Like petals from a flower, one can practically pluck the passion from the air as Sabina and Kees Kennema describe their love for gardening and farming.
The couple moved to Brae-Derby in October, 2015 after selling their Greenway Blooming Centre, a 60,000 square foot greenhouse operation, in Breslau, Ontario where they had a half a million potential customers within a 40-kilometer radius.
They moved to rural Prince Edward Island to retire, but their love for farming and growing their own flowers and vegetables has reeled them back in, albeit on a smaller scale.
“It brings a lot of enjoyment,” says Sabina.
Prior to Ontario the couple farmed in the Peace River district of Alberta where they would attend local farmers markets with their supply of kale and other produce. They’d give out recipes on how to use kale in vegetable smoothies. “I grew up with kale in the Netherlands,” said Kees. “I never thought we would grow kale in such quantities as we do today.”
At their former operation customers would bring in planters, window boxes and hanging baskets for the Kennemas to fill and get started with easy-to-care-for plants. They’d pick the containers up again when they were ready to put on display. They’re willing to do so again at their seasonal garden centre, Bluesky Farms, at 2967 Beaton Road in Brae Derby.
“That’s really where horticulture is going: people do not have time anymore to nurture small plants over a longer period. They want to have instant,” says Sabina. Her husband is a plant breeder by profession, and she takes pride in being a floral designer.
“I believe it still is very important that people experience the growing of plants, because they have to learn, if they see a beautiful bud, in an hour it is not open. It takes two or three days and you’re looking forward until it opens,” Sabina summarizes the growing process.
The couple have starter plants in their workshop-greenhouse which they wheel outside on warm days to acclimatize.
The key to a good garden starts with roots grown in good soil, the couple insists.
They are also preparing for a short retail season which will open on Saturday, May 26 and continue Monday to Saturday until the end of June.
Sabina, who did a noontime gardening show on CTV Kitchener one day a week for 10 weeks every spring and summer for 17 years, also plans to present a series of gardening seminars at Bluesky Farms. She will give a seminar every Saturday at 2 p.m. from May 26 until the end of June.
“That’s what I like to do; I like to tell people that, with little time they have to spare, they can still have a nice flower garden and vegetable garden and grow their own food right beside their homes,” said Sabina suggesting many could do so on a portion of their lawns.
The couple is also hoping to help grow agritourism in P.E.I., something they helped pioneer at their greenhouse. “Agritourism can be a link to your consumer,” said Kees.