Tag Archives: community garden

Q&A with Jade

Jade and Devin are our newest soon-to-be residents at Sarilia. With two daughters (Sloan, age 2, and Neve, 5 months old) and a dog named Philly, they’re eager to start their new life in our river valley community this summer—they expect to move into their new A-frame-style home by July. We chatted with Jade to learn more about her family, what drew them to Sarilia, and how it felt to meet some of their future neighbours back in October.

How did you first hear about Sarilia?
We were looking at acreages online and we stumbled across one that was for sale at Sarilia. We drove out there and we realized how beautiful it all was, and how there was all this other property that we could look into.

I got out of my vehicle and stood there, and I was like, “Okay, we are going to be moving here.”

How would you describe your first impression?
We felt like we were at the lake. It felt like we were at the cabin—instantly relaxed and laidback and just where we wanted to be. It felt like home.

Where are you both from originally? And where are you moving from?
I grew up in Martensville and Devin grew up in a little town called Frobisher, just outside Estevan.  We live in Warman right now, so we will be moving from here.

What was it you were looking for that you found at Sarilia?
When I grew up in Martensville, it was a small town. And the community that Devin grew up in has about the same amount of people that Sarilia has. We both wanted that for our daughters.

When we moved to Warman it was a bit smaller. Now, all the sudden, grocery stores are behind our house, Dairy Queen is right there, and the highway is right there—everything was just too close. It was too city-like. We needed to get away.

Right now, we have the street lights shining in our house all night long, the grocery store lights are on 24/7 in our house—we just need to be in the dark for a little bit! (laughs)

Was there one feature at Sarilia that solidified your decision to move?
It was a number of things. We didn’t know about the river access until we met with Gwen. We just thought we’d have a view of the river and we didn’t know everything Sarilia had to offer until we met Gwen.

Our first impression would have been that we just want to be out there for the calmness and the view. Upon talking to Gwen a few days later, we realized the (little free) library, the river and the little nature reserves all around were just kind of bonuses.

Is there something you’re most excited about in regards to your new home?
It’s a little bit of everything. We’re really excited for the small-town community feel, and to feel like we can go and talk to our neighbours. Our girls can go down the street and ask a friend to hang out and we don’t have to be breathing down their necks or watching them all the time to make sure they’re safe.

And the laidback lifestyle. Because you come home from a long day at work and it would just be really nice to go down to the river and have a wiener roast—just feel like you’re at the lake every day.

Can you tell me about the style of your new home?
We’re going with an A-frame. It’s going to feel like a cabin/cottage. We’re trying to go with that mentality—so a stone mantle above the fireplace and the A-frame overlooking the river.

Why did you decide to hire Griffin Properties to build your home?
I’m good friends with Sarah (Reid, the co-owner) so I’ve known them to be extremely hard workers. I’ve seen all the houses that they’ve built for themselves and all the time and energy they put into all the little details to make the house perfect for their family.

I know when Sarah started looking at designs for our family, she was thinking about our family—not what everybody else would have wanted, but what our family needs and wants. Every little detail was thought of. They put a lot of TLC into the project.

What do you and Devin like to do in your spare time?
We like to travel a lot and we like to be outside and go to the lake. We have a cabin up at Chitek Lake with my parents, so we love to be up there all the time.

I like to snowshoe, cross-country ski and snowboard, and Devin likes to snowmobile and downhill ski, so we’re very wintery people. We like to be outside more in the winter than probably in the summer. I run too—anything to be outside really. We’re always up for trying something new.

Do you think you’ll get out on the water at Sarilia?
Oh yeah. Devin wants to buy a canoe. He wants to do that and I like to (stand-up) paddleboard. We’d like to do more of that.

My dad taught me how to fish, so I’d like to do that with the girls and teach them how to do things like that and appreciate nature.

Do you plan to get involved in the community garden?
Yes. I have two garden beds right now so I am definitely going to be doing that.

Even now, I know they’re really young, but we have raspberry bushes and in the summer Sloan likes to go pick them and eat them. That’s kind of what I want to get my girls into—just being more with nature.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We came out to Sarilia for a potluck at the beginning of October and it felt like home. We were like, “We don’t want to drive back to Warman.” (laughs)

It was really nice to meet everybody and we had a really warm welcoming. Everyone was so relaxed and laidback. I don’t know if that’s their personalities always or if being there brings it out of them, but I also felt like it was more of a family—like I could rely on some people to help out if need be and that kind of feeling. It made us more excited and we are very eager to be out there.

 

 

Sarilia lifestyle Q&A with Shayna & Sheldon

Shayna and Sheldon both originally hail from Hudson Bay, Sask. Like many of our residents, they relocated to Sarilia from Saskatoon to rediscover the small-community lifestyle in which they were raised.

They settled into our river valley community last July with their two young daughters: Gemma is four and Daisy is 13-months. Sheldon works in Saskatoon, and Shayna is a stay-at-home mom who runs a part-time daycare from their new home base.

We chatted with them to learn more about their decision to move to Sarilia, and how they envision their family’s lifestyle here—this summer and beyond.

Sarilia residents family photoWhat was it about Sarilia that made you decide to build a home here?
Shayna: The natural landscaping. For close to a year we drove around Saskatoon and looked at several different estate developments and when we drove out here… just the views, like when you come down the road into Sarilia, you can see all the rolling hills and you can see right down to the river. We drove around and Sheldon knew he was in trouble—I fell in love with it.

My heart had made a decision already, but we didn’t make a final decision for a little while. We obviously talked about it and we met with Gwen, but I knew pretty instantly that I wanted to move here and Sheldon knew quickly that he was going to have to figure out if we could do that!

Was there an urge to get out of the city?
Sheldon: We’re both from a small town, so the city was not really for us.
Shayna: We had done the city thing. We both grew up in a tiny town and thought that we wanted the exciting city life and we enjoyed it for a couple of years when we were first married and we didn’t have any kids.

Eventually, we realized it wasn’t quite for us. Especially after Gemma was born, we started feeling that calling to have more space and be more connected to outdoors and have a smaller community feel.

Now that you’ve been here almost a year, how has your lifestyle changed?
Shayna: It’s just a little bit quieter. It’s easier to enjoy the outside time.

In the city, to enjoy nature, to see the river you go down Spadina, or you go for a walk or go to a park, but that was really the only way to get that nice, quiet outside time.

And even then, it’s still busier, whereas here, we just go out onto one of our many decks or go into the yard or walk down by the river. You don’t need to drive anywhere to get that peace, it’s right here. Outside of that, we’re homebody-type people so our lifestyle didn’t change a whole lot.

Where do you work?
Sheldon: I work in Saskatoon.
Shayna: I’m a stay-at-home mom but I do have a part-time daycare. I’ve got a few different families who bring their kids out part-time, so usually three days a week I’m open.

So, you’ve already spent one summer here at Sarilia?
Shayna: We did, but we didn’t. We had a baby the previous May so when we first moved out here she was still quite fresh and delicate so there was still a lot of working around her naps and feedings. We couldn’t go outside for too long, so this summer is going to be kind of a first.

What are your plans for your this summer now that you’ll have more flexibility?
Shayna: Just going for walks down by the river and those basic things—just spending some time outside as a family without having to go anywhere. We don’t have to pack up the kids; we don’t have to pack up all the things and go. We just put on our shoes and our hats and go outside.

As your kids get older, what kinds of activities do you want to do with them at Sarilia?Sarilia resident family photo
Shayna: We’re going to be putting in a garden this year. We both love getting our hands dirty and Gemma’s looking forward to being able to put in a much bigger garden this year.

Last year we missed the opportunity because when people were planting in May, I was 40-weeks pregnant and couldn’t touch the ground! This year we’re excited to put in a larger garden.

When the kids get older we’ve talked about canoeing and other activities, but some of those things right now—the safety and logistics of doing it—we’re not quite there yet. But as they get bigger, being able to explore the river is definitely high up on the list.

What do friends say when they come to visit?
Sheldon: Shayna has a friend from Ireland who just loves it out here because it reminds her of home.
Shayna: Yes, with the rolling hills and everything.

How did you come across Sarilia?
Sheldon: We went to Dalmeny, Delisle and Dundurn…
Shayna: We went every direction outside the city. We visited Warman and Martensville too—some of their development areas…
Sheldon: And I came across Sarilia on Google…
Shayna: In one of our many searches, Sheldon found Sarilia online and on one of our weekend drives of exploring, we came out here and the rest is history as they say!

 

Sarilia lifestyle Q & A with Al & Annette

Al and Annette are two of Sarilia’s longest residents, having moved to the river valley community over seven years ago to experience what Al calls “pre-retirement.” We chatted with them to get a glimpse of what that lifestyle transition looks like.

What made you decide to move from Dalmeny to Sarilia?
Annette: The beauty of the river valley and the new community that was being developed here.

Al: I thought we should try to experience pre-retirement.

