Grand Falls gardeners fight inflation with homegrown vegetables

In the face of rising food prices, a married couple in northwest New Brunswick provide their community with affordable, healthy vegetables.

Rezel and Camille Rossignol own and operate Hearn Farm in Grand Falls where they grow a wide variety of vegetables.

These include Chinese cabbage, tatsoi, peanuts, loofah, Asian spinach, butternut, onion and garlic, bitter gourd, Saskatoon sherry and potatoes, most of which have a head start in one of the farm’s two greenhouses.

Though they may do so on a larger scale, the Rossignols are just among the many New Brunswickers who have taken to growing food on their own land, often inspired by inflation.

CLOCK | A Grand Falls, NB couple is taking home gardening to another level:

Gardening couple fights inflation with homegrown vegetables

As food prices soar, a New Brunswick gardener couple brings affordable, healthy vegetables to their community.

Rezel Rossignol grew up in a small farming village in Palimbang Sultan Kudarat, Philippines.

She credits her upbringing with nurturing her undying love for plants.

“I love watching them grow,” she said. “From the seeds you put in the ground until they flower and produce, it’s really satisfying to watch.”

In 2017, she and biochemist Camille Rossingnol married in New Brunswick and started their garden together.

In addition to running the Hearn Farm with Rezel, Camille Rossignol is a biochemist. He says the farm provides some food security for the community and gives people the opportunity to buy fresh produce. (Aniekan Etuhube/CBC)

“When I met Camille and he said, ‘I farm,’ I said, ‘Oh farming, that sounds good.’

Rezel now cultivates more than 50 types of vegetables in the controlled climate of her greenhouse before transplanting them into the fields.

The vegetables are planted in small pots early in the year to encourage growth before the season begins.

This technique helps ensure an early harvest and high yield, Rezel said.

“That’s why I planted them early. That way we can harvest them early even in our very short season.”

Food security a goal

Camille said the farm helps ensure food security for the community and an option for people to buy fresh food, which has become more difficult at the grocery store.

“They wish they could buy it, but it’s so expensive it’s beyond their budget,” Camille said.

Together, Rezel and Camille have developed their own techniques for growing vegetables, even experimenting with rare species not commonly found locally.

Vegetables like bitter gourd, bottle gourd, and lufa grow in tropical climates, but Rezel’s greenhouses allow him to grow and harvest them here.

Camille said Reza amazed him with her raw instincts about farming.

“As a biochemist, I just analyze the soil, and she just goes through it and tells me, ‘Oh, I don’t think that fits,’ and she’s mostly right, just because of the nature of the soil.”

Growing interest in gardening

As with many pandemic-related hobbies, COVID-inspired DIYers found a place in backyards and balconies with a newfound — or perhaps renewed interest in gardening.

Gardening in New Brunswick, Canada is just one of many Facebook groups where green thumbs can gather virtually to discuss all things gardening in the province. The group has more than 16,000 members.

Daily enthusiasts join in the conversation about their plants, share tips and tricks, and solve their challenges.

Karen Petersen is a garden lover whose budding love of the backyard has grown with the pandemic. She is a frequent user of the Facebook group and said a good mix of new and experienced gardeners has helped her through her three years as a gardener.

Karen Petersen believes inflation has prompted more people to embrace the home gardening trend. (Aniekan Etuhube/CBC)

“It was just a gold mine of information, it was fantastic,” said Petersen. “And I know there are a lot of people there who are newbies like me. We just love the community.”

Though COVID numbers are declining around the world, the gardening trend continues to grow. New members join the group every day with questions about growing their own food.

Petersen believes inflation has prompted more people to take up gardening at home.

“In the group itself, there are people who are definitely struggling with the high cost of living and increased food prices.”

But once you plant a garden, it gives so much back, Petersen said.

Rezel Rossignol agrees. She plans to add more outlets that will provide the community with affordable and healthy alternatives. She also hopes that as time goes on, more people will try to reap the fruits (or vegetables) of their own labor.

“Seeing everyone happy and healthy… that’s a god given thing, you know,” Camille said. “For me, that’s the principle of this small farm.”

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