Laura Waters, from the district of Saanich in British Columbia, has combined entrepreneurial spirit with culinary creativity to concoct vinegars, dipping sauces and even sparkling drinks from Douglas fir needles.

Waters initially planted Douglas fir trees on her farm on Vancouver Island with the aim of selling them as Christmas trees. However, when mowing the grass between the trees, she started to wonder whether she could do something better with them. Waters was aware that indigenous people used the needles to brew tea, and this prompted her to research other potential uses for the needles from her Douglas firs.

As a result, Waters, who also sells her homemade cards, food and gift baskets through her shop, Snowdon House Gourmet & Gifts, has created a number of food products using fir needles. She bakes bread made from Douglas fir and juniper, and has developed a herb blend seasoning with Douglas fir that she says pairs well with goat cheese and cream cheese, and can be similarly spread on bread.

Waters has also created a ‘fir and fire’ dipping sauce that combines red and green chilli peppers with Douglas fir, which she uses to cook meatballs in.

This innovative entrepreneur has also crafted a range of vinegars using Douglas fir, including strawberry and fir, peach and fir, and blueberry and fir. She decided to create the vinegars to both showcase local fruit and so that she could use Canadian white wine vinegar, which does not contain sulphites.

Waters also created carbonated beverages using her fruity vinegars by simply adding carbonated water to them to create a variety of Douglas fir drinks.

Douglas fir needles enhance the flavour of other ingredients, she says: “When we add the fir to the strawberries to make the fir strawberry vinegar, they taste beyond the possibility for strawberries; it totally punches them to a different level.”

British Columbia has numerous programs in place to promote entrepreneurs and their endeavours and help them succeed. However, budding entrepreneurs need to acquire skills that can really make a difference, such as critical thinking, analytical skills, financial management and knowing how to seize opportunities.

Individuals can build these skills by acquiring a University Canada West (UCW) master of business administration (MBA) degree. The UCW MBA program is designed to encourage and develop student entrepreneurship, enabling students to embark on careers in which they become effective and efficient leaders who drive workplace success.