Okanagan farm turns fruit into drink production

Okanagan farm turns fruit into drink production

When residents support Farming Karma, they support local orchardists

Karma and Kuku Gill have been farming in the Okanagan for the last 25 years, but their children weren’t as keen to continue the family business, as is. They wanted to innovate, expand, help their parents build on years of hard work.

Avi, his wife Binny and his younger brother Sumeet decided to use the fruits their parents already cultivated to make something new — fruit soda.

Binny said the reason for the new venture was to help stabilize the family’s income after they saw the financial uncertainties farmers faced.

“Some years are great and others, not so much. But we wanted to do this because then we can grow our own fruit, we turn it into a product which we then can have some control over what the retailer is marking it up for,” she said.

READ: Okanagan cherries in jeopardy due to above-average rainfall

Avi said they started with apple soda, first selling it at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market. Eight months later, their apple soda can now be found in 400 grocery stores across the province, including Safeway, Buy-Low, Thrifty Foods, Save-On-Foods, Your Independent Grocer, and Nesters Market. Soon, they’ll be releasing cherry and peach sodas as well.

He said it was the support of local residents and local retailers that set him and his family on the right path.

“I don’t think we’d ever give up-selling and going to the farmers’ market. That’s where we really get to interact with our local community members, who have been awesome and encouraged us to stick with it while we were figuring out the formula,” he said.

“Outside of the farmers’ market, we started out with Peter’s Your Independent Grocer. Peter is awesome and he really mentored me. He actually helped me get from the production side of things into retail, pointing out who to talk to and what kinds of conversations I needed to have.”

READ: ‘Underwhelming’ support for agriculture industry: BC Fruit Growers’ Association

Besides the fruit soda, Avi, Binny and Sumeet also launched a tasting bar at the family’s McKenzie Road property. But just as they were ready to open, COVID-19 hit, affecting not just the tasting bar’s performance, but the sales in grocery stores as well.

“The thing is, we just have to roll with the punches. It’s been difficult because we’ve had our store closed for the majority of (the pandemic) and even when things started loosening up, we’d rather err on the side of safety so we’ve been cautious with opening,” Avi said.

Karma said the younger generation’s new venture is exciting, but he said local farmers need help from the government, provincial, federal and municipal governments.

“This year has been difficult… we need support from the government. The federal government’s aid only helps the dairy, egg and meat farmers,” he said.

“They need to look at fruit growers too. We have problems too and it’s been difficult for us too.”

READ: Orchardists face challenges from COVID-19 pandemic


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Farming

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

Just Posted

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

The Premier Hotel on Summerland’s Main Street and the taxi were owned by Bill and Lydia Johnston. Today, the building is Sass Fashions in Summerland. H.S. Kenyon, who moved the building to Summerland from Midway, continued with building construction. His family now operates Greyback Construction. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Two former Summerland hotel buildings have been moved over the years

Transport of buildings is part of community’s history

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
More than 20 days have passed since the last case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Lakeside Manor. (File photo)
Salmon Arm retirement facility reopens social areas after COVID-19

More than 20 days have passed since last confirmed case at Lakeside Manor

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read