If you read my last entry talking about this year’s apple harvest at our family orchard, you know that I’m very grateful for our lifestyle and proud of our crop. But, the fruit we produce is far from the only reason I love this life so much. I’m a very family and community oriented person and running an orchard has been, and continues to be, an amazing way to connect with both my family and many others who I never would have otherwise had the pleasure to know.
Neal and I have three kids – two sons and a daughter. All three are now off to university and beyond, and while some parents look back and wish they’d had the opportunity to spend more time with their kids, I had plenty! Not that I wouldn’t want to spend as much time with them as possible, but raising kids while running an orchard meant that there was always plenty to do and every hand gets put to work. Getting to work closely with our children, especially in the beautiful outdoors, was not only a great way of teaching important lessons about hard work and dedication, but also an amazing way to get to know them better, for which I’ll always be thankful.
It’s not even just our kids, though – every year they would rope a few of their friends into coming to work on our orchard so we got to know them as well. Beyond that, we’ve had young Canadians from all over the country come to help us with thinning, pruning and harvest. The number of unique, enthusiastic and interesting individuals we’ve gotten to know this way is almost beyond count.
But, it’s hard to think of a more “interesting” and “unique” group than our own family and we’ve got a big one! Each year, smack dab in the middle of harvest, we have around 100 family members come to Summerland for Thanksgiving for what is always one of the highlights of our year. Having giant Thanksgiving get-togethers has been a Carter tradition for 60 years and the kids love nothing more than running around the orchard, making fresh apple cider and having a unforgettable feast!
The orchard life isn’t just a job for us, it’s at the core of who we are and the values we hold dear.