Moncton urban farmers celebrate local with 'extreme' garden
Jeremie Caron and Sarah Hicken are proud of their 3-metre tall tomato plants and giant peppers
When Sarah Hicken and Jeremie Caron decided to start a raised bed and container garden in their Moncton backyard, Hicken knew that with only about 1,000 square feet, they would have to be creative.
"I just wanted some carrots, some parsnips, a couple beets, maybe some green beans," Hicken laughed.
"Jeremie came out as the hero ... he just went to the extreme."
Caron said their garden "blew up out of proportion" over the summer, with three-metre-high tomato plants, which he estimated were still loaded with 32 kilograms of tomatoes in the final week of September.
Even though it is a huge amount of work, including two hours of watering every night, Caron thinks it's doable for anyone.
"I really, really like it. I can relax and do my thing and when I get shut down by darkness I go inside and I wait until the next day," he said.
Garden stand offers 'veggies for free'
It quickly became obvious that their north-end garden was producing much more than the couple could use, so they decided to share it with their neighbours.
"We thought, we just can't let these go to waste so one Saturday we built a vegetable stand ... and now we harvest our supper every night and then whatever's left we just put up a little sign, 'Veggies for free.'"
The couple says people were nervous at first to take the peppers, tomatoes and carrots but soon got comfortable.
"I'm outside every night so every time it's like, 'Thank-you very much guys ... loved last week's tomatoes,' so it's really fun," Caron said.
We have peppers the size of both of your hands combined together, they're huge.- Jeremie Caron
Hicken said while Caron was outside working, she started posting pictures and videos on their Instagram account, Urban Farmer Canada.
"I just can't hang out in the house so I come out with my phone and start snapping pictures — we learn so much from Instagram and YouTube that we just started posting and then the community sort of all comes together," she said.
Caron wants to be 'the pepper guy'
Caron said as soon as it gets cold, the couple will set up a grow tent and start experimenting with microgreens.
Next summer they already have plans for some new raised beds and Caron, who grew up around farming in Grand Falls, hopes to also buy his own tractor.
"It's a goal — I always was around tractors when I was a kid and I always said to everybody, 'You want to give me something? Get me a tractor.'"
Caron's long-term goal is to be known as "the pepper guy" of New Brunswick.
"We have peppers the size of both of your hands combined together, they're huge. We had nine kinds of peppers, we have mixed peppers of mild and hot jalapenos," he said.