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A Visit With: Agua Dulce Farm

FOOD TO STIMULATE THE SENSES


A short drive from the Sayward Road turnoff on the Pat Bay Highway, past the always busy Petro-Canada gas station, the road gives way to vineyards, peeks of Elk Lake, and flower stands. There, on Brookhaven Road, you’ll find Agua Dulce Farm, with its stately wooden hut selling jams, herbs, and alpaca fibre gloves and hats. Once an abandoned horse farm, Mary Garden (what a name!) and her husband Mike Anthony have since turned the 2.2 acres into a buzzing landscape that produces vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers, and is home to a menagerie of animals (3 cats, 3 dogs, 20 chickens, 3 Nigerian Dwarf goats, 5 alpacas; all rescued).

"THE HERBS HAVE TOLD US THEY LOVE IT HERE"

I meet Mary here on a brisk Monday morning, where she begins the farm tour at the small hillside covered with Japanese Fuki plants, grown for their celery-like stalks. "Our goal is to engage all five senses … so that you truly feel engaged,” she says. The farm itself feels like an extension of this sensory experience, between the birds chirping overhead and the slight barnyard smell and the visual feast of small mixed gardens, fruit trees budding, and sea buckthorn creeping along the fence. The farm is influenced by Mary’s permaculture training and inspired in part by her Norwegian mother, who always found a way to garden in whatever house they lived in, growing fruits and vegetables mixed with flowers.


Everything here feels connected: alpaca droppings and leg and neck hair fibre are added as fertilizer and mulch in the garlic beds; chives in the food forest do double duty as natural insect repellent around fruit trees, and oregano flowers are especially attractive to bees. It's also a process of listening to what the land has told them, Mary says, and "The herbs have told us they love it here." It appears that they do, with sprawling beds of lavender and enormous purple sage plants. Mary's herbs have become a specialty (you may have seen her lovely bunches of twine-tied rosemary or chives for sale), as well as unique products like sea kale (the flowers smell and taste like vanilla) and horseradish. Make sure to try something new this spring to get a true taste of the sensory experience itself.


AGUA DULCE PRODUCTS

@ THE FARMHUB INCLUDE:

  • Herbs - Fresh & Dried

  • Alpaca Dryer Balls

  • Edible Flowers

  • Sea Kale

  • Berries & Apples

  • Salad Mix & Arugula

  • Tea



Agua dulce Farm, Farmstand @ 480 Brookhaven Rd, Saanich. Facebook

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