Meet the Vendors – Cathy and Clyde Millner of Homeplace Farm

Part of a series about the Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market, written by Valerie Davies.

Cathy and Clyde Millner of Homeplace Farm, Upper Clements

By Valerie Davies

The Millners grow a selection of herbs and vegetables in their greenhouse ready for market each Saturday.  One of the all year round staples is their micro mix, either spicy or mild to add to sandwiches.  The seeds are planted each Wednesday and by Saturday of the next week are ready for sale.  Guests at the Historic Gardens Dinner, May, 28 will enjoy a sprinkling of micro mix with their salad.

Other fresh vegetables they grow include lettuce, spring onions, chard and radish sold in bunches, and beans, peppers and cucumber as well as sweet cherry tomatoes and eggplants in pots for the patio or garden.  Cathy suggests that customers wait till the long weekend to put the tomatoes and eggplant into the garden. Eggplants like the warm part of the garden. She also grows zinnias and snapdragons to attract the bees.

Cathy and Clyde mainly re-seed or use cuttings from their own plants.  Occasionally they order in herbs for cuttings.  All of their plants are organically grown.  They buy bags of compost, vermiculite and peat moss and mix these together by hand.  Also included in the soil mix is chicken and sheep manure from their own animals.  Their greenhouse belonged to Cathy’s parents Joan & Layton Hamilton who had a greenhouse operation , Hillsburn  a few years ago.  (Cathy used to help them when they sold plants at the market in Liverpool and also helped them with transplanting so gaining a great deal of experience in plant propagation.)  The temperature in the greenhouses is usually around 25 degrees, going up to 30 in the summer. They heat the working tables with electric heat that can be adjusted and control the amount of sunshine coming into the greenhouse with blinds. The plants are watered by hand.

Homeplace Farm where Clyde grew up, belonged to his parents Maynard and Ethel. Cathy grew up in Hillsburn. Clyde had been a deep-sea fisherman Lunenburg and then Digby  but he left fishing to take up a job as Superintendent of the Jail at the Court House in Annapolis Royal in 1982. The family lived at the courthouse until 1985 then Clyde became a Correctional Officer at Waterville and then Halifax.  They were the last family to live there. They moved to just outside Kentville where Cathy had a market garden from 1999 to 2006 called The Rock Garden.  This was the first Certified Organic Greenhouse in Nova Scotia open to the public.  Cathy and Clyde only came to live in Upper Clements in 2006 when they began their present greenhouse business and originally named the farm The Homeplace Organic Farm, now shortened to Homeplace Farm.

Cathy is on the executive of the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale coming up soon and will have her organically grown tomato plants for sale.  She also is preparing special bean seeds to be used in the experimental garden at the Historic Gardens and concentrating on producing a white sage bush and a bay tree, all grown organically.  This year for the first time she is growing peanuts in peat pots.

For more information e-mail the Millners at:  ccmillner@hotmail.com

The Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market runs every Saturday morning, 9-12, from mid October through mid May at the Historic Gardens.

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