Donna Patterson and Hank Wells from Redneck Gardens in Horsefly were among the first contingent of local growers to make it back to the Williams Lake Farmer’s Market in August after the wildfire evacuation order was lifted for Williams Lake.
They were able to bring in the 11 kinds of sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables that Donna specializes in making using produce from their large market garden. Her fresh sliced coleslaw mix is a popular seller.
When the wildfires in July appeared to be advancing on their area they took steps to prepare for an evacuation.
They set up pens in a 14-foot trailer they have for all of their animals but fortunately were not within the Spokin Lake/Miocene evacuation order area.
“We were on the cusp of being evacuated,” Patterson said.
The the couple live off-grid on 40 acres at Horsefly so they were blissfully unaware of any power outages that may have been caused by the wildfires.
“We have solar power, a solar fridge and a generator so we are quite comfy,” Donna said. “We usually do everything on a wood cook stove but this summer we are using propane because of the threat of fire.”
They keep one acre in market garden produce and raise turkeys, chickens and pigs for meat. They buy locally grown beef and do all of their own butchering.
“When we started out we decided that we had to learn a new traditional skill every year,” Donna said.
The couple had been living the same back-to-the-land lifestyle in the Okanagan, except there they had hydro electric power. They decided to sell their property in Lumby and move to Horsefly in April, 2015 essentially so they could live mortgage free.
They lived in a tent through the spring and summer of that first year to concentrate of establishing their garden and provisions for their animals. They only starting to build a cabin for themselves once temperatures began to drop in the fall.
“We started the garden before we started to build the cabin,” Donna said. “It took about six weeks to build the cabin because it was getting really cold and we were really motivated to be inside.”
They are not a certified organic farm but they don’t use herbicides, pesticides, or commercial fertilizers.
In winter they use melted snow for washing and watering the seedlings they grow to plant in the garden in spring. They buy their drinking water in Williams Lake.
While living off grid, Donna says they usually turn on their generator on Sundays between 6 and 8 p.m. so they can receive satellite Internet service.
Donna can be reached at email@example.com for orders
The Williams Lake Farmer’s Market takes place on Friday mornings in Boitanio Park from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Visitors will find a wide variety of vegetable produce, frozen meat options, eggs, fruit from the Okanagan, baking, ready-made lunch options, craft items, and often music to shop by.