As we say goodbye to the last vestiges of summer, we try to savour the last of the produce that makes the season so memorable. Students participating in the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program (BCSFVNP) will have the good fortune to taste some of the last fruits of summer when they receive a delivery of fresh Similkameen peaches, which are on the program for the first time ever.
The peaches were supplied by Harker’s Organics in Cawston, where fifth generation farmer Troy Harker and his crew worked to bring in some of the finest peaches B.C has to offer. The packing of the fruit which took place last Wednesday saw both the growers and the BCSFVNP breathe a sigh of relief that the schools would be getting their peaches. With such a cool spring and delayed summer there was some anxiety that the fruit would not ripen. “There’s been a lot of tense evenings and sleepless nights” said Troy Harker with mingled relief and excitement, “[but] we’re overwhelmed with joy that we’ve accomplished it.” Troy and his crew worked tirelessly and managed to harvest and pack all the fruit in one day. It took a team of 18 packers, 14 pickers, three tractors and two forklifts to accomplish the job.
The fruit was shipped out last Friday, and is being delivered to the schools this week. A total of 1,903 cases of peaches were packed with 1,826 going to the program. “The sizing was large this year” said Troy, “these peaches are beautiful [and] there are a lot of number ones.”
Troy explained the whole process of harvesting and the ups and downs that come with being a farmer, and how it is important to adapt depending on the year. This time it worked out just in time for Harker’s. “We’ve been high fiving and hooting and hollering” said Troy, the relief evident in his voice, “my brain is mush right now, but this (getting the peaches harvested) is such a great feeling.”
Harker’s still has a ways to go for the rest of the season, with pears and apples beginning to ripen. There are always concerns for the well-being of the fruit, but for now the crew will celebrate their success of getting the fruit to schools with a bottle of champagne.
The BC Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program is one of the programs managed by BC Agriculture in the Classroom, a non-profit foundation working with educators through various programs to bring BC’s agriculture to their students. The program is presented to BC K-12 public and First Nations schools as part of Healthy Families BC with funding from the BC Ministry of Health. The Foundation is managed by Executive Director, Lindsay Babineau. For more about BCAITC, please review their website http://www.aitc.ca/bc/
By Emma Sweeney
BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation