Tag Archives: Neighbours

What kind of winter activities does Sarilia offer?

We’re often asked about what kinds of winter activities our residents partake in here at Sarilia. In fact, that’s one of the most appealing things about living here in the river valley–nature is right on our doorstep. We don’t have to get in the car and drive somewhere else to experience it.

Here are a few things we like to do when Sarilia is blanketed in snow: cross-country ski, snow shoe, walk on our nature trails, ice fish, and warm up with friends around a bonfire by the river.  As they say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothes.”

And the kids here love to head for the hills to toboggan. We asked a few of them (Gwen’s grandkids) what their favourite winter activity is. Here are their answers.

Jackson (age 11): Having fun with the people in my life that I care about the most.

sledding at Sarilia

 

Bentley (age 5): I love doing canon balls down the hill, being outside, playing with my cousins and racing up and down the hill!

 

Hannah (age 11, white toque): Just being with my cousins makes me HAPPY!

 

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’s Little Free Library

Sarilia is home to a lot of book lovers, so what could be better than building a Little Free Library (LFL) for our residents to share their love of reading?

This summer, a group of residents got together to create one of these “take a book, share a book” exchanges right here in our community. Our library is now registered on LittleFreeLibrary.org.

Kayla and her daughter Wren are two resident bookworms who love Sarilia’s LFL. We chatted with Kayla to get her thoughts on this new community building project.

What do you think about the new Little Free Library at Sarilia?
I think it’s a great addition to our community. Literacy is so important for everyone and it’s in a great area to just stop and grab something while out for a walk.

What was your daughter Wren’s response to it?
She loves the little library. Wren gets super excited when we go down to see what’s new.

Do you do a lot of reading at home with your daughter?
We are constantly reading, I’m a bit of a book worm and she’s definitely picked up that trait!

 

The Cherry Orchard Next Door

It’s cherry season in Saskatchewan and here at Sarilia we’re fortunate to live right next door to a u-pick cherry orchard. Owners Ed Bueckert and Anna Rehan planted the first trees, a variety called Carmine Jewel, in 2000. A few years later they added new varieties, including Cupids and Juliettes. “It took about six years before they started producing to a point where it was a commercial operation,” says Ed. In addition to the u-pick, Ed sells their cherries to local wineries, restaurants and to food services at the University of Saskatchewan.

We chatted with him to glean a little more insight into the delicious cherries he grows right here in the prairies.

What time of year are the cherries ready to pick?
Usually the beginning of August.

What are some of the beneficial properties of sour cherries?
You hear about antioxidants and their benefits, and cherries are really high in antioxidants. They’re also rich in melatonin, which helps you sleep. And there’s research being done about athletes using cherry juice and to speed up muscle generation, but that’s in a research stage.

What kind of volumes do you grow each year?
It varies quite a bit. Right now, I’m in the process of rejuvenating my orchard. Some of these trees are 18 years old and they’re getting too tall and the stems are getting too big. So, what I’ll be doing every year, is cutting down a row of cherries, and they come back really quickly—they regrow from the roots and so, my production right now isn’t as big as it was at one time, but I’ve produced as much as 6,000 lbs. a year. It’s less than that now because not all of my rows are in production. It takes about three years for them to come back into producing after I’ve cut them down.

What other varieties perform well in our climate?
The University of Saskatchewan initially came out with Carmine Jewel. And then some years later, they came out with five varieties they call the Romance Series of cherries. In that series, there’s the Cupid and Juliettes. But there’s also Romeo, Valentine and Crimson Passion.

Do you grow anything else?
We grow apples, raspberries, strawberries, haskaps, but not commercially, that’s for our own benefit. I have 30 bushes of haskap, but the cedar waxwings are just tenacious. If you don’t net them, and net them really carefully, if there’s any little hole, they’re in there. They will clean them off—they’ll eat them till they’re all gone.

Do you have a favourite recipe for your cherries?
We make a sort of pie filling, but we use it for a variety of things. Like as a dessert topping, an ice cream topping or on cheesecake and that sort of thing. It can also be used in pies. You just add a little bit of thickener to it, like modified corn starch and a little bit of sugar and that’s it. It’s a pretty simple recipe and then it can be used for a variety of things. And we can some of that so we have it around for serving dessert.

We also dry a lot of cherries. They’re really good in salads and I use them every morning in my cereal.

