By Don Burnett
There is no better way to impress visitors and relatives from Alberta than to turn them on to Okanagan fruit production and in particular to a professional family farm such as the Dendy Cherry Orchard farm gate sales depot on Pooley Road.
It is amazing to see the production and the hive of activity on this 90-acre historical cherry orchard. The farm has been in the hands of the Pooley/Dendy families for 114 years and is presently operated by Christine Dendy and her son Neil. There are a lot of cherries on the market these days however I recommend treating yourself to some of the absolute best! We purchased a box of a variety called Sylvia as well as a box of Lapin’s. We also purchased a few Rajah which are today’s version of the old Royal Anne golden variety.
In a few days, I’m going to stock up on some more beauties for canning. We find cherries to be one of the easiest fruit to can as we put them in whole, pits and all. About a week ago I consumed the last jar of last year’s crop so I’m anxious to get a few dozen jars on the shelf which will hold us through to next summer. Even though cherries taste the best fresh, the canned product is a close second when you start with quality cherries such as the ones we get from the Dendy orchard.
Dominique Rampone, also a pioneer family, suggests dipping the cherries in dark chocolate and freezing them for a tasty summer treat. Dom has been helping out with the farm gate sales for a couple of years at the Dendy orchard and what a great job he is doing informing his customers of the importance of supporting local growers and educating folk on what constitutes a quality cherry. Dom and I have often discussed how proud we should be with the world class research done right here in the Okanagan at the Summerland Research Facility.
Eighty percent of the world’s cherry varieties now in production originated here and in the Okanagan, we have the longest season and latest crops of sweet cherries found anywhere in the world. You can find the Dendy Orchard at 3710 Pooley Road in beautiful East Kelowna.
The cherry growers and other fruit production folk face many challenges in getting quality fruit to the market which is safe for our consumption. One of the biggest concerns the cherry growers have is the Cherry Fruit Fly which was introduced into the valley in the 1960s. The controls used by the commercial farmers today are much safer than they have been in the past however it is our responsibility as homeowners to avoid contributing to the problem.
In other words, I highly recommend only having fruit trees of any kind in your back yard unless you are willing to do your due diligence in keeping the spread of these and other insect and disease issues at bay. This is not as easy to do now that the availability of the necessary control product has been removed from the retail/homeowner market. If you are not using your cherries after you find they have been attached by the Cherry Fruit Fly larvae then pick every last one and place them in a sealed plastic bag before putting them in the garbage. An option is to have them professionally sprayed by a licensed qualified spray company. As Dominique says “Thank you for supporting your local farms.”
Listen to Don Burnett and Ken Salvail every Saturday Morning from 8am to 10am presenting the Garden Show on AM 1150 now in its 34th year