A warmer and drier than usual May has led to an early harvest and a longer growing season for at least one local farm.
Sea Bluff Farm in Metchosin has reported an early strawberry crop this season. General manager Robin Tunnicliffe said the farm, which usually harvests strawberries in the first and second week of June, was able to harvest strawberries last week – three weeks earlier than normal, which also allows the farm to extend the growing season.
“It’s been good for us because it spurred things on early,” Tunnicliffe said. “It looks like a promising year.”
This year, Sea Bluff, as well as other farms in the region, have benefited from drier and warmer than normal temperatures.
According to Environment Canada, Victoria saw 8.8 millimetres of rain compared to the usual 25.8 in May.
“Province-wide we’ve been drier than normal just about everywhere,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Erven.
“It’s much much drier than normal and on track to set the driest May on record.”
Locally, Sea Bluff plants the majority of its spring crops such as salad and cooking greens, in April and towards the end of May. Every week, workers harvest and re-plant seeds in succession, growing all year-round. The dry weather has been the key, said Tunnicliffe, as it allows workers to get into the fields and harvest produce earlier.
“The faster things come out of the field, the faster we can get more in so we can get a bigger yield for the summer,” she said.
Sea Bluff Farm is also a part of Saanich Organics, and distributes produce to 30 restaurants and four grocery stores around Greater Victoria.
In addition, the farm also sells produce at its farm stand on Tuesdays and Saturdays (565 Wootton Rd.), as well as at the Moss Street, James Bay, Metchosin and Goldstream farmers’ markets.
Despite the early growing season, Tunnicliffe said the farm has had trouble selling its produce due to the lack of people coming out specifically to the Goldstream Farmers Market at Veterans Memorial Park on Saturdays. She emphasized the need for residents on the West Shore to support local farms.
“Local farms are the place to get the best food,” she said, noting the fresher the produce is, the more nutrition it has.
“A lot of the food in the grocery stores are a week or two weeks old, whereas if people get it from the farmers’ markets, it was picked the day of or the day before. The nutritional value is a lot higher.”
— With files from Kat Slepian