Scattered throughout Quebec are artisans who manage to maintain the traditional way of the artisan, both in the areas of food and products. It is about small family businesses and perpetrating traditional knowledge —the farmer who makes the cheese, the glassblower or the cider maker. All are artisans who treat their business as part of their life, part of their art.
Éconmusée® is a for-profit craft or agrifood business that uses authentic, traditional productions techniques or know-how and in a living environment showcases artisans by opening up their workshops to the public for a unique and genuine learning experience. It is also about being bi-lingual and providing service in French as well as English.
One such family-run business is the Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery.
On September 30, the Éconmusée Artisans and Work pilot project launched at the farm on West Coast Road with a ribbon cutting and small reception.
The Éconmusée Artisans at Work project is supported by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and the B.C. Francophone Affairs program.
B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick was on hand to extend congratulations to owners Dana LeComte and Bob Liptrot.
Litnick talked briefly about the economic downturn in 2008 and the economic growth seen in the impact of trade with China.
“Looking further east to China… they have a big impact on what we do in B.C…. they are part of the future and with .13 billion people they are looking for more and more of our goods,” said Litnick. He also said being bi-lingual would bring more tourists and tourist dollars to their door.
“The Éconmusée Artisans at Work pilot project at Tugwell Creek is an excellent way to experience one of the oldest arts of fermentation and the diversity of B.C’s agricultural products,” said Litnick.
Other speakers were Maja Tait, representing Mayor Wendal Milne, and JdF Area Director Mike Hicks, as well as Donald Cyr, executive director of SDECB.
“It’s been two long years,” said Dana LeComte. “It’s a really incredible concept.
“Joining the Éconmusée program shows we have the credentials to offer visitors a polished and educational experience. They will come to Sooke to learn more about bees, the environment and mead, how it’s made and the history of it. We expect this to benefit our business by elevating us to being known as the local experts of beekeeping and mead production in our area.”
Bob Liptrot, who has been a avid beekeeper for most of his life said it was all thanks to his million-and-a-half employees.
“Without them none of this would be possible,” said Liptrot. “The bees do in fact make a lot of what goes on in agriculture possible. They are our employees and we value them.”
As far as what being the third Éconmusée in B.C. means and what this does for Tugwell…
“This gives tourists an educational experience that is even more memorable when they visit. It connects us to a workdwide network of artisans at work and we all work with Éconmusée to promote the network. It establishes Tugwell as the experts in mead making and beekeeping in our area and it enhanses my and Bob’s passion for education on bees, ecology, and mead as a foundation for our business,” said LeComte.
Established in 2003, Tugwell Creek was the first meadery to open its doors in Western Canada and joined the Éconmusée Artisans at Work network in 2014. Visitors there will get to experience first-hand the art of beekeeping and will learn all about how mead is made, from the collection of the honey through to the fermentation process. It will be a complete learning experience from beginning to end.
Two other pilot sites were established on Vancouver Island, Merridale Cider and Hazelwood Herb Farm, both in the Cowichan Valley.