Brad DeMille, owner of DeMille’s Farm Market, is driving 2,200 kilometres to sunny California to pick up another load of hand-picked satsuma oranges from his cousin’s farm. DeMille’s already sold 8,000 pounds of the oranges in 30 days. (Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap farm market owner picks up oranges in California

Brad DeMille travels to U.S. to bring another 8,000 pounds of satsumas from family farm

The owner of DeMille’s Farm Market in Salmon Arm, Brad DeMille, is off on another 2,200 kilometre trip to sunny California, having sold eight tons of sweet satsuma oranges in the past 30 days.

This will be his second four-day road trip to the farm his grandpa Ralland DeMille bought when he moved to the sunny state 20 years ago.

“Grandpa planted two acres of satsumas, a derivative of the old Japanese oranges that we used to get as kids,” says DeMille, noting they are very tender and don’t ship well as they tend to crack. “Since I am taking care of them, when we put them in the truck we put them in very carefully.”

He says many orchards in California use an “umbrella method” and are shaken out of their trees.

Orchardists wait till the preferred level of sweetness is reached in at least 50 per cent of oranges of the tree, DeMille says, noting that after they fall, 50 per cent of the fruit stays in the neighbourhood, 25 per cent is shipped and the remaining 25 per cent becomes a component of citrus cleaner.

“So we’re a notch above lemon cleaner,” DeMille laughs, explaining the process is very different in his late grandpa’s orchard, now operated by his cousin Russell and wife Laura and Ramon, the lead hand on his grandfather’s farm, who continues to manage the orchard. “He bought the farm when Grandpa bought the farm!”

Related: Video: Ice rink at DeMille’s to be bigger and better than last winter

These satsumas are handpicked and hand-selected. Pickers go into the patches over a two-month period and pick them as they ripen, a process he says compares favourably with the handpicking that takes place on Okanagan orchards and makes for better fruit in the marketplace.

Every orange is handpicked, and snipped so the calyx is properly removed so the point doesn’t poke into the other oranges, says DeMille, explaining that a couple of years ago, he helped out in the orchard, taking seven hours to pick 1,000 pounds.

“We started selling these eight years ago; we brought 500 pounds and we thought that was a lot; now we’re on the road to 16,000 pounds this year,” he says. “Every year it seems to double, people are becoming more aware about what they put in their bodies.”

His most constant driving companion has been his father-in-law, Bill Wood, someone he describes as an excellent driver who allows DeMille to get a couple of hours of sleep before taking the wheel again.

“We drive 12 hours a day for four days, but we usually get a good eight hours sleep every night and we stop every couple of hours to stretch our legs,” he says.

Along with another 8,000 pounds of satsumas he will bring home on his orange odyssey that began on Saturday, Dec. 15, DeMille plans to bring back the first of the season’s navel oranges.

“They’re not stored, colour-dipped or eradicated and, last year, we sold 10 times more than the previous year,” he says.

And, in other news, DeMille’s outdoor skating rink in Salmon Arm will be operational this year, depending entirely on the whim of Mother Nature.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Three arrests on guns, drug charges after shots fired in Oliver

Two men from Penticton involved in arrests at Oliver home with assault rifles and drugs

Heads up, it’s fawning season in Penticton

Baby deer seen frolicking through downtown Penticton Wednesday afternoon

Okanagan School of the Arts evicted from Penticton’s Shatford Centre

The school faced massive revenue loss during the COVID-19 pandemic

Penticton RCMP express concern over allowing public drinking

RCMP said they expressed their concern to the city but will do their best ensure safety

WATCH: North Okanagan golf cart stolen, then returned

Homeowners have footage of two men taking the cart and then bringing it back

Police watchdog investigating fatal crash in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP received a report of a single-vehicle collision on Bulman Road near Highway 97 on June 1

Kelowna council greenlights ‘The Wedge’

The wedge-shaped building will be built at the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street

Vehicle stolen in Revelstoke recovered near Salmon Arm after occupants suffer overdoses

Police say they were alerted to the vehicle after occupants treated by ambulance after drug use

Province looks to seize Kelowna home owned by alleged drug trafficker

Michelle Collins and Nigel Byrne were also recently investigated by Kelowna RCMP for drug trafficking

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Highway 1 closed after body found near Hope

Coroners Service reportedly on the scene, highway has been closed for 10 hours in both directions

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Most Read