On a beautiful July summer evening 25 folks toured 3 small businesses and their gardens involved in food growing in the Roseau River/ Woodmore area. It was the fourth year of touring food gardens in the RM of Emerson-Franklin with the intent of learning from each other.
We started the tour at Abby and Karsten Mueller’s farm in Woodmore. This young, energetic couple with two young boys and one on the way have just finished their first year selling berries. Karsten explained to us what was involved in starting their strawberry farm, J Creek Berries. They planted 26,000 plants – a winter hardy variety called Kent, on about 1.6 acres. All of it is watered with a drip irrigation system. They had both u-pick and pre-picked strawberries available. Along with other u-picks in Manitoba, they faced a lot of winter kill. Even so, both said they are enjoying their new venture. They have renovated a sweet little barn into a small store to sell berries and other local products. This is just the beginning… we look forward to seeing how this venture grows in future years.
Next, we visited Brenda and Corney Dyck of Cobren Farms, near Roseau River. They own and operate a greenhouse operation in spring and a Harvest Share or CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) business growing and supplying 10 families with garden produce. Folks with a small or no garden who appreciate locally grown and freshly picked produce sign up with full payment in early spring to receive 12 baskets filled with produce currently in season. They also showed us several gardens dedicated to ornamental pumpkins and corn that they grow for Shelmerdine Garden Center in Winnipeg.
Our last stop was the home of Peter and Linda Elias, and Country Relax’n B&B, also near Roseau River. They have a park-like country property with many trees, flowers and shrubs, but our focus was on their very robust food garden and orchard. Peter explained to us a simple crop rotation system that maximizes productivity while minimizing pests and disease. If this intrigues you, check out www.betterhensandgardens.com garden crop rotation. The evening ended with snacks and conversation around the fire pit.