MILLVILLE, N.S. — A Cape Breton husband and wife are turning a rundown garden nursery property into a pastoral oasis.
Estelle and Tim Levangie purchased the keys to their Millville property eight years ago.
After a tremendous amount of hard work, the pair will now be participating in their first Open Farm Day on Sunday.
The Levangies met at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (now Dalhousie Agricultural Campus) in Truro, N.S., in the summer of 2007.
A native of northern France, Estelle was volunteering as part of a travel abroad program where she learned to speak English.
Tim, who grew up in East Bay, was at the college studying horticulture.
“I always wanted to come to Canada and I decided to go to Truro to the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, which is on the (Truro) campus and then Tim was working on the grounds landscaping,” said Estelle, who holds a master’s degree in agriculture.
The pair dated long distance until Tim graduated and moved to France for a year.
In 2009 Estelle decided to immigrate to Cape Breton where they developed a business plan that would see them buying roughly 40-hectares of property that was owned by the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board.
The former nursery was overrun with weeds and in desperate need of cleaning and repairs.
Finding little work in her field, Estelle decided she would dive into farming.
“That’s always what I wanted to do but not necessarily right away. It just ended up that way,” she said. “We really saw the potential in this place.”
The Levangies first focused on dairy sheep and went so far as to build an inspected milk parlour, but the dream was not meant to be.
After three years of bad luck with their flock, the pair switched to free-range chickens, along with pastured pork and beef.
Thyme for Ewe farm now operates a market garden and has three greenhouses for vegetables, herbs and ginger.
The Levangies sell their products through the Cape Breton Farmers Market, the Cape Breton Food Hub and through a recently opened store at their farm operating Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Tim began working full time in their fields about two years ago. They are also kept busy raising three boys aged six and under.
A recent achievement of the farm has been receiving organic certification from ECOCERT for their vegetables and herbs.
The couple say their focus is on growing sustainable high-quality food that is both nutritious and ethical.
“We’ve been building our market progressively,” said Estelle. “We’ve been growing as the demand kind of grew. At first, we didn’t sell meat at the market. It was only vegetables. We could produce more (meat) — we haven’t reached our potential — far from it. It’s just we have to make sure we can sell it first.”
On Sunday, the Levangies will be one of five Cape Breton farms participating in Open Farm Day.
Visitors will be given a tour of the farm located at 784 King Grove Road and are invited to pet some goats and pigs. The event at Thyme for Ewe runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There will also be a free-range chicken tasting at lunch with ginger tea.
According to the Levangies, they are currently producing about 1,200 chickens and around 30 pigs a year.
To find out about other farms participating in Sunday’s event, visit: