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Gravery Farms stresses the unique

What do you get when you combine a cucumber with a melon?

The Hewitson Family Tim and Jen Hewitson with Grace and Avery

If you don’t know the answer to that, you would not be alone. But, if you do know the answer, you know that these small bite-size cucamelons are tasty members of the cucumber family that look like a miniature watermelon.

Gravery Farms, located on the southern outskirts of Wash, is the place to experience cucamelons, and other unique fruits and vegetables. This farming operation is combined with the Barntique, which is a Canadian handmade artisan boutique.

When Tim and Jen Hewitson started Gravery Farms, they named the operation after a combination of their children’s names: Grace and Avery.

This is the third year they have been operating the farm, and the fourth year for the Barntique. The Hewitsons came to farming without any direct experience. Tim’s parents had green thumbs and his grandfather was a hobby farmer and electrical engineer by trade. Having the time and space, Tim thought he would give it a try.

“You can get produce in every corner in Norfolk,” he said. “I grow a bunch of varieties you can’t get elsewhere.”

A drywall contractor by day, Tim learned to be a farmer at night and on the weekends.

The variety of fruits grown is unique. The watermelons include orange and yellow seedless varieties. Different honeydews and cantaloupe are grown, including French melons. Some of the varieties are smaller while others are sweeter and darker fleshed. The variety in tomatoes is even greater: purple Cherokee heirloom, tomatillos, green zebra heirloom, larger beefsteak, sauce tomatoes, black cherry tomatoes and yellow. Other unique fruits and vegetables are: ground cherries, brussel sprouts, okra, and a variety of hot peppers. Besides pickling cucumbers and field cucumbers, Tim grows the more unique white cucumber.

“Everyone who tried it, loved it,” he said.

The trend of unique coloured vegetables continues with white beats, candy cane beets, golden beets, purple carrots, purple and orange cauliflower, yellow carrots and scarlet cabbage.

Upping the challenge even more for a new farmer, Tim made the decision to go with little spray. “I am not into spraying so I struggle with brassicas and caterpillars,” he said.

Tim does use some organic sprays for caterpillars and beetle traps. He stressed he is not officially organic but tries to keep spraying to a minimum.

“It takes a long time trying to figure how to deal with these things,” he said.

One plan for next year is to add a patio featuring the produce grown on the property and other local fare.

“There will be all sorts of different foods, wood-fired pizza ovens,” Tim said, adding the plan is to hire a chef and obtain a liquor license to serve local wine and beer.

Down the road, Tim said the goal is to have their own brewery or winery.

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