Local Flavours Farm is located on two acres in Cowichan Bay, and has been run by Judy and Stuart Kuiken since 2008. The Kuikens enjoy farming because they appreciate the challenges it offers as well as the rewards of having homegrown food on the table. They describe their challenges as much the same as other small holdings – staffing, equipment maintenance, and the pressures of working both on the farm and maintaining outside jobs.
According to the Kuikens, the climate is the best thing about farming in the Cowichan region.
“We are originally from Ontario, and the difference in growing season and water consumption is quite large.”
Local Flavours primarily offers garlic, blueberries and raspberries, in addition to seasonal veggies including tomatoes, peppers, greens, and cucumbers. They also prepare and offer a diverse selection of preserves including pickles, relish, salsas, chutneys, jams and jellies, and raise pasture-fed chicken and turkey. They are adding a selection of flower jellies in 2017 including rose hip jelly, nasturtium jelly and lilac jelly. In addition, they will continue to expand their fermented offerings with sauerkraut varieties and various fermented vegetables. Although not certified, they do endeavor to grow all food as organically as possible.
Over the last five years the Kuikens have expanded their farm with the addition of June bearing strawberries, peach and fig trees, as well as a larger ever-bearing raspberry patch, which provides fruit from June to early October. They have also increased the number of blueberry bushes in six different varieties, insuring a steady crop from early June to late September.
As for garlic, Local Flavours have planted seven different varieties of garlic to choose from in 2017. In addition to the Porcelain Garlic and Red Russian garlic varieties grown in 2016 they have added four new varieties of Hardneck Garlic - 2 are of the Porcelain variety and 2 are of the Purple and Marbled Stripe varieties. They also decided to venture into the Softneck Garlic world and have planted Nootka Rose – a good braiding garlic variety.
All products are available at their Country Stand located at 1535 Robson Lane, Cowichan Bay, open Thursday through Sunday. Their phones are also open any day of the week, and calls are welcomed from those who have specific requirements, would like to make a special trip, or want to pre-book. Local Flavours also has a web presence with localflavours.net and are expanding their communication avenues with the addition of a Facebook page and blog.