It is Sunday morning and Andrew Engqvist, owner-operator of Andrew’s Farm Stand on Tomlinson Road in Central Saanich, is pulling out bunches of carrots, shaking off the soil as he goes along.
Much of his property off Welch Road lies in the shade as a chill hangs in the air. But for carrots and other locally grown vegetables such as beets and Swiss chard, the temperatures are mild as farmers like Engqvist are reporting strong fall harvests.
“(I am) happy with how late in the season we are picking,” he said.
In fact, the Saanich Peninsula may indeed be the only place in Canada where farmers are still pulling carrots directly out of the soil. Engqvist estimates his operation generates about 20 cases a day.
These figures are good news for local shoppers, as these carrots end up on offer at such local markets as Root Cellar, Pepper’s Foods, Old Farm Market, Deep Cove Market and Fickle Fig Farm Market.
Overall, this year’s weather patterns have been pretty typical for a La Nina year, other than the heavy rain events earlier in the fall and winter. But like any farmer, Engqvist keeps a close watch on the weather report, which this week forecasts snow. “Heavy snow can damage the carrots,” he said.
Earlier this year, higher-than-usual temperatures damaged Greater Victoria berry crops, but proved a boon for other crops such as corn.
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