How long is the cherry season on your orchard?
We probably have cherries all of August. The Carmine Jewel are the first ones that come, so we pick those first, and then the Juliettes. The Cupids probably aren’t ready to be picked until the middle of August. They will last just about to the end of August.

The Cupids are more for fresh eating, they’re the biggest cherry that we have, and probably the sweetest. They don’t pit very well because their pit is shaped differently. So, we use those more as a fresh eating cherry, and they taste pretty good. They’re sweeter and they look nicer. But for processing I still think the Carmine Jewel are probably the best. Their flavor is really intense, although they’re quite sour—but for processing, that works in their favour.

*Unfortunately many cherry growers in Saskatchewan, including Ed and Anna, have had problems producing cherries this year, likely due to winter conditions. Their u-pick is not open this season, but they are still selling pitted and frozen cherries. 

 

 

Sarilia lifestyle Q&A with Matt

Matt and Amber moved to Sarilia three years ago, with their two adorable beagles, Tucker and Peaches (who’ve been featured in a previous blog post). Their family has since expanded with the birth of their daughter, Summer Belle, four months ago. We chatted with them when they originally moved here, and decided to follow up with Matt recently to see what their life looks like, after three years of river valley living.

Was there anything that surprised you about life at Sarilia?
My dad has lived here for 10 years so I had a pretty good feel for it.

What are the main lifestyle differences when it comes to living at Sarilia versus living in the city?
The exposure to our river valley ecosystem, bird watching, deer herds and the cows!

We love the tranquility and being a step removed from the city. The stars and moon are brighter.

What kinds of activities do you like to do at Sarilia?
Walking the trails, fishing and biking the grid roads.

How would you describe your social lives at Sarilia?
We have some great friendships at Sarilia and we look forward to meeting new neighbours as we continue to grow.

Can you describe your perfect weekend at Sarilia? What would you do?
It depends on the season or mood. Relaxing by the fireplace is perfect on a snowy, frigid day. Anything outdoors makes me happy in the summer months—even just putzing around the yard.

Gwen tells me you and Amber have a new baby. Congrats! What do you think it will be like to watch Summer grow up at Sarilia?
We’ve purchased the lot next door to us so it’ll be awesome to have even more room for her to run around. I hope living at Sarilia instills an appreciation for nature.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It takes a certain kind of person to live in the country. It’s a decision that’s proving to more rewarding as time passes.

 

 

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 Tessa

Tessa and Brad moved into their new home at Sarilia this past December. They have a nearly two-year-old son named Lukas, and a baby on the way in the coming weeks. Tessa grew up in a small town, while Brad grew up on a farm. They made the move from Saskatoon to our river valley community because they wanted their kids to grow up like they had—connected with nature in a smaller, close-knit community.

We recently chatted with Tessa to glean what kind of lifestyle they’ve found at Sarilia, and what they’re most looking forward to doing during their first summer here.

River valley property outside Saskatoon

What made Sarilia stand out among the other developments and acreages outside Saskatoon?
The river. That’s probably our top reason—being close to water and being able to walk down to the river. Also, many the lots here have a lot more trees than other acreage areas. It’s also close to a town—in some areas you’d still be driving your kids into the city, say for school or for sports or that type of thing, but Sarilia is so close to Langham that it’s not necessary.

How did you originally hear about Sarilia?
We Googled “acreages” and “estate areas” and looked at everything.

My husband grew up on a farm so he didn’t want the huge acreage life. We wanted to be out of the city and to be rural, but our careers are in Saskatoon so it had to be close. We looked all around at different developments and we loved the fact that Sarilia was by the river.

What are you most excited about for your first summer at Sarilia?
Just being outside and enjoying nature and having a view from our deck. To be able to explore the area, plant a garden and have a baby!

What do you hope your children’s lives will be like at Sarilia?
More of that small-town kind of community. You know, knowing your kids’ friends’ parents and a more rural upbringing. Brad and I never grew up in the city so we knew that was something we didn’t really want for our kids. We wanted what we had growing up, and it’s basically the simple life. It’s being more connected to nature and growing up in a smaller community.

Are there any activities you’d like to do out here?
We love canoeing, so we can’t wait to get a canoe. We usually do canoe trips once a year—overnight canoe trips on the river. We can’t wait to eventually take our kids canoeing or maybe kayaking when they’re older. We’re looking forward to having bonfires.

