Jell, who had no background in commercial agriculture, hit the ground running.
He comes from a family of avid gardeners in Courtenay, so had a feel for the horticultural side of orcharding. “The eye-opener was seeing how the business and political sides of the industry work,” he said. Jell’s plan is to double the production of apples through the use of a V-trellis system.
Ten wires, the top wire being at 3.8 metres, are strung
on each side of 4.1 metre high sturdy metal Vs. Branches are tied to the wires in a fashion reminiscent of grape vines.
This system results in double the number of rows and greatly increased light capture and air circulation. Jell anticipates the system will reduce labour costs up to a 40 percent.
This year he is stripping all blossoms in order for the trees to grow as strong and tall as possible for his first crop in 2012.
Jell thinks the co-op model of fruit sales may be on its way out and is working on a new concept of direct selling to customers.
Devin Jell of Summerland anticipates doubling apple production through the use of a trellis system in which branches are tied to wires strung at intervals on each side of 4.1-metre high sturdy metal Vs.
David and his father, John, currently have 12 hectares planted in nine varieties of apples.
Their survival strategy is to increase the acreage in high- density and raise varieties in demand, such as Honeycrisp and Ambrosia.
They are also looking at value-added options, especially juice and cider.
The Doberniggs sell their fruit to Okanagan Tree Fruits. David can’t guarantee that the family farm may some day be available for the fourth generation to operate. “But there is hope,” he said. Devin Jell, who farms 10.5 hectares of apples in Summerland, is optimistic about his family’s future. “I have a plan and I have a track record of success,” Jell said.
The track record includes a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Victoria and marrying Janine Gartrell. Janine’s great-great-
grandparents, James and Mary Gartrell, planted the first commercial orchard in the Okanagan Valley in 1890. “Dave was ready to retire and twisted my arm to take over,” Jell said, referring to his father- in-law.
In 2006, the young couple moved to Summerland where
In 2001, Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein, owners of Klippers Organic Acres, purchased a two-hectare organic orchard in Cawston.
Kevin, a former restaurant and bar owner, and Annamarie, a former model whose family owns an organic farm in the Fraser Valley, quickly learned they needed more than two hectares of fruit to support their family.
Today, they raise an astonishing number of tree fruit varieties as well as ground and greenhouse crops on their 8.5 hectares of owned and 7.7 hectares of leased land. The couple grows approximately 40 varieties of fruit trees and close to 200 varieties of vegetables, berries and spices. The fruit trees, which occupy half of the acreage, account for a quarter of the family’s total income. The Klippensteins waste nothing. In addition to fruit and vegetables, they sell apple juice, dried fruit and jams primarily at Vancouver- area farmers’ markets.
Recently they have diversified into “community supported agriculture” box and gift certificate programs. Kevin has a talent for reaching agreements such as the arrangement he has with Marita Freestone, who processes dried apples for him in exchange for rent on his processing facility.
Marita sells her own apple chips under the label Sun Valley Treats.
Accommodations for the participants in the apprentice program which Kevin runs are on the second floor of the facility. “I teach business skills including how to acquire land—buy or lease—along with horticulture,” he said.
Annamarie and Kevin Klippenstein purchased a two hectare orchard in Cawston 10 years ago. They were named the B.C. and Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers of 2011.
In increasing his own land holdings, Kevin has negotiated private sales with neighbours.
The Klippensteins were named the B.C. and Yukon Outstanding Young Farmers of 2011.
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011
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