer about our yogurt and the Flavour event coming up this Sunday. Enjoy!
Calling all yogurt lovers out there to envision Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt at your farmers market, farm gate and grocer ASAP!
We are ready and waiting for the inspector to arrive before we can get to market, and my fingers are crossed that he can make the trip to Vancouver Island before the end of the month! (He is on holidays right now).
We have a growing list of places that our yogurt will be sold and we want to hear from you - where would you like to buy our product. Find us at www.facebook.com/treeislandgourmetyogurt and let us know where - grocers, bakers, markets, specialty stores. We are looking for the best locations from Campbell River to Victoria. Send us your suggestions!
We have a winner! Congratulations to Sadie Hodson of Denman Island. This lucky lady just won a month's worth of Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt.
We are still waiting for Sadie to contact us for her prize, so if you know this yogurt lover, please tell her to give us a call!
A sincere thank-you to everyone that participated in the event - And especially to those who continue to "Like" and "Share" our news with friends and family. It is exciting to see a little yogurt company in the Comox Valley gain support all over Vancouver Island. There truly is something special happening in the island's local food movement and we are so happy to be a part of it!
Join us on Facebook and Win Yogurt!
In August, we will open the first artisan yogurt company on Vancouver Island. Our official launch date will be announced soon. To kick things off, we are inviting everyone to connect with us on Facebook. If you "Like" or "Share" our page by Friday, August 10th 2012, we will enter you into a draw to win yogurt for your family for a month!
Stay tuned for our official launch date and a list of our retail locations.
After four months of intense construction, I can honestly say that every batch of our yogurt begins with a good measure of community, love and enduring commitment!
We are continuously inspired by our family and friends who have brought so much support and expertise to our business. Thank you so much to Uncle Randy who installed several hundred meters of copper pipe and dairy equipment, Granny and Gramps for sleeping in their Westfalia for a week while working on the dairy floors and building entrance, Errington and Rick for wrestling heavy sheets of mold resistant drywall and Hans and his crew for painting several coats of super strong epoxy on the walls. Our friends Karen and Jackie brought a crew of people to clean and set-up shelves and our old friend Phil stepped in to officially connect our city water. Dave and Bob are working their electric magic as I write and David, Eric, Terry, Dyan, Gerry, Christine and Heather continue to add invaluable mentorship and insights for which we are so blessed. Thank you everyone for helping to make Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt a success!
Summer is here and many of you are wondering, where's the yogurt? Good news! It is on its way. We are adding the final coat of protective paint and installing the dairy equipment as I write. We are now less than a month away from opening the first artisan yogurt dairy on Vancouver Island. It is exciting and we are taking care do it right. Sometimes I laugh and joke that this yogurt is 'slow food' in its true essence. Construction, permits and approvals all take time. But we know it is worth the wait and are making the most of it. We're connecting with core supporters, grocers, markets and buyers clubs for our launch and cultivating patience and understanding: It takes community support and determination to build sustainable, local food systems - and it happens one business at a time. Things are coming together, so stay tuned for details. In the meantime, here is some food for thought from Michael Pollan. High quality, locally produced food is good for our health, economy and community. It is this knowledge that keeps us going.
E-Commerce/Social Media Intern
Term Position: September - December 2012
420 hours (35 hours per week, 12 weeks).
Location - Comox Valley, Vancouver Island
$15 per hour
Student must be under the age of 30, legally entitled to work in Canada and returning to school following the internship
We are looking for a creative and energetic intern with a passion for social media, agriculture, food production and sustainability. The intern will work with Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt (TIGY) owners to strengthen and execute the company's e-commerce and social media plan. The Intern will play a critical role in using e-commerce tools to build TIGY's business on Vancouver Island.
1: Positive attitude and passion for entrepreneurship, health food and sustainability
2. Strong problem solving skills and ability to overcome all obstacles to achieve goals
3: Experience utilizing e-commerce tools, such as web forms, blogs, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc.
4: Fundamental understanding of current web technologies
5. Commitment to long-term success of e-commerce strategy and business
6: Experience using social networking to promote business
7: Excellent verbal and written communication skills
8: Ability to work independently within strict timelines
Please email Merissa@treeislandyogurt.com for full description. We are accepting applications by email until June 25th 2012.
