A flour­ish­ing year for Indian Gar­den Farms

South Shore Breaker - - Health& Wellness - LISA J. ERNST edi­tor@southshore­breaker.ca

Colour­ful fall har­vests and fun farm ex­pe­ri­ences flour­ished at Indian Gar­den Farms in

Heb­bville, lo­cated at 15401 High­way 3 in Bridge­wa­ter, this fall season. If you are vis­it­ing the farm, it is a nour­ish­ing feast for the senses and ap­peals to all ages.

De­spite a late spring frost in early June, Glen and Mar­i­lyn

Hebb had an ex­cel­lent straw­berry crop and a suc­cess­ful U-pick season. With their son Matthew’s ir­ri­ga­tion ex­per­tise, there was “no neg­a­tive im­pact on the fruit,”

Glen ex­plained.

The colder spring was fol­lowed by an ex­tremely hot, hu­mid sum­mer, which in­creased ir­ri­ga­tion de­mands; the broc­coli and cauliflower didn’t grow as well. For­tu­nately, many crops sur­vived and thrived — with lots of juicy straw­ber­ries and sweet corn. “Most ev­ery­thing flour­ished … but we had to work a lit­tle harder,” Glen said.

And there was no short­age of work to be done as the fam­ily worked dili­gently to pre­pare for one of the most pop­u­lar times of the year for Indian Gar­den Farm — Open Farm Day.

Indian Gar­den Farms wel­comed about 1,000 vis­i­tors to the farm on Open Farm Day, which was held on Sept. 16. Open Farm Day is an an­nual event that takes place provincewide and al­lows farmers to open up their farms to the pub­lic to ed­u­cate them on agri­cul­ture. The Hebb fam­ily and their ded­i­cated staff team were on hand dur­ing the event to wel­come peo­ple, as­sist with park­ing, co­or­di­nate ac­tiv­i­ties, work the farm mar­ket and en­sure that the day ran smoothly and safely for ev­ery­one. Im­pres­sive hay bale cre­ations; in­clud­ing scare­crows, a trac­tor and a spi­der of­fered many photo op­por­tu­ni­ties. Glen and Mar­i­lyn be­gan prepa­ra­tions in Au­gust, with Glen build­ing the scare­crows and Mar­i­lyn paint­ing the faces.

Glen op­er­ated his pop­u­lar hay wagon rides through­out the day of Open Farm Day, pro­vid­ing an over­view of the farm and crops. He said this is “one of the most tir­ing and re­ward­ing days of the year.” Even the pet­ting zoo an­i­mals; goats, sheep, roost­ers and Tinker­bell ‘Tink’ — the pot-bel­lied pig — were nap­ping by the end of the day. “The pos­i­tive feed­back is over­whelm­ing,” Glen said. Even a lit­tle boy came up to Glen after the wagon ride to say, “Thank you for the hayride, Farmer Glen.”

They also had bus­loads of young chil­dren vis­it­ing from the lo­cal el­e­men­tary schools and day­care cen­tres. The Hebbs were pleased to see the chil­dren en­joy­ing the farm ex­pe­ri­ence and corn maze.

As the leaves changed colour, Matthew’s chal­leng­ing corn maze re­mained a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion this season. Last year, the Hebbs tried a haunted corn maze, which went over so well that they of­fered it again this year. The Hebbs also had their an­nual pump­kin U-pick, of­fered wagon rides and hot cider to com­ple­ment the fall season.

The farm mar­ket was well­stocked, and still is stocked, with fresh pears and ap­ples. By cus­tomer re­quest, they even of­fer a small scale fruit U-pick this season. With about 15 ap­ple va­ri­eties, their top three sell­ers were cort­land, graven­stein and hon­ey­crisp. About 12 years ago, the Hebbs tried grow­ing the hon­ey­crisp as an ex­per­i­ment. The ap­ples grew very well and have since gone on to be­come a cus­tomer favourite.

In ex­is­tence since the 1800s, the Hebb cran­berry marsh is the old­est con­tin­u­ally op­er­ated com­mer­cial cran­berry marsh in Canada. In 1998, the min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture at the time, Ed Lor­raine, pre­sented the Hebb fam­ily with a plaque of recog­ni­tion. This season, the re­cent damp weather and rain slowed down the cran­berry har­vest. Once the weather was good enough to har­vest, the Hebbs har­vested the berries with a self-pro­pelled rak­ing de­vice that con­veys them into 35-pound totes, which are then moved off the field by wheel­bar­row and dumped into boxes hold­ing 6,000 to 8,000 pounds. The berries will have a chance to form colour and be pack­aged fresh for Christ­mas. As with other pro­duce, some are put into cold stor­age for sale through­out the year.

Dur­ing the win­ter months, the Hebbs plan for the spring and be­gin the cy­cle once again of pro­vid­ing top-qual­ity, lo­cal goods to the com­mu­nity. For more in­for­ma­tion on hours or on sea­sonal ac­tiv­i­ties, such as U-picks and wagon rides, con­tact Indian Gar­den farm via Face­book www.face­book.com/in­di­an­gar­den­farms or on their web­site at in­di­an­gar­den­farms.net.

Lisa J. Ernst

This friendly scare­crow made of hay bales greeted many vis­i­tors to the Indian Gar­den Farms corn maze.

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