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Kudos for top growers

By Judie Steeves T

he setting was a different one, and it was a melding of the old Okanagan Packinghouse

Fieldmen’s workshop and the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association Horticultural Forum, but the usual awards were presented to a new group of top growers this spring.

Held in Kelowna this year, the two- day B.C. Tree Fruit Horticultural Symposium was organized jointly by the Okanagan Packinghouse and Fieldmen’s Group and the BCFGA, and replaced the Hort Forum and fieldmen’s workshops held in previous years. As well, the Okanagan-Kootenay Cherry Growers’ Association held its annual meeting in conjunction with the symposium.

Lake Country orchardist Tarsem Dhoot was presented with the Compact Orchard Award, while Tom Ouchi of Vernon received the Golden Apple Award and Jake van Westen Jr. of Naramata won the Soft Fruit Award for his 28 acres of Lapin, Sweetheart and Skeena cherries.

Dhoot has a master’s degree in agriculture and his family operates 10.5 acres of Ambrosia, Gala and McIntosh apples.

They purchased the orchard in 1992, but prior to that Dhoot worked in orchards and leased orchards. He was born and educated in India and moved to Canada in 1981.

Tree fruit specialist for the provincial agriculture ministry, Jim Campbell, one of the judges for the annual industry awards, said the Dhoot Ambrosia block yielded high-quality, large-sized apples last year as a result of good thinning, pruning and nutrition.

“It all clicked for him last year,” commented Campbell.

Ouchi is a third-generation grower on what started out as a vegetable farm in the 1920s and was replanted to apples in the late 1950s.

Currently, it produces 18 acres of mostly Ambrosias, Galas and Spartans, with some Fuji, McIntosh, Golden Delicious and Aurora apples. There are also some peaches and two acres of vegetables for the pick-your- own part of the business.


Tom Ouchi, left, receives the 2011 Golden Apple Award from Carmine

D'Antonio, of United Horticultural Supply.

Winner of this year’s Compact Orchard Award is Tarsem Dhoot, pictured here with presenter Lisa Jarrett, of Dow Agrosciences.


Ouchi has a commerce degree and was in the real estate business prior to taking over the family farm.

Van Westen was raised and educated in the area and worked as a carpenter for awhile before joining his father, Jake Sr. in 2002. They now operate 14 acres of apples as well as wine grapes.

Campbell said there were a lot of nominations this year, with 18 alone for the two apple awards, and “all were excellent,” he said.

Ironically, he noted, the prices for these very well-grown crops do not reflect the high quality of apples grown here in B.C.


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250.494.1099 British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011

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