Nicaraguan baker finds sweet spot in small town Sask. with saskatoon berry pies

Reyna Garcia slides her flour dusted hands into industrial oven mitts and draws back a batch of saskatoon berry pies.  The hunger-stirring scent wafting up from the tray is familiar to Garcia.  

Garcia makes an average of 160 saskatoon berry pies a day at Prairie Berries processing plant, located about 93 kilometres northwest of Regina. She can whip up close to 300 if she has an assistant to help milk-wash the crusts.

The demand for pies from Prairie Berries has quadrupled since Garcia began in the kitchen, according to Sandra Purdy, the company's chief operating officer.

"Everything she does has an air of perfection on it," Purdy noted. "She cares so much and she wants to do a good job —that's her secret."

Garcia said her secret is a little simpler.

"Make pies with love," she said with a chuckle. 

CBC

Garcia met her husband Melvin Sequeria about 17 years ago in a Nicaraguan bakery. They never imagined they'd trade sand for snow or pineapples for saskatoons, but a search for new opportunities brought them to Canada.

Sequeira began work at Prairie Berries in 2008 as a seasonal temporary foreign worker. Garcia came to work as a temporary foreign worker four years later.

She started harvesting berries and did manual work in the field.

Her role changed when a longtime baker was slated to leave the processing plant. Purdy brought Garcia into the kitchen and showed her how to make the pies. 

"My impression was 'Wow, I wish I could roll a pie dough that round when I make pies,'" Purdy said. It seems consumers have noticed, she said, nodding to the exponential grown. 

"That just goes to show you that she's a much better pie maker than I ever was."

As the pie output has expanded, so has Garcia's life in Saskatchewan. 

She and her husband obtained contracts and eventually became permanent residents. Sequeira and their three daughters Tatiana, Valeria and Angely all obtained their Canadian citizenship in the spring. Garcia is working on her English so she can obtain hers.

Kendall Latimer

The family of five settled in Moose Jaw after first living at the Purdy farm. 

Purdy said they are like family, adding the couple's children have become like grandkids for her as they've worked together.

Sequeria said learning English has been the hardest part, but learning to drive on the winter roads was a close second. He said he is proud of his wife who has taken on so much responsibility with the pies.

"Our life has changed, but it is good," he said.

Kendall Latimer/CBC