Farming roots run deep

 Sara and Troy Harker receive the B.C. Outstanding Young Farmers Award at the B.C. Ag Gala last month in Abbotsford from Canadian Outstanding Young Farmers president Derek Janzen (left) and B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judy Guichon (right). - Photo submitted
Sara and Troy Harker receive the B.C. Outstanding Young Farmers Award at the B.C. Ag Gala last month in Abbotsford from Canadian Outstanding Young Farmers president Derek Janzen (left) and B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judy Guichon (right).
— image credit: Photo submitted

A huge congratulations to  Sara and Troy Harker from Harker’s Organics in Cawston who have been named B.C.’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2013. Troy and Sara represent the fifth generation on the Harker family farm located in the beautiful Similkameen Valley where Troy’s great great grandparents settled in the mid 1800s.  Sara is also from a local farming family and grew up in Oliver where her grandparents immigrated from Hungary in 1956.

“On behalf of myself, Troy and the entire team at Harker’s Organics and Rustic Roots Winery, we are very excited and honoured to have received this award,” said Sara.

“We are elated to be representing our province and competing at the national competition in the fall.  It is our goal to showcase our region and our passion for sustainable, organic, family farming.  We want to show the rest of the country how our region has created a sustainable, secure food system, and how that can be modeled in other areas.”

Troy and Sara joined the operation in 2006, then comprising only an organic farm, retail market and small organic packing and distribution service. They saw the need for diversification.

They responded by adding the restaurant delivery program, which now serves 25 restaurants in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Sara became winemaker for Rustic Roots, their fruit winery which has given the Harkers and their fellow organic growers a rewarding outlet for their cull fruit. They are slowly converting their orchard to high-density plantings and now have two acres of Honeycrisp apple trees in a two-foot-by-10-foot super-spindle production system. Their wholesale packing business has also expanded and now distributes organic fruit and vegetables from 25 organic growers with a total of 550 acres of production.



From the heart

Spring is in the air. February is the month when we catch a whiff of what lies ahead and begin to dream of warmer days, spring flowers and (arguably) the best side of life in the Okanagan.

In celebration of these happy thoughts, February also brings us a day to celebrate love in all its forms.  For instance, chocolate love!

The Westside Wine Trail has planned their second annual “Sip with Your Sweetheart” event, in celebration of Valentine’s Day and decadent chocolate and wine pairings carefully crafted by local chefs, bakers and sommeliers. Participating wineries will be treating guests with complimentary wine and chocolate tastings from noon to 4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to start at either end of the trail, either on Glencoe Road or Boucherie Road, to pick up a copy of the program, including a route to enjoy all of the participating wineries which include: Beaumont Family Estate Winery, Kalala Organic Estate Winery, Little Straw Vineyards, Meadow Vista Honey Wines, Mission Hill Family Estate, Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery, Quails’ Gate Winery, Rollingdale Winery and Volcanic Hills Estate Winery.


Wow your sweetheart with a romantic wine-paired dinner whilst being serenaded by local musician Ari Neufeld at beautiful Hester Creek Winery.  The $95 cost includes a beautiful Tuscan-style dinner prepared by chef de cuisine Natasha Schooten of Terrafina Restaurant with wine pairings plus entertainment.  Reception is at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Call 250-498-4435 to book a night of romance in wine country (make it even more special by booking a room at their luxurious Villa above the winery).



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