What’s In Store: Let’s talk agri-tourism in Langley

Whoever told you farmers are not entrepreneurs have yet to met some of the farmers we’ve grown here in Langley.

There’s a trio of young horticulture students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, for instance, who have created a little veggie patch that’s taking off.

Aptly named The Veggie Patch, the trio has taken over a half-acre of farmland, replenished the soil, planted many a seed, and are now harvesting and selling a plethora of veggies to the public.

Led by Langley’s own Stafford Richter, 29, this little venture began back in March, when they signed the lease on the land at 220th Street and 56th Avenue, which had previously been worked as a veggie plot last year by Pacific West Perennials – on what Richter described as a much smaller scale.

The cost of staff, Richter said, was too high for the company, which then began looking around for someone to lease the space.

“We have nothing but time and energy… I’m really excited about this,” said Richter, who is supported this year by classmates Joseph Ritchie – a fellow Langleyite – and New Westminster’s Alexander Stark.

They’ve set up a “We Pick-You Pick” model of business that is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and gives people a chance to pick their own or just come in and buy pre-picked stock.

“I intend to be back next year,” Richter said, adding that one of the most important parts about being a good farmer is knowing how to grow good soil.

They’ve put in all the hard work getting that soil ready, and now they’re reaping the rewards of those efforts – recently harvesting organically grown broccoli, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini.

“We are applying the science of our studies with the hope of funding our education while living our dreams as local farmers with top-quality, natural-grown veggies,” Richter said.

“The goal of our farm is to satisfy a growing niche market for natural, fresh, accessible, and wholesome food within Langley.”

“We are a human-powered operation, and not a farm machine-powered business; all of the work that has been completed at The Veggie Patch has been done so by our (calloused) hands. We even go out at night to pick off the slugs,” he joked.

The trio is so pleased with the outcome of its efforts, that it’s hosting a farmgate barbecue this Saturday, complete with – you guessed it – veggie burgers and all the fixin’s, juice, and a chance to tour the gardens.

The barbecue runs from noon to 4 p.m., Richter also hoping to have some entertainers on hand for the event.

Driediger Farm turns 50

Now, speaking of agri-tourism, I want to send a shout out to Driediger Farms and congratulate them on their 50th anniversary.

This family-run farm produces and distributes fresh and frozen berries.

They grow strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currants, and blackberries – many of us old-timers remember working for them during the summer months – many decades ago.

“We have been farming in Langley since the early 1960s, when my parents George and June Driediger moved to B.C. from Saskatchewan to run my grandparents’ 10-acre strawberry farm on 56th Avenue,” recounts Rhonda Driediger.

“They eventually bought, then sold that farm, as well as several other acreages in the North Otter district, finally settling in to farm the three parcels that we are on today.”

The farm has seen many changes through the years, and has increased from that original small acreage to the current 160-acre operation.

And now, possibly following the lead of their so-called rivals at Krause Berry Farms – they’ve enhanced their farmgate “fruitstand” just off the Trans-Canada Highway on 72nd Avenue, to sell homemade jams, syrups, gifts, pies, local honey and B.C. grown fresh produce.

And my focus on the agriculture-based businesses in our community doesn’t end there.

Mark your calendar folks, Vista D’oro Farms & Winery, the one out on 208th Street – close to the border – is doing it again.

The vineyard is hosting the third annual Walnut Festival on Saturday, July 19, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Hail to the green walnut.

It’s a day to share a little taste of what they do with wine, ciders, and sangria for sale, alongside a number of walnut-inspired nibbles created by a few of their favourite chefs.

Guests are invited to play under the walnut trees, picnic, and listen to entertainment being offered throughout the afternoon affair.

 

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