It’s been a little while in the making, but Will and Jodie Gemmell said they’re excited to have created a new gathering place in Nanoose Bay with their eatery on Rusted Rake Farm.
Since opening July 24 of this year, the couple said they’ve been happy to see the support of the community, with regulars already frequenting the establishment.
Serving baked goods, lunches and coffee, the eatery uses food grown on the organic farm on which it resides, making use of wheat, fruits and veggies, while also sourcing as many other needed ingredients as possible from local farmers. Produce from Rusted Rake Farm is also sold.
Despite experiencing growing pains and hiccups common to many new businesses, Jodie said, the response thus far “has been fantastic.”
“(We’ve had) a lot of support,” said Will.
Both the farm and the eatery have been an adventure for the pair, who said neither had been in their original plans.
They purchased the land four years ago as an investment, but plans changed and they decided to farm it themselves.
They quickly fell in love with farming, said Jodie. Both she and Will grew up on small hobby farms, with veggies, chickens, goats and more.
Making the land usable took some work, as it’s on a natural floodplain, they said. “We put in a berm, which enabled us to grow four acres of wheat in the back,” said Jodie, the second crop of which was harvested Sept. 6.
They also took down an existing greenhouse and rebuilt it, and now grow a variety of veggies including tomatoes, green beans and much more there, as well as blueberries on the property’s front acre.
The decision to go organic was something they’ve only felt more and more sure about as they’ve learned more about the positive effects organic farming has on land, they said.
“The thought of putting chemicals on your food and watching it grow through chemicals is just kind of… it’s not appealing,” Jodie said.
“Both Will and I, we recognize the importance of protecting the Earth as much as you can, and providing a natural environment for growing.”
They took the same philosophy to heart with their daughter, Hazel, who was born at home on the farm.
“It was really exciting,” said Will. “And it’s really made us more connected with the land here, too. Not just farming, but having our daughter born here.”
The idea for the eatery grew out of a need to support their farming activity, as well as a response to a community need, they said.
“It’s pretty hard to make a living at just farming,” said Jodie. “So we thought we would put a business on the property.”
At first they thought of a market stand, she said. “But then we realized that Nanoose was in desperate need of a little place of gathering, and we thought we’d open up a little cafe-style eatery.”
Of course opening the eatery was no easy task.
“It took us so long to get open because we took our time, and in the meantime we had had a daughter, and other adventures… the community was very, very patient with us, anticipating (the eatery) to open.”
After sleeplessness night leading up to the opening, the pair said they’re ecstatic about how it’s been received.
“It’s been four years… wondering how it’s going to do, or even look like, because it has changed from our original thoughts,” said Will.
They added they’re also happy to provide some local jobs to youth, and to have Karen Larsen run the kitchen.
For the future, Will and Jodie are working to get the breakfast menu at the eatery going, as well as looking at getting a liquor licence, and even making some liquor on the premises.
In the meantime, they said, Nanoose Bay has a new, family-friendly, farm-to-table eatery to try out, and perhaps make into a regular stop.