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Growing local: Grand opening of Codroy Valley farm

By RYAN KING

Megan Samms of Katalisk Sipu Gardens is an experienced beekeeper and, alongside partner Ash Hall, produces a wide variety of local foods and goods. – © Ryan King / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

CODROY VALLEY — Buying local can be a bigger challenge in more remote areas, but those on the Southwest coast looking for locally-sourced produce are in luck. Katalisk Sipu Gardens had their grand opening on Saturday, July 3.

The farm is owned and operated by Megan Samms and partner Ash Hall. The pair had planned to open the garden the previous weekend, but were forced to postpone thanks to the rainy weather.

That delay didn’t seem to dissuade customers as the opening weekend appeared to be a great success. There were several giveaways, including a $100 gift certificate, a soap set, and a salve set. As part of the opening, the farm was able to make a donation to the Residential School Survivors Society of $100.

“We’ve been doing markets for the past year, so we’ve kind of been selling our products for a year at the markets that we organize, but this has been our first farm stand opening,” said Samms.

It’s not just freshly grown vegetables available from Katalisk Sipu Gardens. The entrepreneurs also produce beauty products, cut flowers, herbs, and both duck and chicken eggs, all of which can be purchased, with debit, credit, or cash, at their farm stand at the garden. Near the end of closing, the demand was so great that they had entirely sold out of chicken eggs.

Samms held a tour that began with the two bee hives. One unique aspect of the hives is that they are in horizontal boxes, instead of the vertical hives than most tend to expect.

“With next year’s breeding, we’d like to bring them up to 10 or 12 colonies, and then after that I’ll probably stop after 12 or 15,” said Samms.

There are roughly 130 beekeepers in the province, and Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the last places in the world with a stable, disease and pest-free bee population. The Katalisk Sipu Garden bees seemed docile and unperturbed when Samms opened the hive.

“I’ve been stung hundreds of times. This is my eleventh year keeping bees, but it’s only been a problem one time when I got stung twice, in the back of the head there, and I went into anaphylactic (shock). But otherwise, nothing happens, like nothing happens when I get stung,” said Samms.

The farm also has a fowl yard, with many chickens, turkey, and ducks. One hen was sitting on some eggs, and there were plenty of chicks milling around. The eggs from the chicken and ducks are available at the farm stand.

Using several raised garden beds, the small farm is still able to produce an impressive variety of goods. Food items are not only sold at the stand but stock the farmhouse cupboards.

“There’s garlic, leeks, spinach, long blue potatoes, beans, onions, lettuce, peas. And then over here (we) will have carrots, lettuce, beans, peas, mesclun mix, sunflowers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, a whack of fingerling potatoes, and a variety of cut flowers. Kale, brussels sprouts, cilantro, and jersey cabbage,” said Samms.

Inside the greenhouse were shelves laden with a variety of still more, including tomatoes, basil, sage, plants for coloured dyes, and medicinal plants. The plants are not segregated, but are all grown side by side.

“For example, over here there are zucchinis, radishes, and safflower. And in here we have tomatoes, watermelon. And we plant every two weeks, so this is last week’s planting. Ochre, Bok Choy, new lettuce, more spinach, more Swiss chard, cucumbers, tomatillos, sweet pepper, and over here is indigo for blue dye, and chickpeas, just for fun,” said Samms.

At the farm stand itself, displayed alongside a basket of duck eggs, customers can also find the products for the botanical body care line, along with some other interesting products, all made from what is grown or foraged on the farm.

“We do deodorant here, and then we have three different salves for medicinal use or for scent – lip balm, tinctures, finishing salts. We got a lilac sugar as well, but that won’t be ready for a week,” said Samms.

Other locally produced offerings include body butter, nettle tea, fir body oil, soaps, and even roasted coffee beans produced by Granddaddy’s Roastery. Given the support by the community on the opening weekend, the small farm seems likely to grow as fast as its produce.

“We’re excited. We open every weekend now, and what will be available is based on what is coming out of the garden. We should have greens again next week, but it’ll be a while before beans and peas and that stuff, that’s more of an August thing,” noted Samms.

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