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Cover Story

This innovative bearproof cage has been specially designed to protect hives of bees. The Sardinhas lost some hives several years ago to a rampaging bear during spring pollination.

JUDIE STEEVES A whole new learning curve...

Julie Sardinha adds to her skill set and friends pitch in to help keep the family orchard operating smoothly.

By Judie Steeves T

he aromas of home-cooked baking don’t often waft from the kitchen of Julie Sardinha’s home any more, nor do community groups benefit from as many of her volunteer hours.

She’s on a steep learning curve, working out in the Summerland orchard she and her husband Joe partnered on for 30 years before his sudden death Aug. 31 last year. Joe Sardinha served on the executive of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association for 11 years, and as a delegate representing his area for many years before that, retiring after

seven years unopposed as president, in 2012, the year before his death at the age of 52.

“Joe knew every tree,” recalls Julie, as she recounts tales of her newly- acquired skills on the end of the pruners and on the tractor putting on sprays. It was last fall that she backed into a Pink Lady with a bin on the back of the tractor. It leveled the tree, and once again, she says with a rueful grin, “I apologized to Joe. It happens every time I do something to a tree.” Joe grew up in orchards, including the one his parents bought in

Summerland when he was a youngster, working alongside the family from the time he was nine. He and Julie met at university when they were 18. At the age of 20 they married, building their home on the orchard in 1983.

Although Julie admits she didn’t British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2014

know an apricot from an apple tree when they met, she says within months she could tell you which rootstock each tree was on. She grew up on a farm as well, learning to milk a cow as soon as she was able to reach “what I needed to,” she says with a smile.

Joe Sardinha

While they raised their son Brian and daughter Katie on the orchard, Julie would work seven days a week thinning and picking fruit, but she never got involved in spraying or pruning or some of the other orchard chores. So, the day of our interview, she was ecstatic because she’d finally found the last valve for the irrigation system. “I knew where some of the irrigation stations were, but a couple I hadn’t needed to know before. I tried to think, ‘Where would Joe have put that valve?’ but I just couldn’t find it—until this morning,” she said with relief.

With the loss of Joe just prior to 7

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