Excerpt from A wheelbarrow of melons


Jim Laceby looked out a window facing the vegetable garden behind his family home one day last
summer, to see his son Sean pushing a wheelbarrow of cantaloupe down the path towards the Blomidon Inn,
the Victorian-era inn that the Laceby family has owned and operated for nearly twenty years.

“I’m really impressed with the range of crops we can grow here,” Jim Laceby says of their Zone 5 b
vegetable garden. “I never dreamed that we’d be able to grow peaches here, or eggplant, or cantaloupes. It’s an
absolute pleasure to see my son harvesting melons with a wheelbarrow from the truck garden.”


Eggplants growing inside tires. Heritage varieties of tomatoes basking in the hot sunshine. A plethora of
herbs waiting to be harvested. All these and more are found in the Inn’s organic kitchen garden, where
enthusiastic gardeners use innovative planting techniques—and huge amounts of compost—to harvest a
cornucopia of flavours for their diners delighted palates.


Sean Laceby is the Blomidon’s chef, a role he says he “sort of fell into” because he had been around
cooking all his life. “My mother used to make me sit in the kitchen and watch her work when I was bad as a
kid,” he says wryly. After a two-year training program and some specialized courses, Sean was ready to step
into his role at the Inn. With that role comes the interest in the vegetable plot, although he ruefully admits he
doesn’t get to work in any area of the garden as much as he’d like to, “Or probably should. I do a little of the
weeding, and Dad and I select vegetable and herb transplants in the spring,” he says. “And of course I do a lot
of the harvesting.”


The Blomidon Inn is located in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in what is the agricultural heartland of the
province, the Annapolis Valley. Orchards and vineyards surround the villages and towns through the valley,
which also is home to many other types of food crop production as well as extensive beef, dairy and poultry
operations. As a result, Sean is able to utilize a wide selection of fresh, local meats, fruits, vegetables and herbs,
but he also enjoys trying his hand at growing a selection at the Inn.


“We like growing a lot of our own vegetables, and we make a wide variety of pickles to accompany
some of the Inn’s dishes,” he says. “It’s a nice break to be able to walk up to the vegetable garden and pick
tomatoes warm off the vine, and it’s also neat to send out dishes to the dining room featuring produce that was
growing that morning!”


Along with a selection of vegetables, berries and melons, the Inn’s gardens also produce an abundance
of herbs, and also edible flowers that Sean uses to garnish his culinary creations. Although they freeze and use
a wide selection of herbs, Sean’s favourite cooking herb is thyme, as its very scent surrounds him in memory.


“Thyme was one of the first herbs I was introduced to as a kid,” he says. “We used to go fishing with
my grandfather, and there’s nothing nicer than putting fresh thyme on a just-caught walleye.” Not surprisingly,
Sean Laceby has a passion for cooking with herbs and game, and recently produced a wild game cookbook in
conjunction with renowned photographer Sherman Hines.