Hazelwood Herb Farm becomes second ÉconoMusée in B.C.

Interactive displays give visitors a chance to learn about more than 400 different herbs at Ladysmith-area farm.

Owner Barbara Stevens leads a tour of Hazelwood Herb Farm during the inauguration of the North Oyster farm as the second ÉconoMusée in B.C. on June 14.

Owner Barbara Stevens leads a tour of Hazelwood Herb Farm during the inauguration of the North Oyster farm as the second ÉconoMusée in B.C. on June 14.

Sweet Sicily. Wasabi, Monkshood. Arnica. Echinacea. Goat’s Beard. Skullcap. Hops. St. John’s wort.

These are just a handful of the more than 400 varieties of herbs that are produced at Hazelwood Herb Farm in North Oyster.

And now that Hazelwood has become the second ÉconoMusée in British Columbia, visitors will learn even more about these herbs through interactive signage and displays.

The Société de développement économique de la Colombie-Britannique (SDECB) and its partners announced the inauguration of the second ÉconoMusée pilot site in British Columbia, the Herbalism ÉconoMusée at Hazelwood Herb Farm, June 14.

Hazelwood Herb Farm is now recognized among the 65 members of the international  ÉconoMusée Network in Canada and northern Europe.

An ÉconoMusée is a craft or agri-foods business whose products are the fruit of an authentic technique or know-how, according to SDEBC. The business showcases artisans and craft trades by offering an area for interpreting its production and by opening its doors to the public.

The second inauguration, which comes about a month after Merridale Estate Cidery in Cobble Hill was inaugurated as the BC Cider ÉconoMusée, marks the conclusion of the first phase of the ÉconoMusée British Columbia Artisans at Work pilot project.

Hazelwood Herb Farm offers a unique opportunity for visitors to see, smell and taste more than 400 different herbs cultivated and processed on site. The Herbalism ÉconoMusée site provides an interactive learning setting where the public can find out about the traditional and contemporary applications of the herbalism trade in the processing of culinary, beauty and medicinal products.

Preserving knowledge, sharing that knowledge and bringing more exposure to the use of herbs is the shared vision of Barbara Stevens and Mark Warrior, who purchased Hazelwood Herb Farm in 2010.

Hazelwood Herb Farm has been open to the public since the 1980s. Original owners Jacynthe Dugas and Richard White transformed a love of helpful plants in their Nanaimo backyard into a business when they relocated to this site in 1986, according to the SDECB. Their successful business initially provided nursery stock of unusual or important herbs, but this evolved into the production of a wide range of health, beauty, culinary and botanical plants and products.

When the opportunity came up to purchase the farm, Stevens and Warrior were already big fans of Hazelwood Herb Farm, explained Stevens.

“We live in the area and heard about it, and we came here and were just blown away,” she said. I was busy finishing my accounting degree and thinking ‘I guess I’m good at math so I should do this.’ When the opportunity came up, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I realized it embraced all my passions. Now I feel like I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.”

Stevens says Dugas is the one who started this process before she and Warrior bought the farm, and as Stevens and Warrior learned more about the ÉconoMusée concept, they embraced it wholeheartedly.

“We’re really excited about this process,” she said. “In taking over this farm, we always had it in mind that we wanted to share the information that we find so fascinating, and being involved in this project has given us the tools to be able to do that. It’s been able to bring that vision to life, and we never would have been able to do that on our own.

“Working with a team to bring this together was an amazing experience, and I think it brought the experience of coming here to a whole other level.”

The Island Coastal Economic Trust contributed about $46,000 toward the ÉconoMusée concept, and chair Phil Kent says the Trust was felt very strongly about supporting this project.

“We really do think it’s a wonderful concept and a way we can contribute to small business, to crafts, to people who are creating economic development in many, many small ways; it all adds up to very, very important things,” he said. “I want to congratulate everyone that’s been involved in these projects. Really, it’s taken a team effort; there’s no question about that, and I think it’s quite great to have B.C. as part of that ÉconoMusée concept across Canada.”