Yesterday, I visited the only tea farm in all of Canada. The Tea Farm as it is appropriately called might seem quixotic even in the agreeable climate of the Cowichan Valley but to me it represents the perfect example of personal vision; how, through hard work, focus and determination a dream can be transformed into a reality.
Victor and his wife, an outstanding potter, began their venture as a tea shop, mixing imported teas and serving them in a rustic building nestled at the bottom of a steep hill. The little valley is a perfect micro climate and now the slope of the hill contains over 800 tea plants. Tea – both imported and (soon) home-grown – is served in the tea shop (which includes a small gallery for showing and selling local artists’ work) or on a patio overlooking flower gardens, wetland, forests and raspberry patches. The pots and cups are all made in their own kiln and Victor is an affable host, clearly engaged in his chosen calling.
Not satisfied to simply serve infusions, The Tea Farm has been exploring tea-based cuisine, serving a multitude of extraordinarily tasty desserts – each combining a tea variety with chocolate, ice cream and various fruit based syrups and waters. Though I’m not an avid tea drinker myself, I did enjoy a liquorice and orange herbal beverage and worked my way through a tea flavoured chocolate cake (while sampling a torte and some amazing ice cream). The tea lovers in our party raved about the complexity and variety of flavours and my wife left with a trio of packages of tea.
Quite apart from the delight of the outing (the weather cooperated with sunshine and warmth) I was entranced by the energy and enthusiasm of this young couple. It was clear that they were not driven by the desire for profit – every reasonably priced dessert was filled with high quality ingredients and their location (tucked in the forest down a narrow gravel road) could hardly be expected to generate large numbers of drop by traffic. While clearly they are trying to make a go of it economically, it is equally clear that they love what they are doing.
It reminds me of the dedication and drive I see so often in the art community. Driven by passion and curiosity, artists strive to turn their vision into a way of life. This, perhaps, is why people – stranded in more mundane jobs or less risky ventures – sometimes think artists don’t need to be paid. But that’s because they miss the point. Artists absolutely want to be rewarded for their efforts. The creation of art out of nothing is as quixotic as growing tea in Canada but still no less a business than it is an act of love.
And that’s ten minutes.