Innisfree Farm offers a tranquil oasis for an al fresco lunch

Lunch Buffetherb crusted lentil flan with garlic aioli zucchini bread gathered greens (mixed lettuces and wild herbs) with blueberry vinaigrette

afternoon tea $12.50 includes 3 baked treats and hot or iced herbal tea

plum tarte tatin quinoa chocolate lavender cupcakes with raspberry coulis (gluten free) Helen’s raspberry cake with raspberry coulis

or a single baked treat with hot or iced herbal tea for $5.00

iced tea of the day rose bergamot, spearmint and lavender

We thought we were just heading up to Royston’s Innisfree Farm for a nice Saturday lunch – who could resist a menu like the one posted above?

Lentil flan and zuchinni bread at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

It’s all about the food – delicious and healthy!

Innisfree in the past has held a few farmhouse dinners, which we have greatly enjoyed, so we were pretty sure that their new summertime Saturdays-only Green Dream Café would be a happy experience as well.  It most certainly was a delight, but for many more reasons than we expected.

Gluten-free quinoa chocolate cupcake at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Gluten free chocolate cupcake

Innisfree Farm is a 7-acre botanic garden that has evolved over the years to become a central meeting place for those dedicated to learning about and practising botanical medicine.  In the process of developing that concept Chanchal Cabrera and Thierry Vrain have created an oasis of calm at the terminus of a dead-end road in the tiny community of Royston, just south of Courtenay.  As I said earlier, we had been to Innisfree in the past but it was always during the fall and winter months when weather and darkness were closing in, which meant opportunities to explore the farm were limited.

Man sitting in Adirondack chair at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Sit and rest awhile – Innisfree is an inviting escape from the everyday world

Our summer excursion, however, offered a chance to wander the farm prior to lunch, taking in the huge oyster shell labyrinth, the peaceful pond, mowed paths bordered by high grass, a sculpture garden.  There were arrangements of chairs all over the place, inviting visitors to sit a while and simply enjoy the peace and quiet and listen to the sounds of nature. We trailed through the gardens and wandered through the wildly beautiful medicinal garden before ambling back to the rustic outdoor setting where the Green Dream Café was set up under cover.

Oyster shell labyrinth at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The huge oyster shell labyrinth

The lunch offering was simple but substantial, very healthy and extremely delicious. Each Saturday there is a different prix fixe menu with lunch priced at $15

View from long table lunch at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columtia

The view from our long table lunch

We began our meal with the individual lentil flans, served with a generous portion of excellent garlic aioli and a salad of mixed greens. A slice of delicious zuchinni bread served with a zingy herb butter accompanied the main course. The iced tea went down with a final hint of lavender.  – not too sweet, but flavourful.

Pond and Adirondack chairs at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Quiet places for contemplation are found all over the farm

The desserts all looked too tempting for words, and with good reason.  The choice of spiced plum cake with a plum coulis, raspberry cake with raspberry coulis and a gluten-free chocolate-lavender cupcake topped with lavender coconut frosting and accompanied by the raspberry coulis were all beautifully presented and a pleasure on the palate. The nice thing is that you get a choice of desserts, so if you are with friends you can share and savour the various flavours.  The raspberry coulis particularly was a hit – clean and fresh flavours of pure raspberry (one of Innisfree’s big crops) without an overbearing sweetness. The quinoa chocolate cupcake was my favourite – dense, very chocolatey and a big plus for a chocolate lover like myself.

Metal sculpture at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

One of the striking pieces in the sculpture garden

One of the other really charming things about lunch at Innisfree Farm is that you never know who you may end up talking to.  We enjoyed several pleasant conversations with both Innisfree staff and patrons – a not-unusual occurrence at long-table meals, and always very interesting.

Lunch setting with vintage rocking bench at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The intimate rural setting enhances the lunch experience at Innisfee

So, what started out as ‘just a lunch’ evolved into a delightful, relaxing occasion that made us eager to return.  Great, healthy food, gorgeous environs, friendly conversation and a tranquil, calm pace – it doesn’t get any better than that on a lovely summer afternoon.  If you go be sure to put aside enough time to enjoy the farm and all it has to offer, and be prepared to be drawn in to the quiet, measured tempo that permeates this special place.

Chairs on hillside at Innisfree Farm, Royston, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Another tranquil perch, on a hillside

The Green Dream Café is open on Saturdays from June through September, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you aren’t up for a full lunch, a simple repast of tea and sweet goods is also on offer.  Innisfree Farm also sells from its farm stand on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

            Further information about Innisfree Farm can be found at the website at:

            Menus for the Green Dream Café can generally be found on the farm’s Facebook page under Innisfree Farm

Price rating: $-$$

            Innisfree Farm is located at 3636 Trent Road, Royston

GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat.: 49.634777  Long.: -124.952089

N 49 38.087 W 124 57.125





About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.