Meet Mary-Ann and Pim van Oeveren
Farm owners, Pim and Mary-Ann, are both horticulturalists, with degrees from Holland and Canada. In 1994 they moved from Holland to Canada. Over the last 28 years they’ve worked and taught in their field of expertise, which is horticulture. Pim is a fruit-, vegetable- and tree grower, and certified landscaper. Mary-Ann is a teacher in fine arts, a certified florist and avid cook.
After having lived and worked for several years in the Lower Mainland, BC, they moved to Alberta. From 2005-2014 they owned and operated a garden center, tree nursery, U-pick farm and tea house between Didsbury and Olds, called The Blooming Fields. Although both of them enjoyed their work there, they yearned for more time to focus on what they really want, which is living off the land and growing wholesome food without pesticides.
Tasty Acres is Born
In 2008 the Blooming Fields started to change from traditional growing practices to organic growing practices, but growing was only part of their daily work, since running the tea house and the garden center took up much of their time.
In 2014 they had the opportunity to sell their property in Alberta and move to a more favorable growing climate and landed in Salmon Arm, BC, where they purchased a certified organic cherry farm. The farm is conveniently located within Salmon Arm city limits, but at the same time is in the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve). The farm is surrounded by the gentle slopes of Larch Hills and Mount Ida, and the cooling waters of Shuswap Lake. During 2015 they restructured the farmland and started to plant a variety of edible plants.
Growing organically means keeping the soil as healthy as possible, knowing that healthy soil produces healthy plants; healthy plants in turn are less prone to diseases and bugs. It is a complete circle. For fertilizer they use compost, and goat manure.
Organic growing doesn’t mean that you don’t intervene when you have a problem with bugs or fungi. It means you don’t spray harmful chemicals. Instead you try to find out the root of the problem and act in a wholesome way. Bugs are usually trapped with bait, i.e. a mixture containing molasses and spinosat, which the bugs like better than the fruit. Spinosat is a natural pesticide made from a fermented bacteria. So, if you see them spraying the trees, don’t assume they are cheating, but realize that they are spraying the trees to protect them against infestation using a harmless concoction.
Weeds are a totally different game. No spraying! Just hard handwork! Luckily Pim has invented various weeding machines that he pulls behind his little tractor. You often find him early in the morning riding between the rows of plants to get rid of all the nasty weeds. The weeds that are close to, and in between the plants have to be removed by hand.
Sharing the Knowledge
Mary-Ann also speaks and demonstrates for garden clubs and other interested groups. Tasty Acres is also part of a local annual farm tour, where the public is invited to see for themselves what it means to operate an organic farm.