Wow, what an incredible month. Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt has been a hub of activity with carpenters, concrete men, our uncle the plumber, an electrician, grandparents and even little workers! We truly have a creative and energetic bunch helping us to build our artisan dairy plant. Scott, head yogurtier turned construction manager, has been an amazing force getting everyone coordinated, ordering materials and lining up the dairy equipment to be installed. John Czegledi and his big crew at Creative Concrete worked their magic - pouring 2000 sq feet of beautiful graded concrete. Now that looked heavy! And George Slomp, carpenter, friend and dutch dairyman, has proven when there is passion and patience there might actually be more than 24 hours in a day! Thank you so much to everyone for working so hard to getting our business up and running this spring (We still have until June 20th!) And we are almost there...
You may have sampled cream-top yogurt in the US or Europe or remember old fashioned milk with cream that rises to the top of the glass milk bottle. Cream-top yogurt is similar. At Tree Island, we slow cook unhomogenized milk and let the cream rise to the top - exactly as it does when milk comes fresh from a cow. This forms a delectable layer of cream on the yogurt.
Our traditional recipe is loved by whole food enthusiasts, because it honors the true composition of milk. You can stir in the cream or eat it right from the top. You can even scoop off the cream from the top and just eat the yogurt on the bottom if you want a lower fat recipe. Whichever you choose, you’ll have the real thing - fresh and light tasting whole milk yogurt- no gelatin, skim milk powder or cream added. Available in BC only from Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt.
We are sending our gourmet yogurt to places that yogurt lovers spend their time - the specialty grocer, farmers market and even your home. In June, we are teaming up with SPUDS in Victoria and Sunshine Organics in the Comox Valley who will deliver our yogurt directly to your door with minimum orders of vegetables and grocery staples. We have also started a Tree Island Buyers Club called the 'Herd.' This is a special group of supporters who LOVE yogurt and want an ongoing supply of gourmet yogurt delivered to their home in the Comox Valley or Oak Bay area of Victoria.
Members of the Tree Island Herd will:
1. Be among the first to sample our yogurt
2. Receive a weekly delivery of yogurt to their door in an ice-packed cooler
3. Have the opportunity to test new seasonal flavours and recipes
4. Provide feedback on our products.
Space is limited. If you are interested in receiving more information, sign-up at Get Our Yogurt.
Spring is in full swing and we are working hard to bring you gourmet yogurt this June.
We recently installed trench drains, our new passion and backbone of our artisan dairy studio. Trench drains are a critical component of keeping our facility spic and span - and becoming licensed to process raw milk by the BC Centre for Disease Control. Next steps are concrete pouring for a certified dairy processing floor, finishing work and equipment installation.
We know the serious foodies and engineers want to see the inner workings and learn what it takes to get a cup of yogurt to market, so we are inviting our friends, neighbours and supporters to a Taste & Tour event. Stay tuned for dates.
After bumping into an old friend at Edible Island Whole Foods Market this summer and doing the customary, 'so what brings you to the valley chat,' the word was out that Scott and I were starting a yogurt company. We have grown in leaps and bounds this last year and news of our venture hit this issue of InFocus (February/March, 2012) - the Comox Valley's lifestyle magazine http://www.infocusmagazine.ca/.
We are thrilled to share our story with other families, entreprenuers and food enthusiasts! Sincere thank you to the InFocus magazine staff for helping us to put our best foot forward as we move towards our spring 2012 launch.
You may also have noticed from the lovely accompanying photos that our package design has been evolving. We are excited to be able to offer our yogurts in beautifully designed glass jars this spring!
We continue to explore the many and varied options for packaging yogurt (packaging is a complex business) and hope that we can share with you the innovations that we find exciting!
2011 has been a big year for us at Tree Island but the best development came right at the end of the year when we acquired a wonderful piece of property on the Old Island Highway between Royston and Courtenay. In acquiring this property we also inherited a lovely old warehouse which is going to make an excellent home for our new dairy plant. We're looking forward to getting construction underway in early 2012 and production in spring...
Our son has also been very excited about the prospect of a new building project and has been volunteering his design ideas :-)
We're very excited to be bringing you our delicious whole milk and authentic mediterranean yogurts in the new year!
To all a great season!
Scott and Merissa