2023 ended with an unbelievably busy December, selling 200 boxes of chocolates while hosting a full schedule of bookings at the farm. The time for rest and recovery is upon us, and it feels more necessary than seasons’ past. It is so very humbling to enjoy the company of so many familiar faces, along with many new ones joining us for their first time. We are ready for the rest, in preparation for what is transpiring to be a very busy 10th season of our business. With this in mind, we want to encourage those who wish to join us in 2024 to look at our available dates sooner than later as our peak season dates are filling at an unprecedented rate. Our calendar is current, and as I finalize year end, we will be assessing our pricing reflective of the costs attributed to our quality minded approach to hospitality and thoughtful ingredient sourcing. We will be monitoring our emails during our short hiatus, with our reopening for bookings commencing on March 1st.
I will be trading my chef coat for overalls and pruning gear to get the orchard in shape for the spring, a welcome task offering inspiration for menu development and staying connected to our 2 acre piece of farm paradise. Planning for the farm bounty has already started, with Mikkels’ seed shopping finalizing in the next few weeks. I may also be found at Mt. Baldy here and there getting in some turns, but being sure that I get to enjoy dinner with the family much more often. We always look forward to the winter family catch up time after the season wraps up….Aside from a few private chef gigs at Big White, “staycationing” at the farm is the plan….
As is typical in life, and business for that matter, a few challenges needed to be overcome in 2023. As most are aware, one of the most significant for us was getting ALC and RDOS approval for our continued operations. For the past 2 years we had been in the midst of proving our position as an agritourism business, unlike any in our region. It was expensive, and certainly stressful for us with the prospect of losing what we have worked so hard to develop. We hired help to work through the many hurdles of meetings and applications as we felt that it was important to have the expertise of those who have experience in dealing with the policies in question. To shorten the length of this long and arduous story, it was always our belief that the intention and spirit of these policies and bylaws were being promoted and upheld by our business. In early August, our position within the Agri-tourism market was solidified with approval from both the RDOS and ALC as an Agri-Culinary Catering and Dining facility. It was no small feat, as we had so much support, and so many friends and advisors who kept encouraging us to follow our path, even when it seemed so insurmountable. We are so grateful for the outcome, but more importantly the unbelievable number of people who took the time to write letters on our behalf, which without question had a large role in proving that our business was wanted, needed and appreciated in our region. The list is long, perhaps too long for this post, but those of you who were a part of this are so very appreciated. We chose to keep things quiet in order not to cause unnecessary distraction for the decision makers, knowing that passion and emotions were high, and it could have potentially been cause for our livelihood disappearing. Furthermore, we feel that the bigger picture is recognizing that the policies and bylaws put in place are to protect and preserve agriculture land, the very foundation of our business. The future of our region is dependent on responsible land use, and the policy makers need checks and balances to ensure that agriculture land is respected. In some small part, we hope the bigger picture is that our community can strive for better food security, and provide encouragement to grow more food, and the farmers that chose this lifestyle. Afterall, this is one of the best growing regions in Canada, not to mention that food and wine are best enjoyed together. It wasn’t always easy, but was the right decision for us. Luckily, during the process, we were able to continue providing culinary experiences. Now that we can put this all in our rearview, the excitement of what is store for our future is at an all time high!
So what’s in store for the future you may ask? Most of you are aware that I don’t sit still very well, its true. We finished the outdoor patio structure, and anticipate utilizing it more in 2024. We have recognized through this past season that a few details are necessary to offer the same immersive approach to a culinary experience at the farm. I will be commencing work on the outdoor kitchen. I consider this a priority as a large part of an experience here is the view, smell and action of the kitchen. Additionally, this will allow our culinary team to continue learning and evolving with further diversity in cooking methods. I am hoping that our modest budget will allow for a wood burning oven(perhaps built by me), and wood fire-Argentinian inspired grill. I envision conversation around all the sights and smells, with an emphasis on intuitive cooking techniques. To be straightforward, we will not be expanding our capacity, rather enhancing our culinary services….I will also be building an outdoor service station to enable our service team members to continue offering the elevated hospitality we have become recognized for. Perhaps also more farm tours upon arrival, something that we really enjoy-also enhancing the sense of place here. The real catch for me is that I would love to have a local “hand” in creating my vision with the wood fired grill and oven, as a showpiece-let me know if you have any referrals of someone who may be keen to work with me on this unique project!
And finally, (yes I know I am long winded at times), we will continue on our path of mentorship. The quality of our experiences comes from our team in its entirety. We are seeking a new member or two to join our small brigade for the upcoming season. With business volumes already promising to be the busiest yet, we need some new up and coming talent. We love sharing our knowledge, and also really enjoy welcoming new thoughts, ideas and experiences into our culinary philosophies. Kyle will still be a welcome smiling face, and Kayla will be joining us in the summer, but we would love to add another member or two to our team. Should you be interested in knowing more, send us an email and we can discuss the opportunity further. This position would be open to an apprentice notably, but also to an individual looking to pursue a culinary career and be a part of an encouraging, positive, progressive and creative kitchen environment. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As we all enjoy the start to a new year, may it bring you joy, inspiration and excitement for the opportunities that lay ahead. I have learned many things in my 44 years in this world, the most significant being the value of time. You never get back time, so consider how you spend it, and who you spend it with. Truthfully there will always be a measure of stress, perhaps negativity and things to be fearful of. Take a look at what you personally can control, and try not to waste time on the things you cannot. Life is short! How much time do we have for negativity and anger? Lets all try to focus on treating eachother well, with respect-regardless of a difference of opinion. Align yourselves with those who possess similar ethics, and understand your worth. We look forward to hosting you in the next chapter of Backyard Farm, our 10th anniversary! Thank you for your interest in our efforts, and continued support.
Chris, Mikkel, Ainsley, Baker, Kyle, Jovia, Kyle, Kayla, and our team and family at the farm.