Q&A with our new neighbours – Kayla & Chris

Kayla and ChrisKayla and Chris, along with their daughter, Wren, and their English Mastiff, Gus, are some of our newest neighbours at Sarilia. Hailing from southwest Saskatchewan, they met in high school,  were married in 2013, and baby Wren was born last May. We chatted with the busy couple to learn a little bit more about them, and how they’re planning to enjoy spring in the river valley.

What do you both do for a living?
Kayla is a social worker and Chris is a journeyman instrument technician.

How did you first hear about Sarilia?
We Googled “river lots,” and one popped up for sale on Kijiji, so we went for a drive and got the contact information for the developer (Gwen Lepage) while we were out there.

What made you decide to move to Sarilia?
We had talked about getting a cabin and were getting tired of being in the city, so Chris brought up building something on the river to live in full-time and we both felt it would be a great fit for us.

What company did you choose to build your house, and what was the experience like?
We went with D.W. Elash Enterprises, a small company out of Martensville. We had a great experience with our builder. Alanna was very agreeable to work with and she made sure we got what we wanted.

What are you most excited for about spring at Sarilia?
We are looking forward to having our first garden in the community plots!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
There’s not much spare time anymore with a little one running around, but we love to go for walks along the river and are really looking forward to enjoying the beach this summer.

Has moving to Sarilia changed your day-to-day lifestyle at all?
We are definitely more content just being at home and looking out at the amazing views. We never want to go into the city!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
We are looking forward to getting to know our neighbours once everyone is outside a little more with the warmer weather.

Q&A with Zak’s Bryant van Kuik

Zaks RTM sarilia

A Zak’s RTM

Sarilia is home to three ready-to-move (RTM) homes built with care by Zak’s, a family owned business that opened its doors in 1996. We chatted with Bryant van Kuik, residential salesman at the company, to learn about why RTMs work so well in the river valley, and what trends he’s noticed in the home building industry.

What is your role at Zak’s?
I have the pleasure of working with customers to design their home and take it right through to completion.  This includes floor plan design, architectural design, pricing, blueprints, final selections and warranty walk-throughs.

What home building trends are you noticing among your clients?
We continue to see many units going into lake country – some humble cabins and others very elaborate cottages. More and more people are asking about green alternatives – for example, we have a unit currently on site that has solar panels mounted on the roof.

In general, what were the Sarilia residents looking for in their homes?
The owners of the Sarilia units we have built seemed to have a priority on managing costs while maintaining a high build quality.  From there, they certainly all chose/developed plans that took advantage of the fantastic river views that Sarilia affords.

Interior of a Zak's RTM

Interior of a Zak’s RTM

What makes an RTM ideal for people moving to Sarilia’s river valley?
RTMs continue to be a great way for people to build homes that are not in major centres near tradespeople. We are able to manage both build cost and timelines very well since we are on site every day and tradespeople do not have extra travel time/cost.

In general, who are your clients?
Our clients tend to be a mix of age groups and life goals. At times, we are building bigger homes for people with growing families – other times we are building lake homes for people who no longer have kids living at home and require less space.

There seems to be a growing interest in tiny homes (homes between 100-400 square feet without a permanent foundation). Are you seeing some of this interest from people who are looking to build houses with a smaller footprints?
To date, the interest in tiny homes has certainly increased – but we have not seen a lot of units end up getting built. I have had conversations with people of all ages – but most do not have kids.

What we are seeing more of is what I might call a trend toward “small homes.” These customers are typically driven by cost of living and a minimal footprint. So rather than build a tiny home, they will build a smaller/more economical home that has a permanent foundation.

Most of these clients seem to be driven by the cost of living and a desire to have money for travel and other priorities – rather than being maxxed out by a mortgage.

What’s the smallest footprint Zak’s has built so far?
To date, our smallest home was a 640-square foot unit.


Q&A with Georgie – Horses of Sarilia

Two years ago we chatted with Sarilia resident, Georgie, to learn what brought her and her family to Sarilia, and what they were looking forward to in their transition to the river valley. Now that the busy family of five has settled into their new home, we thought we’d check in with Georgie again and see how her family’s five horses-yes, five!-are doing in the community pasture.

