Bruce Duggan said activity at his U-pick farm has been a bit slow due to the rainy weather this summer. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

Bruce Duggan said activity at his U-pick farm has been a bit slow due to the rainy weather this summer. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)

Slow season at Okanagan U-pick farms

Lake Country farm owner Bruce Duggan said the rainy weather is turning people away

In the summer, U-pick farms are usually bustling as families bring their children to pick fruits and vegetables.

But that’s not the case this season, as the Okanagan’s recent rainy weather has turned people away from many outdoor activities, including visiting farms.

Bruce Duggan, owner of Duggan’s Farm in Lake Country, said seasons for produce have been thrown off as a result of the onset of cooler weather this summer.

“This season, with the cooler weather earlier, we were way down in the production of asparagus but now that we’ve hit the strawberry (season), boy, there’s a lot of strawberries up there,” he said.

“But the problem for the strawberries with all the rain is getting them picked quick enough before they go rotten.”

Duggan said unpicked fruits stay in the field and once they rot, that means a loss for the farm as they can’t sell them at all.

He said he hasn’t seen families with their children a lot this year as rain keeps them indoors.

“I always encourage parents to bring their kids because I want them to see where their food starts, especially if they’re from bigger cities. Kids probably haven’t a clue and don’t appreciate their food as much because they don’t know where they come from.”

The farm has 70 kinds of fruits and vegetables in total, including strawberries, peaches, apricots, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and lettuce, among many others. Duggan said the 20-acre property was mainly a fruit tree farm but once he took over from his father, he decided to branch out and cultivate other produce.

“But this season, I don’t actually have that many (fruits and vegetables). This year, I could’ve sold double of what I had this year had it not been for the cooler weather,” he said.

“Once asparagus season starts, we get very busy. Three of the stores that I sell to, I had to tell them ‘that’s it for this year, I just don’t have any more’. We just didn’t have as much this year.”

Duggan is optimistic about the rest of the summer, however, especially for the fruits that flourish in cooler weather.

“The blueberries, they’re not ready yet but they’re loaded with fruit already. Once they’re ready, the season will pick up again.”

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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Farming