The Gleaner
Agriculture

Caravias brings on the squash

The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling down and the gourds are coming out. At this time of year, pumpkin and squash are absolute staples. Whether you are using them in a pie, a roast, or to decorate your Thanksgiving table, Caravias Farm has your gourd needs covered.

Caravias Farm was started 23 years ago by couple Lynda Vandermeer and Ulysses Caravias. One of the main reasons behind starting such a farm was that it was something that could be done while Vandermeer was staying at home and raising kids; but one of her main inspirations was that the grocery store just doesn’t offer the same kind of variety and quality that she gets from her gourds. “The taste of squash and the variety in the grocery store is not there. I have what you get in the grocery store, but I’ve got more!”

 

 

Vandermeer grows over 30 different kinds of squashes and pumpkins on the farm. She offers pumpkins for cooking and for jack-o’-lanterns, as well as a special variety that produces the green pumpkin seeds “like the ones you’ve seen in trail mixes.” In terms of squashes, she has the classics like butternut, spaghetti, and acorn, but she also offers some more obscure ones. She carries both squashes for cooking and the smaller decorative types that can be used to make a perfect fall cornucopia. There is no processing done at the farm; only the gourds themselves are sold.

Something else quite special about this farm is its one-of-a-kind trellis that is completely covered in gourds. It is made from a wired fence and creates a tunnel for folks to walk through. Along this trellis, gourds of many different varieties grow right up to the top, making the plants tower over as you walk through. Vandermeer says it is set up for guests who can take pictures under it when visiting.

Some of Vandermeer’s favourite squashes include the Sunshine squash and the Delicata. The Sunshine is quite sweet and on the bigger end of things, and just one can feed up to six people; and the Delicata “tastes like a sweet potato.”

Squashes are great food to buy locally because one can stock up and try different types without fear of them going bad. “It’s very important to shop locally. And since squash and pumpkin have a long shelf life, it’s easy to pick up everything that you need for months,” explains Vandermeer.

Caravias sells its produce at its roadside kiosk. The opening hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day of the week. Though most of their stuff is pre-picked for customers, they are hosting a U-Pick event on the weekend on October 1-2. This event will be held during the farm’s regular business hours at 1119 Route 219 N in Hemmingford. Participation is free; guests will just have to pay for whatever they pick.

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