Sarilia horsesHow did the horses come into your life?
I have been riding for over 12 years. My husband and daughter joined the journey 1.5 years ago. Quickly, as we live and breathe our horses, we have become a “horse family.”

Tell us about your family’s horses.
Beau Jangles, a Bay Arabian gelding, 15 years old
Beau-Beau gets called a clown—he is very curious and sweet. He acts like he is still a colt and has a special place in my heart as he was my first horse.

Indigo Girl aka Indy, a Tobiano Pintabian mare, 13 years old
She is the boss mare in our herd. She is a respectful mare and that is why our herd is so peaceful and relaxed. The pecking order is established and she is good at keeping the order. She is very sweet and loves to get cuddles anytime.

Dolly, a Sorrel Paint mare, 11 years old
Our daughter Bennett’s horse, Dolls, is super sassy and very agile. She is from the U.S., but has adjusted well to our climate and the mosquitos. She loves her little rider and is pretty happy to just have Bennett as her main partner.

Denali, a Fleabitten Grey Quarter Horse gelding, 9 years old
Den is a one-of-kind horse. He is a smart boy—too smart! He is a loner in the herd and prefers only my mom’s attention when she comes out.

Texarkana, Black Quarter Horse gelding colt, 3 years old
Texy is our colt we are starting this spring. He is quite shy and happy to be left alone. He just needs to build more confidence in life and he will, in turn, be Jared’s new best friend.

Does your whole family care for the horses and ride?
Yes, all (with the exception of our colt Tex) are riding horses. They all have different energy levels. I ride Beau, my Arabian, and Indy, the Pintabian. Bennett rides Dolly and Jared rides all of them. Once Tex gets under saddle that will be Jared’s main mount.

img_2410How have the horses settled into Sarilia’s community pasture?
The horses love the pasture. It really brings them back to their natural roots. They drink from a spring-fed creek, they use the heavy bush and deep valley for protection and graze on the native prairie grasses. The pasture is an excellent size, so our horses can put on the natural mileage that they would if they were feral.

My husband and I are true believers in keeping things simple. With the type of grass the pasture possesses, we were able to leave them on the 120 acres without cross fencing and they have never looked better. Their coats and weight are amazing. They have built muscle traveling up and down the valley to the creek to drink and their feet are in awesome condition. We built a 60-foot round pen and a 103 x 200-foot outdoor arena so we can still school the horses in a controlled environment and the footing is more predictable. The trails and beautiful scenery have been awesome to ride in.

The winter will hold different challenges but we are all for them. My husband is a true outdoorsman born in the wrong era. We have a solar-heated water trough as well as a fire-chamber trough. We have 18 round bales that we will net to control feed once the real snow hits. The horses will still use the bush and we may haul hay into the bush on those cold days with the snowmobiles to keep them out of the wind.

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Q&A with Annette: How does your (community) garden grow?

Sarilia’s community garden is a favourite spot for many residents to socialize, tend to their flowers, veggies and fruits, and learn from one another. We sat down with Sarilia resident, Annette Horvath, to learn what she—and others—grew this year, what flourished, what didn’t, and what she’s learned from her fellow green thumbs.

What did you plant in the community garden this year?
I planted lots of flowers—mostly zinnias—and lots of vegetables too: lots of carrots because they can keep for a long time, peas, potatoes, beans, corn, onions, garlic, the usual.

Garlic and dill in the community garden

Garlic and dill in the community garden

Garlic is always such a nice treat in the garden because it keeps for a long time. It takes a little longer to grow. You plant it the season before (at the end of the season) so it’s always amazing to see what comes out and it’s so much better to have fresh garlic from your garden than buying it from the store. The texture is so creamy and the flavour is so much better.

When you have a vegetable soup from your garden, it’s just amazing how much flavour is in the vegetables—it’s so good. I also planted a whole row of beets. We had a few issues with some chipmunks—they are really fat in our garden because we feed them very well. They stole all my beets! (laughs) Just mine. Other people didn’t have problems with that.

chipmunk in the garden

A well-fed Sarilia chipmunk

Raspberries were a big thing. My raspberries did very well this year because of the rain. It was really nice to have fruit in the garden. Pretty much everything did quite well. Everybody had a good harvest of peas, beans, carrots, onions, beets, and all the things they planted.

