A Conversation with Corinne Higden-Wharram and Lisa Simms of Roots Country Farm


DSC01753The entrance to the farm

Corinne and Lisa are just starting out, but listening to them talk about the story of Roots Country Farm it's clear that the seeds are poised to grow beautifully.

Corinne grew up in a farming family. Her dad has a chicken farm in the area, and was a great help in putting the word out there that Corinne was looking for a property when it came time to finding the land near Bay Roberts where Corinne and Lisa are now. The old timers that run in her dad's circle are cited by both women as enormous sources of encouragement, knowledge, and help.

DSC01665 DSC01732

DSC01670Cauliflower; wildflowers; lettuce

Both women come from a background of working with growing things. They met in a flower shop – Corinne doing bridal design, and Lisa managing the store. Both were itching to get out of retail when the opportunity for this land came along. By the time the land came up for lease in the winter of 2011, Corinne had already been the recipient of a generous offer of a good deal on a greenhouse, with a second one thrown in for free, which they set up on her dad's farm to start their seedlings. By April they'd started clearing the land. By June plants were in the ground.



DSC01621Potatoes in the field; the first greenhouse; potatoes up close

So now they're growing on three fields on their leased land. They started with the fields that were easiest to clear – the ones that had most recently been in use, and were covered over with alder brush instead of full-grown trees. There's a field of squash, and zucchini. There's one filled with carrots, cabbage, lettuces, beans, and peas. There's a lower field of potatoes. They have old tractors from Corinne's dad, a transplanter, a mechanical weeder, and a backhoe. They have one of two greenhouses set up on their property. They have themselves, Charlie, the dog, some moose that roam the fields, and some bees from a local apiarist whose hives sit at the edge of the peas.

And they have big plans for the future to incorporate some of their many and varied interests. Already they're doing hanging baskets, but they want to expand out to other creative ventures like wreaths and bouquets. They'd even like to have small mobile artist cabins set up on the farm as a retreat for creatively-minded people. Considering that they built the farmstand wagon where they sell their produce (at the Bay Roberts' Visitor Information Centre) themselves, largely from recycled materials (like an old barn door), bringing this project to life doesn't seem too far away.



DSC01767The farm stand; fireweed; what's for sale

Community projects are also of interest. They've been out in schools with the Little Green Thumbs project and would like to open up a field for community use where people could come and grow things, and benefit from Lisa and Corinne's knowledge as they do so.

In short, Lisa and Corinne's energy, enthusiasm and passion are an inspiration. Lisa says her nieces and nephews always tell her, "Auntie Lisa, you work so hard!"

It's clear that Corinne and Lisa do, and it's clear that they've only just begun to reap the rewards of that work.

When this article was written in the summer, you could find Corinne and Lisa's produce on Saturday and Sunday at their stand at the Bay Roberts' Visitor Information Centre on Veteran's Memorial Highway (Highway 75 and L.T. Stick Drive) and in Churchill Square, St. John's. Check out their Facebook page for the times they'll be there and for updates. These days they're making and selling Christmas wreaths.


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Lisa and Corinne on getting started.

DSC01653Peas in the field.

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 On goats.

DSC01639Corinne and some (pretty fair sized!) zucchini.

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On what's on the grow, and veggie boxes.

DSC01649 Beehives! 

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On artist retreats, raising animals, growing flowers, making wreaths, community plots ... on future plans!

DSC01699The transplanter.

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On farming in this cold, blustery, rainy, moose-y place. On networks of support and what makes it worth it.

DSC01752 Thanks Corinne! Thanks Lisa!