Friday, May 28, 2010

Cheap Apples at the James Bay Market Tomorrow

The BC Tree Fruit Growers are coming to the James Bay Farmer's Market to sell apples for $0.12 a pound.  I will be going down to buy some.

So why are they doing this?  

The cost of production of apples in BC is lower than the wholesale price they can get for the fruit.   This year they have been paid as little as $0.12 a pound for their fruit.

You can read more about it all on the facebook group and see their opinion piece in today's Times Colonist.

This is a big issue for me and has been so for many decades.

I grew up spending a lot time in the summers in the Okanagan.  I can remember as a young kid walking with my father through the orchard of Helmut von Hahn near Oliver.   My father and Helmut talked about what it took to run an orchard and how he was doing.   My father had wanted to be a farmer of some sort and I expect would have loved to have owned an orchard, but my mother had no interest in being a farmer's wife.

In my teens I spent four summers picking fruit in the Okanagan.   Two years for Brian Hardmann in Naramata and two years for the Hahns.   I asked a lot of questions about the economics of tree fruit growing and was trying to understand how it was possible to make a go of it when the costs seemed to be completely against you.

I remember in 1983 writing in the Hahns guestbook that I would try and solve the problem of why growers can not get a good return on their fruit.   27 years later and I have had a few chances to try and address the issue, but I have yet to see any big over arching answer for tree fruit growers in BC.

Organic production was a solution for some time, but the prices are not much better there any longer.   Selling retail to the public through farmer's markets is partial answer, but really only works on a small scale.  I really have no idea what the solution is.

If there was a solution, we could produce tonnes of apples on Vancouver Island on all that farm land that is sitting in hay or fallow.   The east coast of the island could easily produce as many apples as the Okanagan.

Take some time on Saturday to visit the Okanagan apple growers in James Bay and learn more about the issue.
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