So much for retirement.
Lynda and Doug Dickie are grinding into a booming bakery business in their supposed golden years.
Doug, a former builder, and Lynda, a retired civil servant and fashion co-ordinator, have been producing organic flour, breads, crisps, cereals and pancake mixes from a stone mill in their country home on a half acre south of Mill Bay for a decade.
From humble beginnings at country fairs, Lyndie's Organic Bakery products are now sold in about 30 grocery stores on the south Island, including most Thrifty Foods and Fairway Markets stores and, most recently, the Country Grocer chain.
It's a labour of love that's picking up steam as most folks their age tend to toggle down. Doug is 73 and Lynda 67.
"Doug and I always say 'What else would we be doing?' You can only go to Hawaii so many times," said Lynda, during a break on one of the couple's busy work days that usually begins at 3: 30 a.m. and ends around 5 p.m.
An early adopter of organic grains, Lynda began serving artisan-style baked goods to her family more than 30 years ago.
"We've always believed in eating well," she says.
"Baking is something I've always loved to do. The real energy comes from the creative aspect, finding the grains, inventing the recipes and all the research and development.
"When you see that other people like what you do, that's the gratifying part."
The couple produce about 800 loaves a week, including high-fibre, multigrain, ancient grain, raisin and focaccia varieties.
They're also up to about 300 packages of organic crackers in three varieties and dozens of bags of flour, pancake, waffle and bread mixes and muesli cereal.
They're up before first light, grinding wheat in a converted three-car garage and baking in commercial ovens. Doug hits the road with deliveries and spends most of the day supplying groceries from Nanaimo to Esquimalt. Lynda works the kitchen, keeping the grain supply chain moving with her organic farmer in Alberta. Together, they pitch in with some homespun marketing and roll-up-the-sleeves salesmanship.
It used to be three days a week, but now the operation is up to five. And with 30 stores selling their products, the Dickies are deciding whether to take it to the next level.
"We're toying with approaching Walmart ... we think we can get it into local stores, but we know we're just about at capacity with the facility we have," says Lynda. "So that's the big question for us now. It all started as a whim, but it's a very strong business.
There's vitality there."
The business pays for itself and the rapid uptick on production hasn't incurred any debt, Lynda says.
She gets help from a neighbour and good friend, Barbara Kleinschmidt. And both grown sons, John and Michael, chip in, with John recently developing a website, www.lydies.com, for the business.
Lynda jokes she has been so busy she won't be able to make her 50th high school reunion next month at Mount Douglas Secondary.
But it's a lifestyle the Dickies are embracing, saying they're proving that a successful small business - along with years of healthy eating - is a "good strategy for a healthy life."
"We're a good match," says Lynda. "I'm a double-A personality and Doug's a Z.
He loves to get out and talk to people. The deliveries are a social thing. I'm the opposite. I'm in the kitchen and thinking about the next steps to take."
All of Lyndie's wheat products are made with certified organic grains from Bernie Ehnes, who operates the same farm in Etzikom, Alta. that his grandparents homesteaded more than 100 years ago.
The farm has about 4,800 acres, certified organic since 1992. A cleaning plant produces grains with no chemicals or pesticides and retains all parts of the kernel, including the bran, endosperm and germ, leaving valuable nutrients and flavour preserved. No essential oils are removed from the milled flour, either, says Lynda.
The farm will be supply organic Red Fife and Emmer - sometimes called Farro, one of the oldest wheat varieties (it's been discovered in ancient tombs). The Dickies will experiment with new products using those varieties.
The Dickies' milling method produces a coarse flour which provides a slower release of carbohydrates and fibre, making it a good choice for diabetics.
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