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Cover Story Youth on the move

Timesmay be tough for the tree fruit industry, but these under-40s are rising to the challenge. By Susan McIver


ntelligence, ingenuity and confidence are key characteristics of today’s young British Columbia fruit growers.

“My father always told me anyone could farm, but you had to be smart to succeed. Today you have to be smart to survive,” said Sukhdeep (Deep) Brar, 25, of Summerland.

Although Brar worked closely with his father while growing up, he hadn’t planned on a career in agriculture. By the time he received his Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical physiology two years ago, he realized his heart was in the family orchard “I love it so much. I love being outside,” he said

Relying on his father’s advice, Brar is now in charge of the family’s 24- hectare operation.Approximately 90 percent is planted in soft fruit, mainly cherries with some peaches, and the remaining 10 percent is in apples. Next year, Brar plans to replace the apples with Sentennial cherries, which will bring his total number of cherry varieties to six. This year he planted 1.2 hectares of Santina.

He is optimistic about the soft fruit industry.Prices are sustainable for his family, good

horticultural techniques are in place and he isn’t particularly concerned about Spotted Wing Drosophila. “Growers should be able to handle it with better information, such as when to use cover


After earning a bachelor's degree in biomedical physiology, Deep Brar, 25, realized his heart was in the family orchard. He is now in charge of the family's 24 hectare soft fruit operation in Summerland.

sprays and the best kind of spray,” he said.

Brar's current concern is how to get his fruit to market.

Closure of the Summerland packing

house necessitated his buying a new refrigerated truck to haul fruit to Penticton and assuming additional labour costs.

Last year, he had 30 bins of cherries rejected because of one leaf roller larva.

Rather than dump the fruit, he sold it to a private packing house in Oliver which not only paid him more than he would have received from the co-op packing house, but also picked up the fruit on-farm.

Regardless, he will continue to deal with the packing house this year in hopes that proposed changes will improve service.

David Dobernigg, 34, of Vernon, understands Brar’s love of orcharding and being outside.


For Dave Dobernigg, a third-generation Vernon orchardist, giving up farmland is just not an option.

“The future for apple growers is uncertain, but the farm seems too good a thing to give up. Once you give up the land you’ll never get it back,” said David, who is the third generation to farm the same land.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011 7

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