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JUDIE STEEVES


Restored manor house, above, octagonal barn and hayshed, right, now look much as they did a century ago.


Fintry revival


Historic lakeside farmcould be an important part of Okanagan Valley agriculture once again if these ideas go beyond the dreamstage. By Judie Steeves


A


working group has been established by the Friends of Fintry to explore the idea of establishing an incubation facility at the historic farm—now a provincial park—where new farm enterprises could be nurtured.


Keith Duhaime, agricultural support officer for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, envisions the park as a focal point for an agricultural renaissance in the Okanagan with the name Fintry New Farm. He can imagine young farmers rediscovering skill sets that “we’ve kind of lost” over the years, with a return to more- sustainable, traditional farming, producing niche market products that today fetch premium prices on world markets. For instance, using old-world artisans and raising traditional breeds of pigs or geese, fine charcuterie products could be produced in the Okanagan, which could demand high prices all over the world.


“It needs to be a high-end product,” Duhaime emphasizes. Such a venture is a perfect fit with the heritage of Fintry,


which was built by James Cameron Dun-Waters, an innovative and determined pioneer from Scotland who grew vegetables and tree fruits, raised Ayrshire dairy cows, pigs and chickens on the delta of Shorts Creek at Fintry. He produced his own electricity using a pelton wheel to generate it from the falls on Shorts Creek and he introduced telephone service that linked all the houses and other buildings on the delta, long before his neighbours had such conveniences.


Dun-Waters, known as the Laird of Fintry, farmed the delta from 1909 to 1939, when he turned it over to the Fairbridge Farm Schools to be used to educate British youngsters in farming skills so they could make their way in the new world.


In recent years, the orchard and farmland has lain fallow, although the non-profit Friends of Fintry Society have worked with B.C. Parks to restore some of the buildings, including the unique octagonal dairy barn, the granite manor house and the lakefront packinghouse. FOF president Mike Berry sees it as an opportunity for people to see what farm life might have been like in the early 1900s, “like a living museum.”


The packinghouse, last remaining one on Okanagan Lake, where sternwheelers used to dock and load fruit from the delta, has just been reroofed and its foundations stabilized by B.C. Parks, and “the Friends would love to see it refurbished and used as part of a working farm; perhaps with a commercial kitchen where jams and jellies could be made,” comments Berry.


Looking even further into the future, he says they’ve discussed the possibility of a bistro, using produce from the


British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011 9


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