Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

A whirlwind of business as farm bounty arrives weeks late after plenty of worry

Peninsula farms are selling corn, beets, beans, carrots, berries. Many crops are several weeks late because of the cold, wet spring and early summer.

Countless cobs of sweet corn, beets, carrots, wild and cultivated blackberries and more are being purchased and picked by residents keen to enjoy their annual locally grown favourites.

A wet and chilly start to the year pushed crops back two to three weeks, said Clayton Fox, of Silver Rill Corn. “Most farmers have been complaining about the weather this year more than usual. Everything is later.”

But now business is a “whirlwind.”

“We’ve been keeping up and it has been very busy,” Fox said Monday.

A cob of corn is selling for $1.25, the standard at local farms.

The main season is underway with super sweet varieties of peaches-and-cream, and yellow corn.

The farm, at 7117 Central Saanich Rd., sells between 7,000 and 12,000 cobs per day, Fox said.

While many buy corn to eat ­immediately, others order in for weddings or parties. Many freeze corn as well. Typically they blanch it, carve off the kernels, bag it up and pop it in the freezer.

Every year, Fox experiments with new varieties. He is provided with seed from companies who later send representatives to see how they turned out.

Corn is planted in stages through the season on 60 acres. Some plants are only about 0.3 metre tall right now but they will be the ones producing in the fall.

As with many local farmers, Silver Rill sells other produce, including carrots, beets and beans. “We are selling a very high volume of those three things.”

Varieties include rainbow coloured carrots, purple carrots and golden beets.

Sluggett Farms is selling corn under big tents at 6881 West Saanich Rd. starting Thursday.

Larry Sluggett also pointed to the spring delay, caused by lower-than-normal temperatures and higher-than-normal rainfall.

“But we do have a really good crop coming on now though.”

The farm’s sweet corn is grown on 40 acres. Most is sold to Sobeys (owner of Thrifty Foods), but there will be plenty for sale at the farm, too.

Sluggett Farms sells about nine varieties of corn. “We’ve learned over the years they produce superior quality sweetness, appearance and everything.”

Yellow corn and peaches-and-cream are most popular, Sluggett said.

In a normal year, planting starts in April, following with weekly planting for 13 weeks.

Sluggett expects this year’s crop to produce until about Halloween. Squash, beets and pumpkins are also grown at the farm. Customers seem to like buying corn and pumpkins at the same time.

At Gobind Farms, 6929 Veyaness Rd., where berries are a primary crop, 18-hour work days are standard right now, said Satnam Dheensaw.

The family farm suffered some losses in strawberries and raspberries due to the heat wave in July because it was impossible to pick the ripe fruit quickly enough, he said.

But the strawberry crop is now robust, with raspberries, boysenberries, blueberries and blackberries all available.

The early blackberry crop is over and the second is producing. Despite the weather, “they just worked out perfectly.”

Blackberries will be available into September, he said.

While strawberries are the most popular berry among customers, blackberries are gaining in popularity.

Cultivated blackberries are typically larger with a slightly different flavour than wild, he said. A pint sells for $7.50.

Gobind is also selling large bulbs of Russian red garlic, grown on six acres of land, for between $4 and $7 depending on the size.

The farm has housing for 20 people who come into Canada to pick, but not that many showed up this year. It has been difficult to get enough local pickers as well, Dheensaw said.

This is the time of year when local residents also seek out wild berries, now ripening in public parks, along trails and just about anywhere where they can sprout up. Blackberries are easy to find but less easy to pick because of their thorns.

Serious pickers bring ladders, gloves and buckets, or even a device with a long handle and hook on the end to pull in those hard-to-reach berries.

To find out what is ripe and where, go online to

>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor:

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks