Last week, I had the pleasure to meet Jane, the creator and owner of Wildflowers Tea, in a beautiful rural setting where she lives with her husband and 3 kids. You can read about her story, and how she got into herbalism and organic here.
This was my first ‘official’ meeting/interview, in a new series called Farm to Table, to bring you closer to small organic farmers, and to be quite honest, I wanted the process to be natural (no surprise there) and I didn’t really have any specific questions planned other than listening and asking questions as I go. Maybe that’s not the right way of doing this, but I quite enjoyed it.
We’ve walked through most of her wonderful 9-acre property, looking at all the various medicinal plants and flowers growing there (I wouldn’t be able to remember all their names, although some were familiar and some I even use regularly), that she uses in part to make her delicious tea creations (I got to taste one at the end of the visit. I asked her 3-year-old daughter — who had reluctantly followed us the whole time — what kind of tea we were about to drink and she replied: “pink”. Isn’t that all I needed to know after all? 😉 haha. I believe it was the Pitta blend, a cooling tea, perfect for the summer).
There is a large patch of wildflowers and some garden beds where they grow a few cultivated plants. They have medicinal herbs like Echinacea, Calendula, Lavender, Thyme, Boneset, Marshmallow, and Chamomile, to name a few.
But they also have a new venture that started this year, as Jane explains:
“This summer, we planted over 1,000 perennials, not only for their beauty and for the bees, but as another venture to add to the farm. Wildflowers in Bloom is a sustainable way to enjoy cut flowers in your home, free of chemicals, with a mix of wildflowers and perennials. We sell these bunches at Farmers’ Markets and soon from our farm house directly. We have made bunches for a few events this summer, from bridal showers to 80th birthdays, we were happy to beautify these events with our local flowers.”
This is great news for people in the area, because commercial fresh cut flowers usually contain so much pesticides and various chemicals; now there are options, like these flowers offered by the Wildflowers Farm.
Lucky for them, this property was previously owned by a landscape artist who planted tons of trees all around his land, as well as within, designed easy-to-maintain large garden beds with various perennials, all providing such a lovely place to sit, breathe and enjoy the fresh air and peaceful feeling. Jane has mentioned that she plans on having outdoor yoga classes there (too bad I don’t live closer!). Having done outdoor yoga classes myself in a park, under large mature trees, I know these classes would be simply amazing!
On top of having many, many flowers, there are also some chickens. Some are egg-laying hens (you can buy farm fresh free-range eggs directly at the farm) and some are meat chickens. I also met the rooster of the clan, always very proud on his feet, showing his colours and singing. I gotta say, I am very jealous of the egg-laying hens. I wish I could have some in my own backyard, however I cannot, because a) my backyard is the size of a postage stamp, and b) my city doesn’t allow them legally (yet). I honestly have a hard time believing that they still haven’t changed that law yet. So many cities in Canada, the U.S. and most other countries allow for it. Oh well, hopefully soon…
Another highlight from the visit was to discover a line of about 10 beautiful white beehives in the back of the property, with happy bees doing their thing, buzzing around. Throughout the walk around the gardens, I noticed bees and bumblebees going from one flower to the next, their legs covered in pollen. I could not help but to think of how lucky these little guys were, to have such a nice organic, pesticide-free environment to live happily in. It really made me happy to see this.
Jane mentioned that her husband is the beekeeper in charge, and that they now have enough of a honey production to be able to sell their wildflower unpasteurized honey to local markets. Unfortunately she was out that day so I didn’t get a chance to buy a jar, but I definitely will later! Something that she mentioned is that her husband, while learning about beekeeping, has chosen to keep things natural and will not be taking all of the bees’ honey, so that they have a reserve to eat in the winter, instead of giving them the ‘conventional’ food: sugar. That’s right, you read that right. Sugar. White, processed, sugar. I haven’t mentioned it in my articles yet, but most commercial bees are given a white sugar solution to eat during the cold months, since all of their honey was taken away from them. Does that not sound disgusting? I was talking about that with my sister on the phone the other day and she said “It’s like someone preparing delicious healthy organic foods to sell to others, and going home to eat junk food”. What a perfect way of describing it (my sister is pretty smart)!
That would be yet another reason to buy local and organic, to go visit your local organic farmers and talk to them, see how they grow their foods, how they treat their animals and even how they manage their beehives. It’s important to create an open conversation with our food producers. Now having been there myself and knowing this about Wildflowers Tea’s honey makes me want to eat it even more, because I know that the bees are not only foraging on pesticide-free flowers but that they are also living a natural life, the way they are supposed to.
So back to the visit of the gardens… If you’d like to go for a visit (make an afternoon out of it), go for a nice relaxing drive in the country, and stay for a while. Wildflowers Tea will soon have a beautiful little boutique right on the property (the renovations are almost finished — which they tried to do in an eco-conscious way by reusing salvaged wood and materials), where you will be able to purchase all of their products, herbal teas, honey and fresh cut flowers, as well as some goodies from local artisans. Jane is hoping to open the boutique sometime in September. The cozy space will also serve as a spot to hold workshops and yoga classes, as well as be available to rent for special events.
Jane also talks enthusiastically about the first event that they held at the Wildflowers Farm this year:
“The Summer Solstice Celebration was the first event ever held on our farm with live bands, drumming, vendors, and food, where lots of people came out to enjoy an evening on the farm to celebrate the first day of summer. This was such a success that we plan on making this event an annual thing.”
I am looking forward to hear more from Wildflowers Tea!
Their products are available to purchase in the Southwestern Ontario area through some local organic food delivery like On the Move Organics, as well as in organic cafés and shops like at The Root Cellar Organic Café, Organic Works Bakery, or The Arva MillHouse. You can also find Jane most Saturdays at the Horton Farmers’ Market in St Thomas, or you can order from them directly through their online shop. Find out more information about the farm and their events on their Facebook page or through their newsletter on the website.