We have snow shoes for the winter and that kind of stuff. Brad just told me they have ski trails out here, which I never knew about either.

How has your lifestyle changed since moving out here?
It’s a way slower pace. Out here you know your neighbours and it’s just more calming, more at ease. When people come to visit they say the exact same thing. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, this place exists? In Saskatchewan?”

Brad had some friends over recently and our windows were open and one of his friends said, “You can just feel the air off the water.” It’s like when you’re in the mountains breathing the fresh mountain air. This is like that. It’s calming and peaceful.

What else to friends and family say when they come visit you?
My friend came out here and said the view was just unreal, even from inside our house. Pretty much everybody says the view is just amazing from our house—from sitting in our living room, in our kitchen, or on our patio. We have a wraparound deck and everybody says the view is just spectacular.

How would you describe the perfect weekend at Sarilia?
It would probably just involve hanging out with my family, having a bonfire and a picnic down by the river, hiking down the nature trails and relaxing in our backyard or on our deck. Pretty much that’s what we will do this summer. We came out here a lot when we owned the lot. We’d pack a picnic and go down to the river.

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

 

The cows come home to Sarilia

Michael Pollan, a food writer and journalist, only eats meat about once a week. When he does eat it, he’s careful to purchase it from farmers who raise their animals humanely. “But it’s delicious, it’s nutritious and I think there is a place for farms where animals get to live a good life and, as the farmers like to say, have one bad day,” he says.

Sarilia is home to several cows. They graze freely among 120 acres of natural grasslands and drink from a natural spring. Overall, they have a great life, and when the time comes, they too have just “one bad day.”

The cows are co-owned between three Sarilia residents: Jordan, Joe and Gwen. We recently chatted with Jordan, to learn what it’s like to raise cattle in our river valley community.

How did you get involved in cattle raising?Sarilia cows

I was born and raised on a cattle/grain farm. I’ve always enjoyed the cow side of farming so it was kind of nice to have a little bit of agriculture at Sarilia.

How would you describe the pasture to someone who hasn’t seen it?

It’s really quite pretty down in the coulees and the natural spring that runs through. It’s really a great place for a picnic actually. It’s just peaceful. I take my boys out and they feed the cows. It’s just kind of nice. There’s no cell service so it’s quiet.

What kinds of cows have you been raising at Sarilia?

This year we had four black heifers and two black angus cows, one speckled park cross cow and one Charolais cross cow. We also had a bull, temporarily, that we borrowed from a friend.

How old are your boys and what do they feed the cows?

Jaxon is five and Nash is one. We take oats to them once and awhile. They like to do that. I wish they were a little more scared of the cows (laughs), but they like it.

IMG_0640What do the cows eat?

It’s just natural grasses, and a block of salt for them. I give them oats probably once every two weeks. Just to get them used to (people) coming up and keeping them calm.

Do you name the cows?

Jaxon likes to name them. The black and white cow (the speckled park) he calls “Chocolate Chip.” We actually had three calves out there this year so he called one calf “Joey” and the other one “Georgie.” We wanted to name it George, but it’s a girl so we named it Georgie. Gwen named our red cow “Emily.”

What is it like to co-own the cows with two other Sarilia residents?

IMG_0837It’s a lot of fun. We’re all partners. It works out really well. That way, if something happens to one animal, someone’s not out a whole animal, we’re all out a little bit. But that hasn’t happened. I’ve gotten to know Joe and Gwen really well through it.

What do you end up doing with the meat?

We make roasts, steak, ground beef and sausage. Joe likes liver so he takes the liver.

What have been the benefits of raising the cows here?

It’s good camaraderie with your neighbours. It’s good bonding with my boys, to take them out. It’s fun to watch the cows grow and how they really get used to you and learn to trust you. I really enjoyed checking on them in the summer and taking them oats. Just kind of watching their progress.

It’s probably nice to know where your food is coming from.IMG_0745

Exactly. And we know they range free all summer and they’re grass fed, so the meat is pretty lean. It’s nice to have control over your food.

What are your plans for next year?

We’re going to do a few fundraiser cows, with all the proceeds going back into Sarilia—whether it’s boardwalks or building warm up shacks for ice rinks down on the river.

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