By Paula Roy –
They say necessity is the mother of invention. In Pam Midgley’s case, it may have taken a generous helping of serendipity as well. As she and her husband were raising three sons – now all in their 20s – this Westboro mom found herself making a lot of granola. “Granola was an essential part of my culinary repertoire to keep my very active family fuelled.” Little did she know that one day she’d be selling it under the Westboro Granola Co. label.
Having previously co-owned a bookstore called The Sports Page, Pam also worked as a primary school teacher prior to staying home to raise her family. She wasn’t looking for a new career, but several months ago her middle son – while eating a bowl of granola – told her that since she loved making granola so much, she should start a business. “It really struck me as a great idea that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of before, and his suggestion came at the perfect time. That too was serendipitous,” she says.
In just two months, Westboro Granola Co. was up and running, with Pam’s recipe being handcrafted in multiple batches every week, using a lengthy process that involves a lot of stirring and rotating of trays. She readily admits that hers is the kind of granola that those who appreciate quality would make for themselves, but notes that because it is a time-consuming process, not everyone does it.
“My goal was to have a ratio that was just right; I wanted just 50% rolled oats plus 50% other good stuff including coconut, pecans, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and more, with only pure Canadian maple syrup as a sweetener,” she explains. “I make it the way I love it because I wouldn’t want to offer anything less to others. So many times, I have eaten this granola, and thought to myself, this is great granola, which is why that phrase is on the label.”
Pam’s granola is doing more than nourishing families; it’s also raising funds for the Bethany Hope Centre. “I needed a licensed commercial kitchen in which to prepare my product and as soon as I toured the facility I knew it was a perfect fit not only as a workspace for me but also as a charitable partner, which I’d also been seeking,” she explains. As if she needed any more serendipity, when touring the kitchen, Pam discovered that they were actually making their own granola at Bethany Hope Centre as part of the cooking lessons and meals offered there to help enrich the lives of young parent families.
An avid runner, cyclist, swimmer and cross-country skier, Pam applies the same kinds of hands-on attention to her marketing and distribution that she does to granola-making. On her daily running route through the community, she stops at her Westboro-area retailers, which include Produce Depot, Westboro Pharmasave and the Herb and Spice to check on inventory and even straighten up the display, making her way back to these stores very soon after with additional product as needed. “I’m working my way up to longer distance runs so I can check in at Seed to Sausage on Gladstone regularly as well,” says Pam, who will also be selling her product this summer at the Night Market on Fox and at the Main Street Farmers’ Market.
Pam is still on the lookout for a few more retailers for her granola as she feels confident she has the capacity to increase production. “Westboro Granola Co. is still very much a one-person enterprise but my husband Dave Taylor has taken on the title of CFO (Chief Fun Officer) and he’s been very supportive since I made the decision to embark on this fulfilling venture,” she says. “I can say with genuine enthusiasm that it’s absolutely more fun than work and I think that’s because it’s the right business at the right time in my life. It is so humbling to see how many people are enjoying it and it feels so good to satisfy people’s hunger for good, wholesome homemade food.”
Pam notes that without the generosity of neighbourhood friends, it is unlikely that she would be running her own business now, making granola. “For years, I used a recipe that originated with one of my granola-making friends, but I knew it had to be modified because it wasn’t truly my recipe. As I made changes, everyone at home was delighted to offer taste testing services!”
If you need any further proof of Pam’s joyful spirit and the determination she has for her business to succeed, check out her very active @westborogranolaco on Instagram, where you’ll find playful shots of bags of granola posed in locations all over town.