By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
With an estimated 240,000 bulbs of garlic planted last year, Kipp Garlic, located just minutes from Coalhurst, is growing more than enough to keep the vampires at bay.
Owner and manager of Kipp Garlic, BertVan Hierden, estimated around 60,000 bulbs are grown per acre, and although the company is relatively new, is planning on growing even more from this point forward. Van Hierden said, “Last year we did four acres of garlic; we had expected a big crop, but of course, it was a little bit less. But this year, we’re probably doing more like six or seven acres.”
“The growing went really well until we got a hail storm,” said Van Hierden. A July 18 hailstorm impacted many farmers and crops in and around Lethbridge County. He said although the bulbs didn’t reach the size he had hoped for, Kipp Garlic still turned a crop for the 2022. He explained the bulbs themselves were unharmed underground, but, “the leafs all got damaged so we didn’t get the growth that we expected on the garlic, so we had a lot smaller crop.”
Van Hierden explained, unlike most crops which require spring seeding, the planting process takes place as harvest wraps up for most farmers.
“We plant in October for the next year, so then the garlic comes up first thing in the spring.”
The garlic grown is the Russian red variety, one which is common for the region and is “very well-received” by garlic lovers for its robust flavour and heartiness.
Kipp Garlic is rooted in family. “My daughter works here, and then I’ve got my grandsons and neighbour’s kids that are helping out when we get overloaded with work,” he explained.
”It’s something that we started two years ago and so this is our second season,” said Van Hierden, adding, “next year, hopefully we’ll have an abundant crop with good growing conditions. We’re just continuing to grow as a market dictates.” Van Hierden said at this stage, the operation primarily serves the Alberta market for wholesale and retail sales, but there is lots of opportunity for growth in the future.
Kipp Garlic is located at 222014 Township Rd. 94 Coalhurst, and has a self-serve garlic stand from direct cash purchases open Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit kippgarlic.com.