Jason Tschetter is an earnest young man. His hair is parted down the middle and neatly combed on each side in the traditional Hutterite manner. He seems older than his 27 years, until he smiles. Jason is in charge of the Meat Shop at the Green Leaf Hutterite Colony and the added responsibility of having been voted the colony’s second minister 4 months ago has broadened his shoulders.
“Just come to the town of Marcelin, SK. and turn east for 4 miles,” he directs over the phone. “You’ll see the sign.”
I arrive at the Meat Shop at the same time as Harold Greyeyes from the Muskeg Lake First Nation and Jason eagerly presents us with a platter of sausage and pepperoni samples. “Our meat is farm raised, no hormones, no force feeding, no MSG, no fillers, and mostly gluten free” he explains as we dive into a truly delicious assortment.
Muskeg Lake was one of Green Leaf’s first customers. “A few years ago, we were taking some Elders to Saskatoon and we passed by the sign and stopped in,” Greyeyes tells me between bites. “The meat tasted good and we felt better after eating it so we came back. We need a better diet,” Greyeyes admits, “Our people struggle with diabetes and a lack of good nutrition.”
Depression and other mental illnesses have been scientifically linked to a lack of proper nutrient’s. Prince Albert family physician, Noelene Le Roux says that an unhealthy diet can lead to Iron, B 12 and vitamin D deficiencies and that in her practice she sees first hand the “relationship between those factors and compromised health”
Fresh meat and produce widely available in local stores is a luxury northern communities can only dream about. When Green Leaf reached out to La Loche and Buffalo Narrows they were eager to give their products a try. “The meat they sell is just excellent,” says the Buffalo Narrows school secretary. It’s a good service that they’re offering. We love the variety packs of chicken, beef and pork. They deliver anything we order and are very accommodating.”
Candace Janvier from the village office in La Loche echo’s those sentiments. “The Hutterites come up at the end of every month,” says Janvier. “They have a reputation for good quality, good prices and a good selection. Our relationship with Jason and his workers is very good.”
“Its built on trust,” says Jason. “That’s the main thing. They have to trust us and we have to trust them. They are community people like us and we have a kind of understanding between us.”
Green Leaf Colony currently provides 6 Aboriginal communities with fresh meat but would welcome more customers. The colony has a large capacity butcher shop that is provincially inspected each month. In addition to chickens, the colony butchers 20-30 pork and 5-10 beef a week depending on orders. Green Leaf produces at least 10 varieties of sausage.
An array of Green Leaf meat products is available at The Rusty Owl Restaurant on River Street in Prince Albert. A steady stream of customers is finding its way to the freezer in the back of restaurant to purchase meat and sausage the colony delivers fresh weekly.
In addition to slaughtering their own farm raised animals the colony also processes wild meat such as bison, elk and moose for Aboriginal customers.“They want their wild meat done professionally and they keep the hide, the horns and the insides; the liver, the heart, the kidneys,” Jason explains. “They waste nothing. They kill it and we skin it for them but we give the skins back to them.”
While Jason’s heart is invested in the success of the colony Meat Shop he has an important mentor looking over his shoulder. Rachel Wollman, the “chicken lady” from Leask Colony who for years peddled chickens from the colony van in the Prince Albert area is his Aunt. Rachel was beloved by everyone she came into contact with. She charmed the customers while her husband Josh did the driving. Rachel blazed the trail for Jason and although she’s retired from the chicken business she has not retired from dispensing good advice.
“Aunt Rachel (Basel) calls me all the time,” says Jason. “She reminds me that the most important thing is to be honorable, to be fair and to give people a quality product. That way she says God will bless us and its pretty hard to argue with that.”
Contact the Green Leaf Meat Shop at 306-466-7409.
Mary-Ann Kirkby is a Hutterite author and professional speaker. Signed copies of her books are available at the Rusty Owl Restaurant in P. A. and at www.polkadotpress.ca. Contact Mary-Ann at email@example.com
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