If you’re a frequent visitor to the site, you know that in addition to being president of Okanagan Specialty Fruits, our founder Neal Carter also has his own family-run apple and cherry orchard. How does he manage to run both the company and orchard you ask? With plenty of help from his better half, Louisa Carter! Louisa was kind enough give us an inside look at her favourite time of year – apple harvest at the Carter orchard:
When shoppers grab an apple or two at the grocery store, they casually throw them in their baskets and move along to one of the twenty other things on their list. Little do they know how much care, anxiety and hard work go into each and every piece of fruit!
Neal and I work long hours during harvest season, getting the pickers into the orchard just as soon as it’s warm enough out and we generally finish the day around dinner time with 25-40 bins depending on the variety. We may have a small farm, but still, every one picks at least 10,000 apples a day! Every single one is carefully picked from the tree by hand with the utmost care not to bruise them. While that may not seem like fun for many, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
We’re the type of growers who are out there in the orchards doing nearly every job ourselves (when we can’t get our kids to do them anyway!), including the not-so-fun ones like manually turning on sprinklers and pruning thousands of trees in the cold of winter. It really is a year-long process but it’s during harvest that we really know it’s so worth it!
Our harvest this year began on Sept. 15th and I took the “doing it ourselves” creed to a new level. While I already knew I was going to be trying something new this year by driving the tractor and forklift instead of picking, I didn’t know I was going to have to turn mechanic too! On just the second day of the season, with Neal out of town, a hydraulic hose broke on the tractor. I am very proud to say that with zero prior experience I was able to fully repair it completely on my own and saved the day!
Speaking of being proud, that is definitely the best word to describe the feeling I have when I admire our beautiful crop. This year in particular has been absolutely amazing with some of the best weather and the best apples we’ve ever had. We know we’re producing something nutritious and tasty and that families all over will love eating them almost as much as we enjoy growing them.