Gratitude. One of the first feelings you have when you step onto the farm, is a feeling of warmth, and welcome. Whether you are young in age or at heart, Greendale Acres is a place that allows you to feel like a kid again. It’s a place to experience moments of joy, and memories that will last a lifetime. Well-known for their Corn Maze in the Fall, yet offering so much more, there truly is something for everyone. Where work ethic is measured in acres, not hours, where communities come together, and where traditions are born, Greendale Acres is excited to welcome you to their home, and family farm.
We met up with Vanessa, one of the owners of Greendale Acres, to talk about the history of their farm, fall fun, and great upcoming events!
Introduce yourselves! You’ve got a force of a team running the farm! Tell us a bit about your family.
Our farm is made up of five families, but we wouldn’t want it any other way! John and Diane Bruinsma are the founders (now Oma and Pake), they had four children including Danielle, Vanessa, Mariah, and Luke.
Danielle, Mariah, and I now help run the farm with our own families.
Tell us about the farm’s history. Where did it all start and the key aspects that got it to where it is today?
Before the corn maze was open our parents tried many things to keep the farm sustainable as it no longer was a working dairy farm. Most of our childhood we spent in the apple orchard, we grew apples and sold them on a roadside stand.
The Corn Maze first opened in 1999 making this our 24th season. When the Corn Maze first started our Dad was told by many people that he was CRAZY! Agritourism didn’t really exist at the time and it was the first Corn Maze in BC, maybe in all of Canada. Despite what everyone thought the idea took off and people were excited to have an experience on the farm.
Danielle, Vanessa, Mariah, & Luke (yes we have a brother! He is a dairy farmer in Saskatchewan and we miss him all the time!) grew up on the farm. We were young kids when it opened and we have fond memories of the early Corn Maze days, just a trailer and a field of corn! Since then we’ve seen the hard work and dedication it took to grow this business. Our parents and their business partners operated the business for 21 years together, in 2020 we purchased the business from them. Our 3 families are honored to carry on their beautiful legacy in this community.
What made you and your sisters decide to take over the farm as the next generation of farmers?
We all were busy in different walks of life and in different professions. We always helped on the farm, but my parents made sure we worked for a variety of other people starting at a very young age. All of our skill sets put together have allowed us to take over and flourish in different aspects on the farm. Danielle – Education, Vanessa – Marketing, Mariah – Food services. We all have our individual strengths that we have learned through the years through our own journeys in business.
Danielle went to school and received her teaching degree. She has worked for many years as a French immersion teacher in the Abbotsford School District. She went on to teach IB league French in Kuwait for 2 years. When her and Steve returned from the middle east Danielle, alongside Mariah, started The Habit Project in 2006.
Vanessa went to school for Communications and Public Relations. For 12 years she worked for Tourism Chilliwack in different roles including the Destination Marketing Manager. She has a love for floral design, flowers, and yoga.
Mariah went to UBC and graduated from their Land and Food Systems program while playing on the UBC woman’s volleyball team for 5 years. Additionally, she finished her holistic nutrition course. Upon graduating her background in health and wellness brought Danielle and Mariah to open The Habit Project, a cold-pressed juicing company and wellness brand that operated in Downtown Abbotsford.
You rebranded recently from the Chilliwack Corn Maze to Greendale Acres. What are some of the key pillars the Greendale Acres brand is built on?
The new name of our Farm is Greendale Acres. This decision was made so that we could expand beyond just the corn maze. Chilliwack Corn Maze is an iconic name in our community but it limited us to the Maze itself. We will always be the Chilliwack Corn Maze at Greendale Acres but it will allow us to expand to other adventures that we hope you follow along for! We are excited for our guests to be able to enjoy the farm through several seasons and not just one in the fall.
What does Greendale acres have to offer? What can people expect when visiting?
In addition to the corn maze Greendale Acres features; lavender fields, seasonal flowers, pumpkin patch, jumping pillow, rope obstacle course, bubble bar, pedal kart track, hay bale maze, corn sandbox, farm animal displays, farm carousel, garden & picnic areas, seasonal farm food, misting stations, ball zone, sandbox/kids playground area, antique farm machinery, fire pits, & much more!
Our goal is to create a fun and memorable farm experience for all of our guests. We want Greendale Acres to be a place where our guests feel like friends and family. Where the community comes together and traditions are born!
The rains coming, but the farm is still fun no matter the weather! Tell us a bit about the mud maze?
Most years, by the time late October comes around the pathways become very muddy due to our west coast rainy climate. We decided to embrace the mud and make it part of the challenge. We know the mud maze is not for everyone! This is why we have our short maze, because of the size we are able to keep it very well groomed with wood chips. This allows all guests to enjoy the maze even if they are not up for the mud challenge!
Our guests had so much fun with it last year. We even sent our own kids on the muddiest, rainiest day of the year!
Don’t worry, we have a boot washing station you can spray everyone down with at the end!
What’s next for Greendale Acres?
We have big dreams for the farm! We ask you to follow along our journey as we will share tidbits of changes along the way. We are blessed to have three very handy husbands, together we will carry our dreams forward and you will see this farm evolve yearly.
Can you tell us a bit about your life outside of Greendale Acres?
Family always comes first! Outside of work, we all have young children and each of our families enjoys spending quality time with them outside. During Maze season our whole life revolves around the business, but our kids are often on the farm with us at different times of the day.
When the farm is closed they are with us working in the field and doing other tasks to get ready for the season.
THIS OR THAT:
Cotton Candy or Kettle Corn?
Short maze or Long Maze?
Bubble bar or Bounce Pillow?
Lavender Lemonade or Apple Pie Screamer?
Apple Pie Screamer
Favourite Roasted Corn Seasoning?
Fireside Music Series or Meditation Mondays?
Oh… that is too hard lol!! We love them both too much!
OTHER FUN QUESTIONS:
What are some of your favourite local spots in Greendale or anywhere in Chilliwack?
Anita’s Organic, Local Harvest, Land Café & Studio, Rotary Trail, Bravo Restaurant.
Where do you find your retreat in Chilliwack?
The mountains, the river, and Chilliwack Lake
If your family were a season, what season would you be?
Anything else you’d like to share?
We will be opening in the spring for something special!!! Stay tuned for more!
Take in the full experience by visiting Greendale Acres this Fall, from their infamous Corn Maze (partnered with Science World this year!), pumpkin patch, delicious food and so much more.
Stop by for a visit and say hi to Vanessa, and the rest of the family at 41905 Yale Road West until October 31st, or check them out online at greendaleacres.ca.