By Deidré Heim
The current state of the economy and high jobless rate is sure to place a damper on the summer vacation plans for some Vancouver families. If you are affected by this lot in life and need to scale back on your summer travel plans don’t despair as there is plenty to see, do and experience right in our own backyard.
I recently had an experience of a lifetime when I had the opportunity to participate in a Media Launch Group Tour that was hosted by Tourism Langley (www.tourism-langley.ca). This tour offered a sampling of the Langley Circle Farm Tour (www.circlefarmtour.com) which is one of six Regional Circle Farm Tours we have in the Mighty Fraser Country. The regions consist of Langley, Abbotsford, Mission, Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, Chilliwack, Harrison/Aggasiz which are all a hop, skip and jump from Vancouver, within a 45-85 kilometer radius from the city centre! That’s right; there is so much to see that is less than 100 kilometers from home and most of the attractions are free and extremely educational. A Circle Farm Tour is basically a road map that directs you to a variety of specialty farm-gate vendors, open air markets, charming eateries and heritage sites. The tours in our region generally operate between May and October.
Our day started with a sampling of the Smart Hot Breakfast Bar that is a daily complimentary offering when you stay at The Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, Langley (www.hiexpress.com/langleybc). After our breakfast 36 media personnel boarded a WestCoast Sight Seeing Coach and we made our way to our first stop at Aldor Acres Dairy Centre (www.aldoracres.com) a commercial dairy, where we were introduced to a herd of dairy cows and calves that were all named and tagged. We were shown how they are fed and milked both mechanically and by hand. Our next stop was at Driediger Berry Farms (www.driedigerfarms.com) since the berry fields were not quite ready and ripe for the picking this was a whistle stop and we received information on the production and size of the farm and when berry season was in full swing, of course it’s all dependant on Mother Nature. All 36 passengers on the tour received a home made blue-berry pie to take home, Yummy! We drove past the Thunderbird Show Park (www.thunderbirdshowpark.com) which is home to the Horse Show Jumping Contests. Did you know that Langley is known as the Horse Capital of the West Coast? We then traveled south of Hwy.1 and stopped at Krause Berry Farms (www.krauseberryfarms.com) where we were greeted by the owners who invited us to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee accompanied with the biggest individual freshly baked strawberry shortcake! We were informed of the farms beginnings and transitions over the years and the yield of their current operation. The coffee shop is also home to a farm market that displays all the products that they produce from the fruit and vegetables grown on the farm from jams, jellies, pickled beans, soups, fresh and frozen fruit pies, tarts to name a few that also make great gifts for those people that have everything and also offers an alternative and nice way to share a little taste of our own backyard country! Our next stop was a whistle stop at Erickson’s Daylily Gardens (www.plantlovers.com/erikson or www.plantlovers.com/daylily) as the display garden was not quite ready for showing because it too is also dependant on Mother Nature. We heard about the 3000 different Lily species that there is and 400 varieties of Hosta and believe it or not, there is a name for each and every flower and plant in this garden so this is definitely, a sight to go see when all is in bloom! July 4 and 5 is the opening weekend for this attraction! Our last stop for the morning leg of the tour was right next door at J.D. Farms Specialty Turkey Store (www.jdfarms.ca) where we had the most scrumptious Turkey Soup and Turkey Sandwiches for lunch.
The deli store is home to everything turkey and the turkey pepperoni is a real hit and comes in 3 flavours! Join in the Turkey Ride, a fundraising event for the fight against prostrate cancer on July 4 and 5 at J.D. Farms Specialty Turkey Store. Our lunch stop also included a tasting of the fruit wines from the Fort Wine Company (www.thefortwineco.com) fruit spreads and wine from Vista D’Oro Farms and Winery (www.vistadoro.com)organic produce from Well Seasoned and Kwantlen College Organic Society and samplings of bath and body products and a refreshing lavender lemonade from Tuscan Farms (www.tuscanfarmgardens.com). With our bellies filled with turkey delights accompanied by the fruit wine and calming lavender lemonade we were all ready for a nap, but were pleasantly surprised to find out that our next stop was at Domaine De Chaberton Estate Winery & Bacchus Bistro (www.domainedechaberton.com) we had the opportunity to hear, learn and sample the harvest of this well established winery. The heat of the sun and the additional sips of wine was a prime precursor to our next stop at Full Bloom Lavender Farm (www.fullbloomfarmca) where we were greeted by Robyn Wyman the owner of the farm and circled around the lavender fields that were almost ready to burst with colour. The aroma of the lavender fields was invigorating and we all received a full size sample of lavender lotion which is one small portion of the full array of bath and body products that is sold in the gift shop on the farm.
Wellness and Massage sessions are also available at the farm which makes for an ideal activity for a Mother and Daughter or Girlfriends retreat. Retreat rates provided at The Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, Langley. Our next stop was at Select Roses (www.selectroses.ca) where we toured the rose garden and green houses and saw giant rose trees and bushes in vibrant shades that bore a sweet fragrance. By now the sleepiness was starting to wear off and we were all calmed by the sweet smells. Our second to last stop was at Tuscan Farms which is home to the making of lavender bath and body products and a Bed and Breakfast Suite that caters to long term stays. Our final stop was at Cedar Rim Nursery (www.cedarrim.com) where we had the opportunity to walk the vast indoor and outdoor plants and trees sections. This is home to the most spectacular tropical garden section featuring saucer sized hibiscus flowering trees and garden pots filled with succulent plants of all types. The highlight of this stop was when our bus load of 36 passengers were each given a Japanese Maple Seedling to plant in our home gardens!
The hospitality, friendliness and gracious gift giving was overwhelming and it was a real treat to see and now know that we have such rich soil and produce grown right here in our very own backyard! So go on, get in your car and come and experience what awaits you in the Mighty Fraser Country, I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised and glad that you made the journey! www.circlefarmtour.com