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East end farm embraces the arts

Glocca Morra Farms is a familiar sight to anyone driving along Highway 15 near the 401.

Initially, people pull in to check out the luscious fruit and vegetable stand on the east side. Along with the produce, there are enchanting fairy gardens and fabulous plant arrangements. A little further in, folks find the greenhouse and discover they can bring their own empty containers in and Glocco Morra Farms will design and assemble customized planters for them.

What people may not realize is the whole property spans across both sides of Highway 15. In addition to this, the business doesn’t just offer farming goodies.

That’s where Rhonda Evans comes in.

“I was a graphic artist marrying into a farming family,” says Evans. “As I was planning my honeymoon, both my in-laws had catastrophic health events and permanently left the farm within four days of each other. The Doyle family has been farming this land for 150 years. Suddenly my new husband and I were farmers and that has evolved.”

At first, Evans continued working as a graphic artist while her husband, Pat Doyle, worked the dairy farm. However, when they started a family, she realized working off the farm wouldn’t offset the cost and strain of childcare.

Upon giving birth to two daughters one year apart, Evans and Doyle also decided to build a new house as opposed to living in the original farmhouse that Doyle, Doyle’s father and his grandfather grew up in. Now teenagers, the girls frequently work the farm stand and are the sixth generation to work on the land.

Meanwhile, the old farmhouse was converted into more workspace for the family business.

“Now it’s a kitchen for the food truck prep and an art studio where we can offer regular workshops," says Evans. "I apply my background in design to everything I do: even the products of the Glocca Morra food truck are art."

Evans grew up in a family that ran a restaurant and she’s always had her finger in the pot. As a child, she would drop by after school and pitch in. When the opportunity presented itself for her to buy a food truck, she jumped on the chance.

Altogether, in addition to working the land (they sold the dairy license, but still breed calves and cultivate crops), the family has the farm stand, greenhouse, Christmas trees and wreaths in the barn, the Glocca Morra Grill (food truck) and a workshop studio.

When asked how Evans came to establish a studio in the farmhouse, she replies: “People have always asked me for workshops so I started with food preparation and canning and such. Then I reconnected with my good friend from graphic arts college, Adele Webster, and together we started offering a variety of crafts workshops.”

Listening to Evans, you can hear the lilt of the Newfoundland roots in her voice. As she talks, she gets more passionate about her work. Ultimately, she’s talking a mile a minute and can barely contain herself: “Between the two of us and our network of resources we can offer just about anything. For example, when I taught rug hooking we also reached out to an expert rug maker so that clients could see what is ultimately possible. We’ve taught essential oils, string art, watercolour, wood-burning, jewelry making, rug hooking, wreath-making, felting, floral arrangement, you name it.” Finally she throws her hands up in the air, exasperated at all the possibilities. “What do you want to do? We’ll do it!”

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