One of our neighbours always plants sunflowers and they’re such a nice addition to the garden too. They’re just such a happy flower and they do so well.

sunflowers blooming

Sunflowers in bloom in Sarilia’s community garden

What are some of the benefits of community gardening?
One of the benefits is that a lot of sharing takes place. One of our neighbours had grown an abundant amount of kale. I didn’t know this, but when you pick kale, it grows back. You don’t pick it from the root, so it keeps on giving back, week after week. She had so much more than she could use, and luckily the chipmunks didn’t like the kale, so they stayed away. We tried making so many different things—like salads and kale chips, and I juiced a lot and now I’ve frozen it to use it for smoothies.

We also have some extra room in the garden that nobody has claimed yet, so we grow pumpkins and potatoes, and we share them with our neighbours if there’s extra. And of course zucchini. There’s always more zucchini than we need, but that’s kind of nice.

Have you learned any lessons from your neighbours who you garden alongside?
Always. You’re always learning, because nothing is ever the same. It’s always different from year to year and it’s so interesting to find out what other people are growing that’s working for them.

growing peppersOne of our neighbours plants a lot of garlic, tomatoes, and hot peppers. It’s always interesting to see the different coloured peppers in his garden—from green, orange, yellow, red and even a very dark aubergine colour. I imagine a lot of them are really hot. He’s even grown habaneros (not in our community garden, but at his house). So it’s like a salsa garden where you grow all the ingredients yourself to make an amazing tomato sauce or salsa.

My garden is such a small part of it because it’s such a community effort. I really like wandering through other people’s gardens and enjoying what they’re growing. The sharing of the harvest is always kind of special—when somebody says, “here, I grew this, you gotta try it.” Just seeing what they grow and thinking, “well, I can do that next year.”

Have you planted anything new this year that you’d never tried before?

community garden harvest

Jerusalem artichoke potatoes

We planted Jerusalem artichoke potatoes, which we’ve never had before. It’s like a gourmet potato. They don’t look like a traditional potato plant. They grow into this beautiful, tall flower that looks similar to a sunflower, but they’re small flowers. They grow over six-feet tall. The idea is to harvest the tubers after the frost, so that they’re a little bit easier to digest. It must bring out the sugars in the tuber. We haven’t tried them yet, because we haven’t had very many frosts yet, but we’re going to try them soon. You can roast and cook them like a potato, so we’re looking forward to trying those.

growing zinnias

Zinnias in bloom

I talked one of my neighbours into growing zinnias. She tried out different varieties than I did. They’re very hardy flowers and they’re beautiful. To me, they’re a little bit like a gerber daisy, but they have vibrant colours and come in different varieties. Some are really big, some are like pom-poms, and they flower all summer long—so that’s a really nice flower for the garden. And the bees really are attracted to them.

Do you have any favourite recipes for your garden veggies?
A lot of times, if I’m making a vegetable soup, I make it up as I go. I know some people really like recipes because they get consistency and they make the same thing over and over again, but a lot of the time I just clean up a whole bunch of vegetables, throw them in a pot, and see what comes out! For pumpkin pie I usually find a recipe, and I don’t normally use the same one all the time. I check my old church parish books—I’ve got a lot of of old ones—because those are tried and true.

One of Annette's favourite pumpkin pie recipes

One of Annette’s favourite pumpkin pie recipes

Aerial footage of Sarilia’s river valley community

We’re excited to share Sarilia’s newest video, which features aerial footage of our river valley community. From the beautiful homes, to the community garden, pasture and the picturesque North Saskatchewan River right at our doorstep, it truly is a vibrant village. You’ll notice some homes are nestled within the trees, while others offer sweeping views of the river — either way, Sarilia residents have an idyllic connection with nature. Enjoy!

Sarilia’s new “garden park”

This summer, we added a mini playground next to our community garden. Its creation was a group effort by Sarilia residents and our  families. I am very grateful to see so many people come together and offer their time and talent to improve our community.

In the past, the kids at Sarilia had to go to Langham if they wanted to visit a playground. Now, they can visit one just steps from home. Its proximity to the community garden means that parents can garden while their children play nearby.  And it turns out the kids aren’t calling it a playground—they ask their parents: “Can we go to the garden park?”

Whenever I go to do some gardening, I check out the playground and love seeing all the tiny footprints in the sand.  It makes me super happy that we’ve built something together as a community that puts smiles on our kids’ faces.  It was time well spent and thank you again to everyone who helped out.

— Gwen

Sarilia playground

Construction day

Sarilia playground


Swing set installation

Sarilia playground

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Playground & sandbox


Meet Sarilia’s new sales agent – Ed Machart

Ed Machart - SariliaCoach. Home sales rep. Bison farmer. Ed Machart has worn many hats throughout his career, and his latest role brings him to Sarilia Country Estates. With 10 years as a Realtor under his belt, he brings his focused, former-farm-kid work ethic to his new role as Sarilia’s sales agent. Together with his partner, Marty Edwards, this talented team from Century 21 E&M Real Estate are looking forward to meeting interested property buyers and sharing with them all the perks of river valley living.

By way of introduction to Ed, we’re sharing this Q&A with him.

Where are you from?
I grew up on a farm just outside a town called Harris, 45 minutes outside Saskatoon (from kindergarten to grade 12). I was a farm boy. From there I went to Rosetown. Rosetown was my second hometown, so to speak. I had family and friends there so I went and worked there for about a year, and then I moved to Saskatoon.

Can you tell us about your family?
I have two sons—21 and 19. Both play football. Throughout everything I’ve coached ball, I’ve coached hockey. They both went on play junior football. My oldest played in Calgary for two years, with the Colts, and then my youngest is on the Hilltops, but also Team Canada. They just won the gold medal in Harbin, China at the under-19 world championships. (Ed and his wife travelled to China to attend the championships).

My wife and I love to go to Mexico—to Huatulco and Ixtapa on the west coast. We go a couple of times of year. It’s beautiful. We love walking, we love swimming, but most of all, we just sort of hang out. It’s more of a mental and physical resting time. We’ve rented scooters and gone on a few excursions. Most of all we love the beach.

What other jobs have you held?
I worked in sales for Yanke Transfer and as a home sales rep with Northridge Developments in Saskatoon. I also worked at Pepsi-Cola in Grande Prairie in sales and as head of new business development. My roles have always had a strong focus on sales and marketing.

I also had a bison ranch in Harris while I worked full-time for Northridge. I managed it with my little brother. We had 75 bison. We’ve since sold the business.

Why did you decide to get into real estate?
I wanted more for my family. I’m a hard worker and I wanted to work for myself. Growing up on a farm, I think there was always that, “go out and do it yourself” mentality.

I had tried different ventures, and real estate was something many people told me I’d be great at. And finally, it got to a point where I thought, “you know what, I’m going to do this.” And it paid off, but that’s my farm-kid work ethic—it really works well.

What are your hobbies?
Mostly driving around and looking at real estate. My wife and I go for drives in the country. We like driving the back roads and getting out of the city. We like driving by farms and acreages—that’s how we first saw Sarilia many years ago. I had heard of it through real estate, and then we were out for a drive one day and I said, “Oh, here it is. Let’s go take a look at this,”—and we loved it.

What was your first impression of Sarilia?
When I drove through it, I just loved it. I thought it was great because I’m not a golfer and it seems that everywhere you go they have these big, beautiful mansions and they’re surrounded by golf courses and surrounded by people. That’s not nature. Out at Sarilia, when you drive up, instantly you see the river and it’s unspoiled. It’s just more natural, quieter, and more peaceful and I think it’s captivating.

What type of person is best suited for Sarilia’s lifestyle?
I think it’s the type of person who enjoys nature and enjoys the landscape somewhat undisturbed. It’s out of the hustle and bustle. It’s all about quiet. If you want to hear birds sing, you want to watch the sunset, and get out of the hustle and bustle of the city.

My wife and I are the type of people who, when we get busy, we say, “OK, let’s go to the lake,” or, “let’s go for a drive” and the second you’re out of the city limits, your energy just picks up. And that’s how I feel every time I go to Sarilia. As soon as I pull in, it’s like my energy just changes. It becomes more positive and lighter and life just…everything seems better. The grass is greener, birds are chirping, all of that, it’s hard to articulate that, but that’s the type of person who should live there. It’s energizing.

New “Neigh”bours at Sarilia

We’re thrilled to share Sarilia’s latest additions to the community pasture, Dolly and Indy. Dolly, (below) is a Sorrel Paint horse, and Indy (foreground of second photo) is a tobiano Pintabian. They’ve settled in nicely and seem to have made fast friends with the cattle.

