Located near Joffre, on the eastern side of Lacombe County, you will find Deep Roots Farm. This is where the Visscher family grows their 30,000 garlic plants. About 7 years ago, with a small section of their land and a goal to supplement their income Mark and his wife Brenda decided to grow garlic. Since then, they’ve increased the crop from 3000 to 30,000 plants and sell several different varieties, depending on the year.
In 2021 they added the farm store where they sell their garlic crop along with a variety of other products including pickled garlic, dehydrated garlic, black garlic, herb mixes, rubs, and lots of local and unique goodies. It should be noted that the Visscher garlic crop is not the typical varieties that you’ll find at the local market; they grow and sell a more unique selection such as Tibetan, Bogatyr, Georgian Fire, Baba Franchuk and Kostyn’s Red. Through the summer you can also purchase delicious, fresh, in-season vegetables. Visitors can access the store from April through December on Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm or by appointment.
Running a business inevitably provides added benefits beyond the overall economic impact. The addition of the garlic crop and subsequent opening of the farm store have both provided a lot of opportunities to meet new people, which the Visschers particularly enjoy. Mark shared that through those interactions, the people in Lacombe County have shown themselves to be community-minded and are happy to support local.
Another benefit of growing your own food is the ability to be self-sufficient. Reducing the reliance on supply chains and focusing on local distribution is a win for the producer, and the local economy. Of course, there’s also the benefit of being self-employed. The Visschers can make their own business decisions including how to steward their land. As Mark noted, building good, clean soil is particularly important to them. He has seen that more and more farmers are employing strategies such as low till practices and cover crops rather than black soil in an effort to take better care of the land.
An essential part of owning your own business is marketing it to your customer base. Mark has experienced this as well, and stated, “getting our name out there is probably the most important part of what we do on a daily basis.” If your customers don’t know what you offer or where to purchase it, your business success will be precarious at best. Mark has embraced social marketing as a way to accomplish this and often posts videos on their business Facebook page Deep Roots Farm to connect with his customers.
As we move into our central Alberta spring, keep in mind that the Visschers have been hard at work on their business all winter. With a short growing season, a tremendous amount of planning is required before a crop is ready to harvest. They also spend time finding new ways to support the needs of their existing customers to both strengthen those relationships and grow the reach to new markets. These activities require time, care, and dedication which the Visschers remain committed to.