The store is an extension of who I am, what I believe and what I do.
—Monique Buckmaster, owner
Red River General Store is the kind of place your great, great grandmother would have shopped in.
Garden vegetables, freshly baked breads and scones, antiques and home-made soaps stock aged wooden shelves inside the rural store north of Winnipeg.
Organic, loose-leaf teas line the shelves inside Red River General Store in Narol, just north of Winnipeg. (Robin Summerfield)
But owner Monique Buckmaster is on a much bigger mission than selling vintage treasures, farm-fresh produce and charming trinkets from days gone by.
Local, organic and fair-trade food is the 38-year-old's rallying cry. And conversely, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are poisoning our bodies and hurting our health, she says. That's a message she tries to drive home to new customers. "I have definitely had my soap-box moments."
That doesn't seem to have hurt business.
Monique Buckmaster, who has been in the antiques business for 20 years, scouts out treasures like this vintage tricycle. (Robin Summerfield)
The store, located at 5700 Henderson Highway, marked its one-year anniversary in late April. "The store is an extension of who I am, what I believe and what I do," says the mother of three who also owns Vintage Veruca Antiques in Winnipeg.
At her home in nearby Narol, processed foods are a no-no. Every year, Buckmaster cans, preserves and dehydrates a harvest of fruits and vegetables she farms in her two-acre garden. She buys locally raised and free-range meats. And the family has begun raising their own chickens. (Goats are also in the works.)
Buckmaster has also been an organic market gardener for the past three years, selling her fruits and vegetables at Pine Ridge Hollow's farmers' market.
Sprouted potato seedlings are ready for planting. (Robin Summerfield)
Back at Red River General Store, she sells and teaches what she believes. Manitoba-made honey, preserves, fruit spreads, pickled beans and crabapple butter are hot sellers. So are the organic loose-leaf teas and spices, the latter of which she bottles on site.
Classes in canning and preserving, straw hay bale and organic gardening and a kids farm camp are in the works for summer 2013. Behind the store, a barn will be transformed into a produce market.
As Buckmaster says: "We want to help people make this change."Red River General Store is open Friday to Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.