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Hobbies gone wild


Jamming and canning has added a promising new dimension to Vista D’oro Farms andWinery.


By Judie Steeves L


ee and Patrick Murphy are holding tight to the reins of a couple of hobbies that got out of control, and it’s proving to be a wild ride.


It began, innocently enough, with a jar of jam.


As everyone knows, you can’t make just one jar of jam, though, and Lee ended up with enough that she decided it would be fun to take some to the local farmers’ market to sell.


And, that’s when she started losing control of her jam-making hobby. This year, she has taken what has become a business operated out of her on-farm Langley home, and doubled the jam production from the 30,000 jars last year—all still hand-----made. Plus, with new equipment she has purchased (with the assistance of a $75,000 investment from the federal Economic Action Plan, in the form of an AgriProcessing Initiative interest- free loan) Vista D’oro Farms will have the capacity to produce up to 100,000 jars a year. They will still be hand-made jams and the operation will still be sustainable, she says with satisfaction. Lee admits candidly she never thought her future would be in jam, but she has ideas for a host of new combinations of flavours she would like to try.


That would add to the current lineup, which includes the raspberry merlot with peppercorns she finished up just prior to this interview.


Although husband Patrick is the winemaker—another hobby gone wild—sometimes the wine ends up in jam jars as well, she notes, but last year saw the first harvest of their own grapes, so it’s early days yet. The couple met when they worked for Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers, where Lee was in accounting and Patrick in


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British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall 2012 7 JUDIE STEEVES


Cherry is just one of the flavours Lee Murphy uses for her growing line of products.


marketing.


Then, in 1997 they bought the first five-acre piece of farmland in Langley, where they grew tomatoes and herbs in a greenhouse, and tended some orchard, along with some very old walnut trees.


The adjacent five-acre piece was later added to it, and their hobbies expanded.


Then, in 2002, the Murphys built a carriage house with a commercial kitchen in it, where Lee taught some


cooking classes and had fun creating different flavours of jams and salsas during the growing season, and putting them into jars.


They grow some apples, pears, cherries and plums and they purchase berries from their friends, Alf and Sandee Krause, as well as some Okanagan fruit, mostly from Harkers Organics, an organic family farm in Cawston.


“My mom and gramma canned and jammed, but I really got interested after


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