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Travel: Langley offers taste of farm life and a walk with alpacas

Bring a cooler to pack with berries in the Fraser Valley, which produces more than half of B.C.’s annual agricultural revenue.

It’s not every day you get to take an alpaca for a walk but here I was with “Wendy” happily following me as I walked down “Alpaca Avenue” at Kensington Prairie Farm in Langley.

Even though our guide provided my daughter and I with a bucket full of grain to help coax Wendy along, it seemed she wasn’t hungry. Turns out she was more interested in visiting other alpacas in the fields, but she still allowed us to lead her on the walk … as long as we were heading in her preferred direction — toward her herd. There are about 80 alpacas, some lamas and two donkeys on the farm.

While Wendy snuggled nose to nose with an alpaca friend, my daughter’s attempt at sharing some grain with the next alpaca we encountered was definitely a teaching moment. The male alpaca spit out some of its regurgitated feed on my daughter’s arm much to my amusement. Hers, not so much.

If you are from the city, as we are, a visit to Langley provides a great opportunity to get out and get a taste of farm life. And if you visit in summer or fall, you have the added benefit of experiencing the area’s deep agricultural roots. The Fraser Valley and its rich fertile soils produce more than half of B.C.’s annual agricultural revenue. This is the time to pack your cooler with fresh berries and vegetables for the road trip home.

Our home base for our two-day Langley getaway was Sage and Solace Farm, where we checked into one of the farm’s two Airbnb suites. Our two-bedroom suite had views of the gardens and willow trees and proved to be the perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature, from hearing the barn owls at night to watching the antics of the farm’s four friendly geese during the day.

The fluffy geese, a species called Sebastopol, were amusing to watch waddle around the property giving off Jemima Puddle duck vibes. Other animals on the farm included chickens, Nigerian Dwarf goats and two large livestock guardian dogs named Zeus and Xena, who are so friendly it’s hard to resist not distracting them from their farm duties.

A highlight of our stay was taking a floral design class with owner/artist Barb Pearson, who has created a pastoral setting on the farm, reminiscent of a Claude Monet painting. Although we did many outings during the day, into Fort Langley and the surrounding area, we always tried to return by the golden hour when garden walks were particularly magical.

It wasn’t always this way on the farm. When Pearson, a former civil lawyer, and her husband bought the farm in 2018, it had been vacant for 15 years and there were only a handful of trees on the 20-acre property. Her dream was to create an organic garden, with flowers native to British Columbia as well as others like cosmos, zinnias and sweet peas to name just a few.

“This place was so horribly ugly I needed to make it beautiful, so I started buying plants,” says Pearson, adding that, 30,000 plants later, she still finds it hard to resist expanding her sizeable gardens, that are open to the public during special events, like weddings, concerts, workshops and retreats.

While Pearson taught us how to create our own bouquets from flowers we picked, from her cutting garden, she explained why the dahlia, planted in abundance and in all colors, was her favourite.

“I call the dahlia the drama queen because there’s nothing more beautiful in a bouquet with their brilliant colours. They let you know the rest are just supporting actresses,” she says.

Although I would have happily spent our mini-vacation just on the farm, Hannah and I needed to eat. Although the suite did have an incredible kitchen, I was on holiday, so dinner out is always a nice option.

One of the best ways to take in some of Langley’s culinary highlights was with a local company called Chew on This Tasty Tours, founded three years ago during the pandemic as a way to support local business owners.

We took the Fort Langley tour but there are also tours in downtown Langley, Maple Ridge, Abbotsford and Surrey.

Founder Lise Hines explains it’s a great way to meet local makers, bakers, chefs and small shop owners and although it’s a self-guided tour after meeting her initially, at your first stop, it’s easy to go from place to place discovering the best the community has to offer.

“What makes Fort Langley’s tour unique is it’s a mix of good food and a little bit of history and shopping. It’s a nice balance of everything,” says Hines.

Our first stop of many that morning was the Little White House, where I was surprised by our first offering of food — a three level cake plate full to the brim with both savoury and sweet treats. Coming from a British background, I love an “afternoon tea” anytime of the day.

Afterwards, we headed to Fort Langley National Historic Site, located on the grounds of the original fort, built on the Fraser River in 1827. The original store of the Hudson’s Bay Company is still standing but the other buildings in the fort have been rebuilt. It’s a “living” museum which means staff at the fort are dressed in period costume and recreate what life in the colony was like in Fort Langley, known as the “birthplace of B.C.”

If you go

Where to eat

Sabo Bistro in downtown Fort Langley is a contemporary designed restaurant, housed in one of Fort Langley’s historic brick buildings. I had the halibut with coconut jasmine rice and fresh vegetables and my daughter enjoyed her pasta with house made bolognese sauce.

Bacchus Bistro at Chaberton Estate Winery serves French cuisine with a West Coast Flair at one of the largest wineries in B.C. and the oldest in the Fraser Valley (established in 1975 by a couple from France). If you go opt for the outdoor patio with views of the vineyard and definitely order the delicious portobello and oyster mushroom tart appetizer.

Krause Berry Farms is not only a u-pick berry field, and store but also has an extremely popular waffle bar, no doubt because of the generous portion of fresh berries on top. This is a great place to pick up locally sourced products like the jams, jellies and fresh pie made at the farm.

Haven Kitchen & Bar in the heart of Langley offers a causal dining menu in a quirky and fun setting, starting at the entrance with a disco ball overhead and moving into the main restaurant with an over the top bar with the neon sign “choose your own adventure.” For food I’d choose the noodle bowl again and again if I lived nearby. Very tasty.

Kim Pemberton was hosted by Langley Tourism, which did not review or approve this article. Follow her on Instagram at kimstravelogue.