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Keeping it all

together

Parmjit Bains and daughter Simran, who began a career in international public health but has returned to Westberry Farms in Abbotsford.

JUDIE STEEVES

Whether it’s the family operation or the berry industry generally, Parmjit Bains knows the value of concerted, cooperative effort.

By Judie Steeves

P

armjit and Satwinder Bains made a conscious decision to bring up their children in Abbotsford, away from the big city, and now they are finding those youngsters—all grown up—are returning to their roots to carry on the family enterprise, Westberry Farms. Bains admits it is satisfying to have the couple’s eldest daughter, Simran, back working with them, and says there is room for all three if they are interested. With Suvi in graphic design and Nav in third-year business administration, their skills easily could be put to use in the family business.

Although Satwinder is a professor in social work at the

University of the Fraser Valley, her husband says, “We work shoulder to shoulder.”

They bought 40 acres in Abbotsford in 1989, with half of it already in blueberries, and the other half still bush, explains Bains.

He grew up in New Westminster and went to UBC and studied agricultural sciences, graduating in 1979. He then went into the private sector before taking a position with government in agriculture.

In 1993 they planted some cranberries as well, with the idea of diversifying. However, his enthusiasm was dampened by a drop in the price of cranberries, so he says he hasn’t planted any more.

Of the 100 acres the Bains farm today in Abbotsford, 90 per cent is in blueberries and 10 per cent in cranberries. Blueberries have gone through a major growth period, he notes.

From the bogs of Richmond, they have moved into the Fraser Valley’s mineral soils with new technology, and they’re now grown in Delta as well.

And that growth in the blueberry industry hasn’t stopped yet. With production now at 90 million pounds in B.C., Bains predicts it would easily hit 150 million and this

British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2010

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