What pre-retirement looks like: Al & Annette enjoying a glass of wine and a Sarilia sunset


How does living at Sarilia contrast with city living?
Annette: We really like the socializing and being able to know our neighbours. People look out for one another: they watch out for your property, and do nice things for each other here.

What would both of you say are your favourite aspects of living at Sarilia?
Al: My favourite aspect is just being near the outdoors without having to go far—compared to the city.

Annette: You don’t have to drive anywhere to go to a park—it’s right outside your door. You’re surrounded by nature and wildlife.

Al: The other aspect I like about Sarilia is, some years ago when we were looking at recreational properties elsewhere, prices were starting to skyrocket. We couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on a property at the lake, maintaining that, and maintaining another house. But here, it’s kind of like being at the lake. It’s the same sort of environment but without the expense and the driving and all the rest that comes along with lake property.

Annette snowshoeing at Sarilia

What are your favourite winter activities at Sarilia?
Al: We like to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. When we have decent snow, our neighbour Dale cuts ski trails down to the river.

Annette: There are nice trails down by the river and we hike them a lot. It’s fun to see all the changes that are happening all the time—the change of the colours with the seasons, the migration of the birds.

What are you favourite summer activities?
Annette: Gardening in the summertime is fun. We always see some of our neighbours at the garden—we chat and play music. There’s a nice social aspect to it that I really enjoy.

We also like watching the skyline at night—we can still see a faint light on the horizon in the evening and the stars shine brighter. Al has a telescope and he likes to gaze at the sky—picking out different clusters and planets.

Al: We also try to get out in the canoe a couple of times in the summer.

Annette: Canoeing from Borden Bridge to Sarilia is a lot of fun. It takes 2-3 hours usually—more if you want to sit and have a picnic on the side of the river.

Al enjoying Sarilia on two wheels

Al: I try to get out on my bike. Once you get down in the river valley you can bike the trails that are down around the river easily enough.

Annette: Biking down a country road is kind of fun—there’s not a lot of traffic that you have to worry about.

Can you tell me about curling in Langham?
Annette: Al’s been curling in Langham a little bit longer than I have, but the last couple of years we’ve both been curling.

Al: They’ve got a new rink, and a pretty good club there.

Annette: It’s a really nice facility. Al and I curl there in the mixed league, and when we can, we’ll take in a bonspiel. Even for those who don’t curl, if they like watching curling there’s an opportunity for people just to come and have a beer and watch curling because they have a nice little bar. We’ve enjoyed socializing with people from Langham at the rink.

Blue bird captured by Annette at Sarilia

Blue bird captured by Annette at Sarilia

You both take a lot of beautiful photos around Sarilia. What inspires you?
Annette: It’s just the natural greenery and the colours out here that we really enjoy. Especially in the springtime, the leaves are starting to pop out of the trees and the blue birds are coming back.

Al: Because we’re at the river, you get migratory birds. You see them coming and going all the time. Here we might see a few more unusual birds because there are less people than in the city. In our book, we write down every spring and fall what we see, and I can go look in my book and I can say, “yeah, we saw that last year, and the year before.” It’s almost always within plus or minus a week.

Annette: And there’s a lot of deer around here as well, so we know where they are and what time of day to watch out for them.

Annette’s Sarilia photography

 

Q&A with two of Sarilia’s community gardeners

We love seeing all the signs of spring at Sarilia. The robins are out; the crocuses are blooming, creating beautiful patches of purple; and most importantly, the sunshine is drawing everyone out of their houses. Our residents are revelling in the warm weather with sunset drinks on their patios, walks along the river trails, and even stand-up paddle-boarding.

One of the most popular outdoor spring activities here is gardening, and our community garden seems to gain more green thumbs (from experienced to aspiring) every year. We recently chatted with two of Sarilia’s community gardeners, Kathleen and Dennis, to learn about what they’re planning to grow this year, what they’ll make with their fresh produce, and what they like best about gardening as a community.

How long have you been a gardener, and how long have you gardened in Sarilia’s community garden?

Kathleen: Growing up, I helped on the farm with gardening. It was just part of our job to help. I’ve gardened all my life, on and off, depending on where I was living. When I was living in apartments I wasn’t, but otherwise, if I’ve got a house and a yard, I garden.

I’ve gardened at Sarilia since 2012. I didn’t garden in the community garden last year, but I gardened in my yard. However, I found that I couldn’t grow what I wanted on my patio, so I’m going to go back to the community garden this year.

