William Hayward may peddle Whistler’s best muffins and a sesame-based vegetable seasoning that makes any one of his organic vegetables seem like a treat, but there is more to unearth behind this seemingly ordinary farmer.
Just look at his Swiss chard to fully comprehend the scope behind his shovel. Instead of the run of the mill blaze of green, rainbow colours stem from the leafy vegetable in vivid blues, yellows and even pink.
He explains each colour must be grown in isolation to retain the vibrant pigment. The seed sprouting this Rainbow Brite food was the product of Hayward’s past and present life.
He currently works an organic farm with his partner Mojave Kaplan on Stein Mountain, 17 km northwest of Lytton. The B.C. Certified Organic board member lives without electricity and running water. His convection oven is run on propane and his creative farming on science. While he’s now a farmer, Hayward first took root in science working in plant and animal genetics. However, he fled his concrete world in search of something “more real” — a plot of land where the priorities are growing food and sharing with others.
“I developed a moral responsibility to the soil, Mother Earth,” he explains, sharing with me a rare treasure in Whistler.
You have to visit Hayward’s kiosk when the Whistler Farmers’ Market first opens Sunday at 11 a.m. in the Upper Village — providing ingredients are in season — to make the rare find of Hayward’s peach and raspberry muffin.
I am shopping more than a couple of hours into the market, and Hayward’s muffin baskets wield only crumbs. However, he pulls out Whistler’s equivalent of the Grail and in keeping with his two driving principles, breaks off a piece of the prized muffin to share with me.
Normally, I am too polite to accept a second offer of someone sharing his or her lunch with me, but I made an exception. Normally, I hate muffins. The bready lumps feel weighty in my stomach and so dry, if not in an almost cupcake state on the other end of the spectrum, I plaster them in butter to make them somewhat palatable.
No butter required with Hayward’s fruity concoctions, and they are healthy to boot. No sugar. No dairy. No wheat. No eggs. No animal byproducts, leaving a wide-open space to make room for flavour.
What many people might not know is that when they are biting into these summer heavens, literally every grain in the spelt flour-based baked good is made with love.
Hayward and his partner grow the spelt grain and harvest and mill it by hand. Stevia, a sugar supplement, is also homegrown — along with almost every other ingredient found in the prized seasonal recipes of banana-coconut, plum-apple and chocolate (and Bernard Callebaut chocolate to boot) muffins.
Knowing so much work and care goes into these muffins, you can’t help but slow down your consumption process to appreciate the work, dedication and love that surrounds everything found at Hayward’s kiosk.
Along with home-baked muffins, cookies and scones, Hayward also sells organic produce. One of Hayward’s 20 different varieties of tomatoes won the Vancouver Tomato Festival — one of his customers entered his tomatoes unbeknownst to Hayward. The Lytton farmer attributed the win to the glacier-fed Stein River water he irrigates his crops with.
While an award-winning tomato deserves to be eaten like an apple, top it with Hayward’s homemade Japanese-inspired gomashio, a roasted sunflower seed and sea salt mixture sprinkled on top, and the tomatoes, or any vegetable for that matter, gets even better.
While most farmers grow everything for product, Hayward instead grows for seed. He has sprouted more than 17 lines of Stevia. Carrot seeds extend beyond the traditional Bolero orange carrot, with seed packages at his stall bearing names like Scarlet Nantes carrots and Purple Dragon carrot — all created on the 10 acres of land worked by hand.
So keep your eye pealed for the mad scientist with a green thumb at the market and his E is equal to m c- squared products where energy is equal to the homegrown, homemade mass results.