Colourful fall harvests and fun farm experiences flourished at Indian Garden Farms in Hebbville, located at 15401 Highway 3 in Bridgewater, this fall season. If you are visiting the farm, it is a nourishing feast for the senses and appeals to all ages.
Despite a late spring frost in early June, Glen and Marilyn Hebb had an excellent strawberry crop and a successful U-pick season. With their son Matthew’s irrigation expertise, there was “no negative impact on the fruit,” Glen explained.
The colder spring was followed by an extremely hot, humid summer, which increased irrigation demands; the broccoli and cauliflower didn’t grow as well. Fortunately, many crops survived and thrived — with lots of juicy strawberries and sweet corn. “Most everything flourished … but we had to work a little harder,” Glen said.
And there was no shortage of work to be done as the family worked diligently to prepare for one of the most popular times of the year for Indian Garden Farm — Open Farm Day.
Indian Garden Farms welcomed about 1,000 visitors to the farm on Open Farm Day, which was held on Sept. 16. Open Farm Day is an annual event that takes place provincewide and allows farmers to open up their farms to the public to educate them on agriculture. The Hebb family and their dedicated staff team were on hand during the event to welcome people, assist with parking, co-ordinate activities, work the farm market and ensure that the day ran smoothly and safely for everyone. Impressive hay bale creations; including scarecrows, a tractor and a spider offered many photo opportunities. Glen and Marilyn began preparations in August, with Glen building the scarecrows and Marilyn painting the faces.
Glen operated his popular hay wagon rides throughout the day of Open Farm Day, providing an overview of the farm and crops. He said this is “one of the most tiring and rewarding days of the year.” Even the petting zoo animals; goats, sheep, roosters and Tinkerbell ‘Tink’ — the pot-bellied pig — were napping by the end of the day. “The positive feedback is overwhelming,” Glen said. Even a little boy came up to Glen after the wagon ride to say, “Thank you for the hayride, Farmer Glen.”
They also had busloads of young children visiting from the local elementary schools and daycare centres. The Hebbs were pleased to see the children enjoying the farm experience and corn maze.
As the leaves changed colour, Matthew’s challenging corn maze remained a popular attraction this season. Last year, the Hebbs tried a haunted corn maze, which went over so well that they offered it again this year. The Hebbs also had their annual pumpkin U-pick, offered wagon rides and hot cider to complement the fall season.
The farm market was well-stocked, and still is stocked, with fresh pears and apples. By customer request, they even offer a small scale fruit U-pick this season. With about 15 apple varieties, their top three sellers were cortland, gravenstein and honeycrisp. About 12 years ago, the Hebbs tried growing the honeycrisp as an experiment. The apples grew very well and have since gone on to become a customer favourite.
In existence since the 1800s, the Hebb cranberry marsh is the oldest continually operated commercial cranberry marsh in Canada. In 1998, the minister of agriculture at the time, Ed Lorraine, presented the Hebb family with a plaque of recognition. This season, the recent damp weather and rain slowed down the cranberry harvest. Once the weather was good enough to harvest, the Hebbs harvested the berries with a self-propelled raking device that conveys them into 35-pound totes, which are then moved off the field by wheelbarrow and dumped into boxes holding 6,000 to 8,000 pounds. The berries will have a chance to form colour and be packaged fresh for Christmas. As with other produce, some are put into cold storage for sale throughout the year.
During the winter months, the Hebbs plan for the spring and begin the cycle once again of providing top-quality, local goods to the community. For more information on hours or on seasonal activities, such as U-picks and wagon rides, contact Indian Garden farm via Facebook www.facebook.com/IndianGardenFarms or on their website at indiangardenfarms.net.