Dolly and Indy’s owners are currently building a new home at Sarilia. The busy family of five recently took their four-legged, furry companions out for a trail ride in our river valley, and shared a few of their lovely photos with us.

Happy trails indeed!


Sarilia horses




Whether or not you have your own four-legged family members, Sarilia might just be the perfect place for you to call home. Check out our house plans to see how you can make your home at Sarilia for less than $355,000!


The benefits of community gardening

Gladiolas, dill, dahlias, poppies, squash, sunflowers, strawberries, lilies, lettuce, onions, cilantro and tomatoes…those are just a few of the flowers, veggies, fruits and herbs that grow in Sarilia’s community garden. Alongside the garden we have a row of 17 fruit trees, with crabapples, cherries, apples and plums that are already in full blossom.

community garden

Many of our residents have deck gardens they tend to, but they still care for their own plot in our community garden. And that’s great to see, because there are a lot of benefits to gardening in a communal setting. Here are just a few….

Building community
One of the biggest benefits is right in the name—our community garden builds community spirit at Sarilia. It also creates a sense of ownership and stewardship. It offers opportunities for new residents to meet their neighbours and for friendships to flourish. People with different backgrounds get a chance to bond over a shared passion.

IMG_7467final webLearning from each other
That interaction with neighbours also helps our gardeners learn from one another. Planting, maintenance and harvesting tips are shared, and recipes are exchanged. Some of our residents are masters at canning and are happy to help share insights about making the fruits of our labours last all year long.

We are also hoping to get the kids at Sarilia involved. We’re planning to install a play structure alongside the garden so kids can play while their parents garden. Teaching kids how to garden can create a sense of wonder about nature, and help them learn where their food comes from.

Healthy people, healthy environment
Studies have shown that community gardeners and their families have healthier diets than non-gardening families. They’ve also shown that exposure to green space reduces stress and bolsters a sense of wellness and belonging.

They’re also good for the environment. Community gardens help restore oxygen to the air and reduce air pollution. They filter rainwater, helping to keep lakes, rivers and groundwater clean—an ideal perk considering our river valley location!

community garden

Accessible to everyone
With rising food prices, there’s never been a better time to test out your green thumb. Community gardens provide an inexpensive, accessible opportunity for people to connect with nature and grow their own food.

Sarilia community garden

Meet the neighbours: Q&A with Dessa & Jordan

Since settling into their new home at Sarilia last July, Dessa and Jordan have happily embraced their new river valley lifestyle. In January, they became a family of four with the arrival of a baby boy. We chatted with the couple to learn about their transition to life at Sarilia, and what they’re looking forward to doing as the snow melts and spring arrives.

Sarilia neighbours

How did you first learn about Sarilia?
Dessa: We found Sarilia online. I was just googling “properties for sale” and “Saskatoon,” and it showed up. We looked it up to see where it was and we came out on our own and drove around. And then once we saw it, we called Gwen.

What was your first impression of the area?
Dessa: That it was nice and quiet, it had beautiful views and it’s right by the river. We liked that it was a small community because we wanted to be out of the city.

What kind of home did you build? What was the building process like?
Jordan: It’s a 1.5 storey RTM from Zak’s. Dessa picked all the colours and I did the plumbing and heating install because I’m a partner in a plumbing and heating company.

Did you enjoy the building process?
J: It was good. Sometimes you hear horror stories but Zak’s was really good to work with and I have recommended them to other people. They were really helpful and easy to work with.

Have you met any of your new neighbours yet?
D: We’ve met a few neighbours through some functions Gwen has organized. We find when we go for walks with our family we usually meet our neighbours walking their dogs.

Have you found that moving to Sarilia has changed your lifestyle at all?
D: We spend more time outside now — we like going down to the river. Our older son really likes to play down there and the dog plays in the water. We like to be down by the beach.

What do friends and family say about your new community?
J: They’re really impressed and they really like the scenery. They can’t believe the river is right behind us. They notice the quiet and the slower pace. We’re used to the busy city life, so it’s kind of nice being on a quiet street.

With the warmer weather on its way, what are you looking forward to at Sarilia?
D: We’re looking forward to utilizing the river more; we would like to get a canoe.

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