Dennis: I’ve been gardening since I was a child of about eight years old. I’ve gardened at Sarilia’s community garden for three years.

community garden Sarilia

Kathleen & Gwen in the community garden

What are you planning to grow in Sarilia’s community garden this year?

Kathleen: I’m going to grow all the things I need for salsa. And then potatoes, peas, beans, some squash, some other root vegetables, lettuce and that sort of thing. I’ll also grow some flowers for the bees, and marigolds to keep pests away.

Dennis: Potatoes, beets, carrots, Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, white onions, yellow onions, multiplier onions, dill, Swiss chard, yellow beans, green beans, cabbage, garlic, zucchini and some herbs.

What do you make with the food you grow?

Kathleen: I make salsa every year and the veggies and lettuce I eat fresh. Everything else I freeze. Potatoes and Spanish onions I usually keep in the garage where it’s cool and they last well into the spring. I really like having lots of fresh organic stuff on hand.

Dennis: I eat the fresh produce, can pickles, freeze beets and make salsa.

What’s your favourite thing to grow in the garden?

Kathleen: Probably tomatoes because it doesn’t matter how nice they are in the store; you just can’t get a tomato that tastes like a tomato if you buy it. So that would be probably my most favourite. It actually tastes like a tomato when you grow it.

Dennis: Cucumbers, beets and onions.

What have been the benefits of community gardening for you, versus gardening in your own yard?

Kathleen: Absolutely the social aspect. Getting out to see your friends and neighbours. Getting tips and tricks from people. It’s nice to be up there alone, in the quiet, and it’s also nice to be up there and be able to take a break and have somebody to chat with.

It creates a sense of community and I think that’s important. Anything that you can do in a community to create that sense of community is always a win-win.

Dennis: Joint tilling, friendship and sharing produce. It provides time to share different planting techniques and the outcome of the harvest.

The fruits of Dennis' labour: cucumber

The fruits of Dennis’ labour: cucumber

Red onion

Red onion

Zucchini

Zucchini

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 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

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

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Swing set installation

Sarilia playground

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Playground & sandbox

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Planting trees and putting down roots

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.” At Sarilia, we happen to agree with that, so on the Victoria Day long weekend several of us got together and planted 17 fruit trees near our community garden.

Dieter Martin Greenhouse

Leanne, Gwen, Nancy, Kathleen & Annette at Dieter Martin Greenhouses

We kicked off the day with a visit to Dieter Martin Greenhouse. The owner, Nancy Martin, told us that Sarilia is located in Zone 2b for plant hardiness and advised us on the types of trees that flourish in this particular zone. She also gave us tips on how to plant the trees and what types of soil to use. Together, we selected a variety of apple, cherry and plum trees. Some of them are already bearing fruit, and the rest should bear fruit this summer.

Two of our trees are “combination apple” trees — something we hadn’t heard of before. Essentially, it’s one tree grafted with several different varieties. One of our combination apple trees will grow three varieties and the other will grow six, including Harcourt and Honey Crisp.

planting fruit trees

Al & Kathleen

We brought our trees back to Sarilia, where we had a 150-foot long trench waiting for us. We spent several hours together digging in the dirt  and we were joined by a few more families from the community who were happy to lend a hand. A couple of Sarilia kids planted their first tree and a family who just joined our community came out and planted a tree with their young daughter. Watching them literally put down roots at Sarilia was heart warming and reminds me of another saying: “To plant a tree is to believe in tomorrow.”

planting fruit trees

At the end of the day, we were all caked in dirt. It was on our clothes and in our ears. It was physically exhausting, but incredibly worthwhile. I can already smell the apple crisp baking.

fruit trees

If you happen to live in plant hardiness Zone 2b (Saskatoon, Warman and Martensville are all in this zone) and are interested in what types of fruit trees will thrive in your yard, here’s a list of the trees we planted. They’re all appropriate for Zone 2b climates.

  • Hardi Mac Apple
  • Red Sparkle Apple
  • Romeo Cherry
  • Cupid Cherry
  • Combination Apple (Hardi Mac Apple, Harcourt Apple, Parkland Apple)
  • Red Plum
  • Pembina Plum
  • Honey Crisp Apple with Red lake Currant and Western Sand Cherry
  • Brook Gold Plum
  • Combination Apple (Heyer #12 Apple, Harlston Apple,Parkland Apple, Harcourt Apple, Hardi Mac Apple, Honey Crisp Apple)
  • Crimson Passion Cherry
  • Juliet Cherry
  • Dolgo Crab
  • Rescue Crab
  • Battleford Apple
  • Goodland Apple