acres with a greenhouse and modest home.
Today, they own or lease almost 40 acres, have several greenhouses and outbuildings and they and their four children enjoy living in a large modern home.
For practical experience in marketing, apprentices are welcome to accompany Kevin and Annemarie to farmers’ markets.
In the seminars the various ways of marketing produce and associated costs are considered, for example, selling at farmers’ markets, requires that vendors have scales, a tent and a vehicle. In the CSA model, growers need to invest in bins.
Apprentice Julia Sparrow, right, is part of the kitchen crew making jam from frozen peaches. The jam will be sold under the label of Klippers Organics at farmers' markets located primarily in the Lower Mainland. The Klippensteins' nanny, Mary Jane Supnat, left, is also part of the crew.
farmers’ market,” Kevin said. Apprentices can expect to be involved in most aspects of running an organic fruit and vegetable farm from propagation, field preparation and seeding to harvesting and marketing. The Klippensteins grow approximately 40 varieties of fruit trees and close to 200 varieties of vegetables, berries and spices which they sell primarily at Vancouver- area farmers’ markets. In addition, customers can purchase apple juice, dried fruit, jam and other preserved goods under the Klippers Organics label.
Kevin and Annemarie also participate in community supported agriculture (CSA) box and gift certificate programs. When time permits, such as on rainy days or at either end of the season, Kevin and Annemarie hold seminars on topics such as accessing land through purchase or lease agreements, irrigation, marketing, organic certification and the practical side of operating a business. They also arrange field trips, including to the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland.
“Peter Toivonen at PARC showed us how CA works and how to use starch and sugar tests,” Kevin said.
As part of learning how to access land, apprentices meet with a local real estate agent who takes them to view properties. “We show them what to look for, such as soil types and characteristics and what kinds of weeds are present. It’s also important to check on any previous agreements such as supplying a winery or a packing house with a certain amount of
product and if those agreements are renewable,” Annemarie said. She and Kevin also stress the importance of knowing the sources of water and types of irrigation systems. At Klippers Organics, apprentices get hands-on experience on how to select and lay out the most appropriate irrigation system and how to assemble and use it. They also learn about the importance of knowing the type and terms of a lease — for example, a crop-share basis or a straight lease with so many dollars for so many acres.
The Klippensteins stress the importance of getting all agreements in writing.
“Everyone wanting to farm should do a risk assessment,” Annemarie said. “Is it better to start out small and build up or to buy property which already has a nice house and outbuildings?”
In 2001, she and Kevin purchased five
Some farmers sell directly to restaurants and local retail outlets, while others work under contract with distributors.
“Flexibility is important to find the best ways of marketing your produce,” Annemarie said.
Organic certification is another important topic.
Apprentices learn about the various certifying groups, associated requirements and costs, and how to complete forms.
They accompany representatives of the Pacific Agriculture Certification Society on their inspection tours of the Klippenstein property .
In the business section apprentices develop their own business plans and learn about financing, record keeping, taxes and payrolls.
Kevin’s initial business experience was as a restaurant and bar owner. A former model, Annemarie also worked in the food and beverage industry and with her family who owns an organic farm in the Fraser Valley. The Klippensteins were named the BC and Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers in 2011.
AGRICULTURAL NETS & FABRICS
250.494.1099 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2013 13
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