Edmonton family cancels overseas move due to COVID-19, starts B.C. flower farm instead

·2 min read
Katy Splane and her family left Edmonton during the pandemic to start a flower farm in B.C. They had previously hoped to move to Thailand. (Supplied by Katy Splane - image credit)
Katy Splane and her family left Edmonton during the pandemic to start a flower farm in B.C. They had previously hoped to move to Thailand. (Supplied by Katy Splane - image credit)

The pandemic has forced some people to make big life changes.

One Edmonton family was on the verge of moving to Thailand for work, but the plan was squashed due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Instead, they started a flower farm in B.C.

Before the pandemic, Katy Splane was teaching at a local Edmonton school. Her husband, Rich, was working in construction. The two were planning to move to Bangkok for similar work, along with their three children.

With the global outbreak of COVID-19, the family was no longer confident in the international move and the difficulties of a long quarantine.

"Mostly with all of the unknowns about being away, particularly from our families for long stretches of time," Splane said recently on CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.

Instead, the family decided to drive almost 1,000 kilometres to Oliver, B.C., in the southern Okanagan, to start a new life.

While her husband stayed in Edmonton for work, mom and the kids moved into a camper van and started to grow and sell flowers.

The idea took root after Splane started to follow different influencers on social media who were posting about annual plants, which only grow for one season, compared to perennials that return yearly.

"I'd avoided them [annuals] to be honest, because they felt kind of finicky and unpredictable," said Splane, 42.

Suppled by Katy Splane
Suppled by Katy Splane

She has grown flowers in the past for fun and helped friends with garden designs, but this is the first time it has become a job.

"It's been a pretty intense learning curve," Splane said.

"But I love growing things and the creative aspects of it."

It was chilly this spring when the family moved into the cramped camper van. Since then, the Okanagan has suffered heat wave after heat wave with temperatures going beyond 40 degrees.

The air is intensely smoky as dozens of nearby fires burn, and the hot weather is expected to continue.

"I guess you could say, there are still moments where I am still evaluating my decision," said Splane.

"That being said, the Okanagan is a magical place to be. It's always such a pleasure to find ourselves outside, surrounded by growing things, fruits and vegetables and people who are also appreciating and enjoying the outdoors regularly."

Suppled by Katy Splane
Suppled by Katy Splane

During the pandemic, thousands of Canadians have packed their bags and moved from large urban centres into rural areas, according to Statistics Canada.

In a summer series, CBC Edmonton is speaking with people that have undertaken major life changes during the pandemic. Last week, Radio Active spoke to an Edmonton couple who decided to ditch long-distance marriage and finally live together in the U.S.

"This pandemic has made me re-evaluate what I want to do with the next 45 years of my life," said Splane.














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