Chris Edwards

Sieffert’s sowing seeds for a community

Local farm believes in giving back

Scott Stanfield

Record staff

For more than 50 years, Sieffert’s Farm Market in Comox has been supplying loyal patrons with an array of wholesome products during the growing season.

The family operation also gives back to the community by donating to the weekly soup kitchen that operates out of St. George’s United Church in Courtenay.

“We do lots of different donations,” said Charlene Sieffert, co-owner along with her husband Bob and their friend Chris Edwards.

“We do a lot of different groups that are doing the Christmas hampers.”

The farm grows its own vegetables but brings in various items for convenience such as eggs and mushrooms.

“And then [we] bring in garlic and onions at this time of year, but when ours are ready we use ours,” Charlene said. “When we start up it’s May. So if there’s B.C. product we buy local; if not, it’s the U.S.

“All the fruit we get is B.C. product. Except for when we start up in the spring. If there aren’t any apples available, then I have to hit the States for Washington. But for the most part it is as close to home as we can.”

Sieffert’s began several decades back when Bob’s parents, Jean and Norm, started out across Knight Road from the current locale.

“Dad was working over there with Lloyd Smith,” Bob said. “When they started on their own it was here in the early-60s. We built the first greenhouse here in ’63.”

“They sold out of their carport,” Charlene said. “People would just drop in. It evolved.”

The market opened in 1975. Bob grew up two houses down from the present location at 720 Knight Rd., which is about a kilometre past the Comox Airport. Charlene grew up on Bates Road. Edwards also grew up in the Valley.

“It amazes me all the new people still coming. But there’s tons of regulars,” said Charlene, who would see more foreigners a few years ago. “We used to get a lot of American bills. We’re not getting as much of that, but that’s also partly because of debit, too.”

They own about 300 acres of land between Comox and Merville.

“There’s 150 acres planted,” Bob said, noting 30,000 square feet of greenhouses.

“We do have another generation involved. Our son-in-law’s (Matt) working with us.”

Matt is married to their daughter, Alysha. Their other daughter, Jennifer, “married a farmer,” Charlene said.

The market runs daily from late-May to Nov. 10. The farm employs more than 50 people at the height of the season.

Charlene says they’ve had “phenomenal staff.” One lady has worked at Sieffert’s for 32 years; another about 18 years.

“Over the last several years it’s been awesome crews,” she said.

“We’re lucky to have some really good people,” Bob said. “It makes a huge difference.”

Running a farm is “probably more (work) than people realize,” Charlene said. “We’ve got the greenhouses, the market, the fields. There’s people out hoeing and weeding, and there’s a crew that does all the potatoes and corn. And then you get the young guys in when the beans and peas and pickles and cucumbers start.

“What’s really nice is if you can get kids starting from high school,” she added. “You get them, they go to the beans and pea patch, and if they handle that, they work up and they do other parts on the farm.”

One girl — who just completed university — is closing in on 10 years at Sieffert’s. She started in the bean and pea patch.

“They (students) can come home, they know they have a job, they live at mom and dad’s for cheap, and then get full-time work,” Charlene said. “We’ve had a lot of people, that’s how they paid for their schooling.”

The farm was a finalist for Agricultural Business of the Year at the 2014 Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce Community Awards.

Another proud moment happened last week when Sieffert’s harvested food for St Joseph’s General Hospital and Glacier View Lodge. The harvesting marked the first farm direct delivery of local food to hospital patients — and the first step towards re-localizing institutional food systems.

“It just makes so much sense to re-localize the food system, which will help revitalize the economy and ensure that we remain a farming community,” said Sandra Hamilton, who has spearheaded FEED Comox Valley (Food, Environment and Economic Development), a pilot project that started at North Island College. It is one of eight such projects across Canada geared to increasing the supply of local food in public institutions.

“A strong local food culture is essential to our brand as a community, driving tourism and creating jobs,” Hamilton said.

 

Just Posted

Local musicians inducted into Comox Valley Walk of Achievement

Seven local musicians have earned their spot among some of the Comox… Continue reading

North Island Hospital Comox Valley looking for funds to open fourth operating room

One of the priorities of the Comox Valley Hospital is to significantly… Continue reading

Increased accessibility an uphill battle for former Courtenay resident

Brian George wheeled himself up Ryan Road as part of his Halifax Oddesy Tour

Is your Foodsafe certification still valid?

According to B.C. Ministry of Health, approximately 800,000 B.C. Foodsafe Level 1… Continue reading

A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

NASA provides a timelapse of smoke covering B.C. from space

Court hearing on Humboldt Broncos fundraising to test Saskatchewan law

The money has yet to be distributed because Saskatchewan has legislation known as the Informal Public Appeals Act

Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains

Residents of a Fredericton apartment complex may not be able to return home just yet

Bus crash in Ecuador kills 23 people, injures 14

The bus hit another vehicle in an area known as dead man’s curve on Tuesday

Trump lashes out at Omarosa, calls her ‘that dog’

Manigault Newman continues promoting her White House tell-all and releasing secret audio recordings

UPDATED: Cars plunge in Italian highway bridge collapse; 25 killed

Five more people are injured and in serious condition

Man plows truck into Houses of Parliament in London

UK police treat Parliament crash as terrorism, man arrested

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Most Read