Hazelwood Herb Farm

Here and There

| October/November 2003

  • Jacynthe Dugas and Richard White opened their herb farm in 1987 and named it Hazelwood Herb Farm after the two hazelnut trees on the property.
    Bruce Burnett
  • Hazelwood’s display gardens are frequented by gardeners and herb lovers intrigued by the more than 400 species of plants on 4.3 acres.
  • Richard built the three existing greenhouses in 1989 to replace two smaller ones.

Recipe: Rosemary and Orange Chicken 

I went out to the hazel wood, Because a fire was in my head, And cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked a berry to a thread; And when white moths were on the wing, And moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream And caught a little silver trout.
—The Song of Wandering, Aengus, William Butler Yeats

When Richard White decided to open the Hazelwood Herb Farm in 1987, he might not have had a fire in his head, but he certainly had a fire in his belly to pursue his passion for gardening and cooking with herbs. Today Richard, 55, and his partner Jacynthe Dugas, 53, grow one of the largest selections of herbs in Canada — more than 400 species on 4.3 acres.

Occasionally, they have misgivings about the wisdom of giving up secure and lucrative careers — Jacynthe ran a department of the Canadian federal government in the nearby city of Nanaimo, and Richard was a well-paid maintenance mechanic in a sawmill — for the hard work, long hours and economic uncertainties of herb farming. “But,” Richard says, “the thanks and appreciation of our loyal customers make it all worthwhile and gratifying. And we’re doing what we love.” When asked the most satisfying aspect of running the farm, Richard replies without hesitation, “Customer response. Helping them with their needs; finding plants and offering gardening and cooking advice.” The most aggravating? “Never being able to get away from it,” Richard says.

Richard and Jacynthe divide the work according to aptitude. Richard does all the cooking, runs the cooking classes and creates the culinary herb products. He also looks after the three greenhouses and the herb farm and garden. Jacynthe operates the gift shop, does the bookwork and ordering, and formulates and prepares the herbal bath, cosmetic and medicinal products, such as salves and creams. The only exception is the echinacea tincture, which is Richard’s responsibility.

Richard cites his Rosemary and Orange Chicken as his favorite culinary creation.

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