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BCFGA Convention Industry

contributions recognized

By Judie Steeves C

awston growers Wilf and Sally Mennell were named life members in the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association at January’s 127th annual convention, along with Kelowna growers Brian and Dorothy Witzke and Kamlesh Parmar. The Mennells discovered the very successful Ambrosia apple variety, which started off as a chance seedling that sprouted in their orchard. However, if they hadn’t realized the potential and taken the steps they did to license it and limit its availability, as well as supporting and promoting the brand around the world, Ambrosia wouldn’t be the industry star it is.

The Mennells were unavailable to receive their award because they were in Europe promoting Ambrosia at the time of the convention. The Witzkes have been active in the industry for several decades. Brian participated in the initial visit to Europe to bring back information about high-density plantings for apple growers and was a BCFGA delegate and a member of the province’s Tree Fruit Production Insurance Advisory Committee. Dorothy was involved on the business side, participating in farm business and accounting forums and workshops and in the B.C. Farm Women’s Network.

The Witzke family is still replanting to new varieties of apples on their East Kelowna farm, with the help of their son, who has now joined the business.

Kelowna orchardist Parmar is a former director of the B.C. Tree Fruit Co-op and has been a delegate for many years to BCFGA conventions. He has been involved in expanding his high-density apple plantings over the years.

Summerland Research and Development Centre plant breeder Cheryl Hampson was presented with



Life member recipient Brian Witzke thanks BCFGA president Fred Steele, manager Glen Lucas and director Denise MacDonald, while his wife Dorothy (seated) agrees with him.


BCFGA director Denise MacDonald (left) presents an Award of Merit to Cheryl Hampson, who accepts it with her husband Ken Haddrell, who worked for many years with the Summerland Varieties Corporation, a plant breeding rights company.

an Award of Merit by the association for her decades of work crossing and selecting new apple varieties for the industry.

She retires this year from her position at the helm of both the apple and cherry breeding programs. Such programs must be long-term efforts because of the time required to try out new crosses.

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2016

BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas commented, “Cheryl’s focus and consistency have been very good for filling the pipeline with many promising new varieties, as well as completing the work on varieties released during her tenure, including the Aurora Golden Gala, Nicola and Salish apples and Starblush and Suite Note cherries.”

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