Budding farmer gets his start on Keremeos orchard

Alan can be seen picking organic ambrosia apples on his Keremeos orchard, Old Tower Farm. The provincial government has partnered with the farm owners to lease a portion of their orchard to a new farmer. (Old Tower Farm photo)
Old Tower Farm is named after the turrett that towers over the organic apple orchard and B&B cottage. (Old Tower photo)

Okanagan farmer Kanver Brares comes from a long line of farmers and orchardists. He grew up on his family’s orchard playing among the fruit trees. After completing a business degree and trying to find his passion in life, his heart led him back to his roots — agriculture.

Through the B.C. land matching program (BCLMP), Brares was paired with long-time organic apple orchardists Alain Peron and Donna Bartlett who own Old Tower Farm in Keremeos. Brares is just one of many budding young farmers who will lease farmland across B.C.

“Over the past years in the Okanagan, land has become a scarce resource. As a young farmer starting up, the purchasing price per acre is not realistic. The BCLMP offered new opportunities for young farmers who would like to acquire land. This program helps farmers seeking land in B.C by matching their land criteria with landholders looking to lease their land,” said Brares.

Through his lease, which began Jan. 1, Brares took over the 2.12-hectare (5.25-acre) orchard and business, carrying on the legacy of Old Tower Farm that has been built over the last 25 years.

Old Tower Farm has been growing certified organic apples, nectarines and apple rootstocks. They are a family-run operation with a B&B located on Middle Bench Rd. Their farm is well known for its turret that stands tall near the B&B cottage.

In 2005, they started to grow a few hundred apple rootstocks. Now they produce 25,000 for the Canadian market.

Donna Bartlett and Alain Peron have owned the farm since 2001.

For Brares, at 21, it’s nearly impossible to buy his own land to farm, but leasing is a great way to start, he said.

Organic ambrosia apples grow in abundance at Old Tower Farm where 21-year-old Kanver Brares will lease.

“The BCLMP provided numerous options of land opportunities in the region that one couldn’t find personally. As the interest of new farmers is increasing, this program will help and motivate new farmers to acquire land.”

The provincial initiative supports young farmers and food producers seeking a career in agriculture and addresses major challenges for new farmers, such as gaining access to land. The program is part of the Province’s New Entrant Strategy, which looks at ways to increase the number of new and young farmers working in B.C.’s agriculture sector.

READ MORE: Minimum wage going up in June, for farm workers too

More than 100 farmers in the province have started growing crops and raising livestock on more than 2,023 hectares (5,000 acres) of farmland since 2016 through the B.C. Land Matching Program (BCLMP).

The 46 land matches finalized in 2020 will help improve food security, create economic growth and bring more local food options to communities in B.C. following COVID-19.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.



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