Brianna Van de Wijngaard is a new farmer, young farmer, and hero farmer in Williams Lake, BC. Her farm, Puddle Produce operates on leased land plots using the SPIN model of farming to produce delicious fresh produce for the local community. Brianna was kind enough to share some of her farming experiences with the Young Agrarians…..
Name? Brianna van de Wijngaard
Where you farm? Williams Lake, BC
Favourite vegetable or fruit to grow in summer?
Beets! They grow really well here, are easy to process for market, and are beautiful!
What is your favourite vegetable to grow in the winter?
I’ve only done shoots and microgreens, under lights: so they’re my fave! Sunflower, pea, radish, and broccoli.
What is your favourite way to cook …. ?
Fresh and experimental. I love to try new recipes, using any ingredient we can find locally, or provincially. I also like to cook big batches and freeze during the summer, so I don’t have to cook as often when it’s so busy.
How did you get into farming?
Farm stays after I graduated university in 2011.
What type of farm model do you work?
My operation is a registered small business.
What appeals to you most about the land that you farm?
That it doesn’t cost me any $$, and it is visible! I love seeing people walk by one of the plots downtown, and stopping to admire all the veggies growing, instead of grass. It’s great to see people getting used to seeing food production in their neighbourhood, especially in this region.
What was the first thing you remember ever planting?
Lettuce and tomato starts in a VERY hot greenhouse (most didn’t make it).
Describe the feeling you had when you were harvesting your first crop?
I think I was nervous….there were a lot of weeds! And I was worried people wouldn’t like them or that they wouldn’t taste good.
How did you get into farming – seriously?
After I read some of the SPIN Farming modules. The notion of farming for a living seemed viable, and like a real possibility, for the first time at that moment.
What did it feel like when you found your land to farm?
Scary! But good. I lease plots right in town, so I am always a bit nervous having a number of stakeholders involved, rather than just myself. If it doesn’t look good, or crops fail. There’s an image standard to uphold, to a degree, so that’s always on my mind.
What farming tool could you not live without?
At this scale, a rototiller.
What farming tool do you wish you had?
A better rototiller.
If you had a farming super power what would it be?
That every seed I put in the ground survived. 100% germination rate super power!
If you weren’t a farmer what would you be?
Something physical. Probably a trade, like carpentry or electrical.
How does that reflect in your farming life?
The physical labour.
What have you had to sacrifice the most to farm?
Predictable and stable income, and my family: they live in Victoria, BC.
What is your least favourite farmer related stereotype?
That they are destined for a life of poverty.
What / who inspires you to farm?
What: Making sure fresh, sustainable, and healthy food sources are available to as many people as possible!
Who: local Cariboo farmers (super-courageous and hard-working), and the many successful, modern farmers out there: Elliot Coleman, Joel Salatin, Curtis Stone, Wally Saztewich, and the many SPIN farmers I follow.
What is the biggest challenge that you think young farmers in B.C. face?
Competition from cheaper food sources.