What an amazing season it has been at the farm! We wanted to take the opportunity to recap some of the developments and news of the 2017 season, as we look forward to a strong finish and start planning for 2018. Of course this will happen during a much needed hibernation until mid -February.
Family. Truly we are all a bit perplexed at where this year has gone, and in talking with many of our winery and return clients, it seems that we share in the feeling that 2017 went by faster than any year past. Truly, having a little one around speeds things up a bit, and as Ainsley is now 3 years old, I have been so fortunate to share in all the little milestones much closer than many in the culinary industry. Indeed this is the career I chose at a very young age, but as we strategize for next year, I recognize how unbelievable it is that I get to work, farm and live at “home”. Mikkel and I really don’t want for anything, other than a couple extra hours in the day(don’t we all..), but we are thrilled to share that we will be growing our family by 1 more in March, such a wonderful way to kick spring off for sure. We figured we should increase our future farm labour pool before time gets the best of us, and we still have the energy to chase our little ones around..Truly, having Ainsley has brought a whole new insight into what “success” means, and perhaps a bit more incentive to seek balance in life and career, now much more than ever. She has just turned three, and I have started training her in knife skills-never to early to start!
And following suit with the family theme, as a family owned and operated business, we were thrilled to welcome Jack VanDyke, as our second apprentice, has just successfully finished his second year of culinary apprenticeship. To be quite honest, the success of this season would have been an impossibility without his help! Jack joined us at the end of June, after working weekends from April onward; in leu of Kyles’ accident. In addition, Jacks’ parents have provided us with a wealth of organically grown, and beautiful produce through the season. Our “OG” apprentice Kyle has pushed hard through the healing process, and surprised everyone returning in limited capacity by July, a mere 3 months after breaking his femur. He was back to full time by mid august, helping us with the peak season grind of events on and off-site. We are so thrilled his recovery has been so swift, and him and Jack have developed quite a rapport, work really well together, and this typically leads to quite a few laughs in the kitchen daily. Keeping things light during heavy business volumes is quite motivating, and a skill that is difficult to teach…These two allowed us to accomplish providing the most elevated food program, and unexpectedly higher revenues in the history of Backyard Farm.
Our quality service standards were also elevated this season, due to our second season with Mo at the helm of the “keep chef busy and organized” ship. Huge progression this year in our ability to respond to the wealth of inquiries, after working together last year to restructure our booking and administration processes. As our bookings have steadily increased, and tend to come earlier, Mo was instrumental in making sure we had our service needs scheduled, the overwhelming amount of emails answered, and did so with a calmness and great sense of humour! Even my lofty business expectations were exceeded, and Mo took it in stride. Understandably, it was a bit more involved than we anticipated, and Mo has decided to take a step back to enjoy all the reasons why her and her husband moved here from the lower mainland for retirement. Gladly, she will still be involved in some events, and the transition when we find the right fit for her role. As things have progressed, it has turned into a full time position now, and the hope is that we find the right person to continue elevating our offerings. We will have a formal employment posting shortly following this, so keep posted should you be interested in learning more about the opportunity to join our team in this unique management role.
With this swift success, business growth management is a tough one for me to conquer at times. It gets a little harder to say no, especially with 80-90% of our bookings being return guests and clients….The biggest challenge has been acquiring casual and “on-call” service staff members to allow us to continue to offer some of the best service in the hospitality industry. This past season, we had many return service staff, and “limelighters”. As you can see from our end of season photo, we had a great gang of staff who were willing to sacrifice family time, weekends and holidays to work with us. I am so grateful to have such a great group of people to help us represent our food, wine and hospitality philosophies. With professionalism, and a quality minded, genuine approach they all contributed to providing some of the best culinary experiences in the South Okanagan for our clients. We are always keen to update our roster, if you are interested in learning more, or forwarding your contact information, please email:
Our last season has been filled with amazing events with the many winery partners we work with. Already, we have a wealth of bookings, and quite a few events scheduled for the 2018 season. Understandably, it isn’t always easy to wrangle a group together for a private booking at Backyard Farm Chef’s Table, and luckily there are many options available for you to enjoy our food and service in the valley. We have just updated our events page to reflect the dates as they become confirmed. Additionally, available dates for a private culinary demonstration or workshop can be viewed on our Calendar Page. We are very excited to be working with Road 13 Winery for a number of monthly events during the season, as well as Maverick Estate Winery, Culmina Family Estate Winery, Hester Creek for a few culinary demos (to be confirmed), Riverstone Winery, and Blue Mountain(to be confirmed), and Checkmate Artisanal Winery. We also has a few exciting opportunities to work with Area 27, and Avion Motorsports-we are looking forward to contribute to more events this season, and continuing as they develop the facilities and ammenities. Already, 2018 is shaping up to be an amazing season for us, with many opportunities to share our love of food and wine culture in our region!
So as our 5th season begins at Backyard Farm, my inability to sit idle for very long has led to a part time position teaching at Okanagan College for the Culinary Arts Program. I will be substitute teaching on an “On-Call” basis until mid-February, when it becomes a bit too close to the due date for our new little addition. In the interim, I will be busy with all the little projects at the farm, building raised beds, having a little time at Mt. Baldy trying to keep fit during the grip of winter, and preserving the “fruits of our labour” for the retail program. Although these tasks are important, they will only get accomplished after some much needed family time, after such a busy season. The thought that we are about to embark on our 5th season is really quite incredible, as it feels like we just launched yesterday….
We are so excited to see what the future holds for us; our family, business and team-it has been everything and more than we could have imagined! We honestly feel that the opportunity to live our dream has been made possible with the efforts of our intimate team of like-minded, dedicated and passionate people, paired with the support of our clients and partners in business. We hope that 2018 will bring you success, happiness and love. We look forward to our next culinary encounter, and thank you for your support in our endeavours!