You might say the Paseschnikoff family is busy as bees every summer while they sell their fresh produce and honey at local farmers markets.
Mom, Julie, who also works full-time as a nurse at St. Boniface Hospital, extends her family’s market garden, K & J Market Gardens, and apiary businesses, Bee Boyzz Honey, by also selling her homemade jams and jellies, under the Julia’s Jams & Jellies name at craft fairs.
Julie, 45, husband Kon, 46, who works for Air Canada, and children, Katarina, 19, Daniel, 14, and Gregori, 13, grow a wide variety of vegetables on their property at 4742 McGillivray Blvd. in the RM of Macdonald. Kon said they have 20 acres, but rent more land.
Beekeeping should come naturally to him as he said his surname means "beekeeper" in Russian. His parents left Austria for Venezuela, then immigrated to Canada in 1966. Wanting to continue their livelihood as market gardeners, they selected land in the RM of Macdonald.
Julie said she and Kon met when they were in their early 20s. A city girl, she got to know the country boy, who attended elementary school in Oak Bluff and high school in
Sanford, when Kon and his family were selling produce at Winnipeg’s Old Market Square.
The Paseschnikoff family is also a long-time vendor at St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, with Kon and his children now continuing that tradition every Saturday during the summer months.
At the same time, Julie, helped by her sister and father, runs a booth at the farmers market located south of the Red River Ex grounds on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
She also sells at the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ farmers market set up next to Manitoba Hydro Place (360 Portage Ave.) on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"It’s been very good for us," Julie said.
People who work in the nearby offices and those who live downtown are regular patrons at the downtown market as some don’t have vehicles and can’t easily get to the St. Norbert and Red River Ex markets.
In previous years, the Paseschnikoffs have also sold produce and honey at markets in Arnes, Man. and Kenora, Ont., but decided to concentrate on markets closer to home.
"Every market is different," Julie said. "You get to know what the people like best."
"I have to have purple carrots and purple cauliflower at St. Norbert," Kon said.
The higher number of vegetable growers selling at the popular market means the family needs to offer something different to catch customers’ eyes.
"It was Mom (Kon’s mother, Nina) who taught us what people want," Julie said.
She said her mother-in-law, who speaks seven languages, found out which vegetables and vegetable varieties are most used by different cultures in their traditional recipes.
Like other farmers, market gardeners go through good and bad seasons. Kon said this year started off badly with a late, wet spring. They had to reseed some of their crops.
The cool, wet weather also negatively affected the bees in their 85 hives. Julie said this month’s warm temperatures and drier conditions really helped the plants and bees to flourish.
It’s coming up to what Kon says is his favourite time of year.
"I love it when I see those Staples back to school commercials," he said.
The reason for this is that early fall is when many people buy large quantities of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables for pickling and preserving. This brings the crop year to an end.
"I’m always thinking about next year," Kon said.