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Farmer bringing back classic farm stand in Courtenay

Farmer Dave Semmelink is opening the Lentelus Farms Stand on Comox Road Saturday
Lentelus Farms owner and operator Dave Semmelink is photographed on his farm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

While he may be relatively new to the Comox Valley, Dave Semmelink is looking forward to restoring a long-standing tradition.

Semmelink, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa just over five years ago, farms the back fields of what is known as Farquharson Farms in Courtenay, and on Saturday, is planning to open the Comox Bay Farm Stand - similar to one Jean and Jack Farquharson operated decades ago.

“I’m so excited,” said Semmelink, who farms a variety of produce along with pork, chicken and lamb. “The Valley has been so supportive.”

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John (known as Jack) Farquharson, grew and sold produce at his farm for many years. At first, he sold produce out of the trunk of his car on the side of the road, but along with his wife Jean, the pair eventually owned 192 acres of farmland in the middle of the city and built a small store.

The produce store expanded into a garden centre after the Farquharsons’ business grew over the years, and many Comox Valley youth picked produce, like strawberries, as summer jobs at the farm.

Farquharson sold the land to Ducks Unlimited Canada in 1998 when he decided to retire.

Semmelink made a connection with the organization as a few of his professors worked with them when he was completing his degree at the University of British Columbia.

He was able to sign a 20-year lease and said his values lined up with that of the organization.

“I’m very conservation-driven, and I really put the environment first when I farm. I think it’s one of the reasons Ducks Unlimited took me on because we have similar goals and environmental ethics. I’m a young, immigrant farmer and this is truly everything that Canada stands for.”

Semmelink noted the stand, which officially opens for its ’soft launch’ Saturday, Sept. 7 at 10 a.m., will feature squash, corn, garlic, salad greens, tomatoes and other produce, along with pastured meats from the farm including pork, chicken and lamb.

He may feature honey, bread and flowers from other local producers, but this year he added he will “see what works and play with hours,” while preparing for next year when he plans on featuring even more items from other growers and small-scale farmers.

Additionally, Semmelink is donating one per cent of all his revenue from the stand back to Ducks Unlimited.

“It’s for conservation projects as a thank you for the opportunity that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

Lentelus Farms Stand is located at 1300 Comox Road, and will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. throughout September. Parking is available on site.

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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