A Farmer’s Market which had been established along Hwy No. 57 on the way to Duck Mountain Provincial Park several years ago has expanded to the next level.
Natural Reflexions Market, owned and operated by Wendy Becenko on an acreage 12 kilometres east of Kamsack, has been “getting big,” according to Becenko, and she knew expansion was the only answer to be able to deliver more produce, faster.
Enter Karen Pfeifer of the now shuttered Grandma B’s Greenhouse near Runnymede.
“Karen has 21 years of knowledge about the greenhouse business, and she offered me the opportunity to learn how to set up my own greenhouse,” Becenko said. “With her guidance I was encouraged to undertake the expansion at the market to include my first greenhouse.”
The structure was erected last fall, planting “starts” were ordered in the winter, and they arrived on March 15.
“Everything is growing so amazingly in the greenhouse,” Becenko enthused. Her husband, Glen, is in charge of heat and water, Wendy does all the seeding and transplanting, and their daughter Makayla does the “onion clipping,” while helping and learning. “She’s being home-schooled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she is a big help in the greenhouse.
“Karen is my knowledge base and tutor,” Becenko continued. “I feel fortunate to have her expertise to draw on.”
Musing about how Natural Reflexions Market got its start-up a few years ago, Becenko admitted that her favorite place to be was in the garden, connecting with nature. It all started with a small garden, and people came to support it. Then she started baking, and that was a hit with clients. She started to invite other vendors to set up tables at the Market and soon found she had up to 18 vendors and over 300 visitors during the typical Saturday opening.
“We experienced so much growth that we knew we had to expand to keep up with demand,” she said. “We have done it steadily but slowly, trying to showcase a good variety.”
Wendy’s husband, Glen, “loves to barbeque meats,” and his sandwiches are well received.
According to the government regulations and guidelines, the greenhouse is deemed an essential service, but may only operate within the guidelines.
“Our greenhouse is 20 by 60 feet, with 1,200 square feet of space, but we will only be allowed to have one customer enter at a time,” she said.
To keep a good customer flow, Becenko is taking online appointment bookings on her website, naturalrelextions.com. The greenhouse will open for the public on May 1, and will operate from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
“So far the response has been very favourable and I foresee things possibly selling out quickly,” she said. “I am already thinking to expand the greenhouse in the future, to continue to serve the customer base in the area.
“Although the greenhouse has been deemed essential service, the Farmers Market has not, as of April 27,” Becenko said. “I think we will still be subject to the guidelines and groups limits as they are open by the province. This year that means no Farmers Market. We will adjust our ways to provide the foods grown in our area to our customers.”
One way is online orders and the other is offering the subscription program, even though she has installed the COVID aware signs and is using contactless payment options.
Because of market uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, a new idea for this year has Becenko’s Natural Reflexions Market teaming with other producers to provide a new weekly food box subscription program. It will run every week for 10 weeks this summer. The idea is a timely compromise to meet with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and still provide delicious, in-season fresh vegetables, salad greens, seasonal fruits, jams and jellies, plus a variety of add-ons which are available. All the ordering information is on the website and Facebook pages.
Becenko says there will be three basic basket sizes available: large, suitable for a family of four to six; half-size, for two to four, and individual for one to two persons. The baskets will either be picked up at the market or home delivery for a fee.
“We’ve had lots of inquiries and we will strive to meet everyone’s needs with our food basket program,” she said. “Those interested should watch our Facebook page or sign up for our emails on our website.
Add-ons include breads and baking, Glennie B’s BBQ lunch for two, Glenda Tulloch with fresh-cut flowers, In Good Taste pack and Duck Mountain Coffee Roasting Company with coffee, and more, but all vendor suppliers are subject to change.
“We actually have someone buying a subscription for a needing family. That family will get fresh veggies and fruit all summer grown by local gardeners. How cool is that?” Becenko said.
“The producers of the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) baskets are subject to change,” she continued. “Next year, God be willing, we all will be back to our full Market, offering handcrafted, locally made, fresh-baked and naturally inspired items,” she concluded.
“We are Duck Mountain’s Country Market experience,” says its website. “Brighten your day with a visit to Natural Reflexions’ Country Markets where you’ll find all things home-grown, locally-made, fresh-baked, hand-crafted and naturally inspired. It’s worth the drive!”