Leah Blain photo                                 Harriet and James Hanna are retiring after more than four decades in the business.

Leah Blain photo Harriet and James Hanna are retiring after more than four decades in the business.

Friends & Neighbours: Orchard icons opt for retirement

James and Harriet Hanna are never far from their work. Their home is surrounded by apple orchards and overlooks the store. But in a few months this will all be done. They’ve decided it’s time to retire.

“It has not been easy,” says Harriet. “We were building on the generations before us.”

“Twenty years ago we thought, ‘We don’t want to be the generation that loses the farm. We had a responsibility,” adds James. “Five generations of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this place.”

“We need someone who has a new vision to take it to a new level,” says Harriet, noting the business is currently for sale. “Our fruit is the top 10 of 400 that go to the packing house, and our galas and honey crisps are number one in BC. Salmon Arm is one of the best growing areas in the valley for apples. I think a cidery would be great. If we were younger we would do it.”

That’s the key to the Hanna success, each generation expanded the business to meet the changed demands. Years ago things were different.

“That old barn used to be a dairy barn,” says James pointing out the old structure. “Dad and granddad always had a herd of jersey cows, maybe up to 15 head. Dad had to get a job in the mill to pay the bills. He would work graveyard, get a few hours of sleep and then be out in the orchard.”

Harriet (nee Vander-Hock) grew up in Salmon Arm, albeit on the other side and her life was all about dairy farming.

“I was cleaning all the milk machinery on Saturdays and getting the cows from the field, helping with bailing. Having to home every afternoon by 5 to milk was so tedious I made up decision I wasn’t going to marry a dairy farmer.”

When she was 16 her mother broke her leg so Harriet had to take on the gardening and canning.

“I made another decision. I thought gardening was one of the stupidest things you could do with your time and I was never going to do that. A declaration at 16 doesn’t necessarily follow you through life,” Harriet says laughing. “So I married a fruit grower – because I loved him. Now I love gardening, it’s an outlet for creativity.”

But their romance wasn’t love at first sight when they met in elementary school. Harriet’s brothers used to tease James and when he tried to get back at them, Harriet stepped in.

“A nice girl in a blue dress came up to me and informed me if I hurt her brothers she would beat me up,” says James.

“I don’t remember this,” says Harriet.

They started dating before the end of high school and have now been married for 44 years.

In the early years when Harriet was at home with the children they decided to sell apples from the property so she had a sign asking people to honk for service.

A lot has changed since they took over the farm in 1983. They’ve added, improved, and expanded the business. However, instead of looking back, they’re looking forward to a life of retirement.

They plan to do more kayaking, hiking, biking, and some traveling. Harriet is hoping to do some singing and painting. James is talking about getting into the community band.

“It’s not going to be a new life, just different,” says James. “Instead of the job governing our lives, it will be us deciding what we’re going to do.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two seperate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

Butter and sourdough bread is shown at a house in Vernon, B.C. on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. A Quebec dairy farmers’ group is calling on milk producers to stop feeding palm oil or its derivatives to livestock as controversy churns over how these supplements affect the consistency of butter. (THE CANADIAN PRESS - Jesse Johnston)
Poll: Care to spread your feelings on butter?

Reports of hard butter have rattled the Canadian dairy industry

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band had words of praise for the consultation between her people and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on an ongoing highway project. (Black Press file photo)
Collaboration on Shuswap highway project receives national award

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says expansion will open new economic opportunities for the band

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

(HelloKelowna - Twitter)
West Kelowna billboard bearing anti-vaccine messaging deemed misleading

Ad Standards investigated the billboard, noting a lack of evidence to support the messaging

Baldy Mountain Resort is temporarily closed following the death of a resort family member. Pictured above is a sunrise at the resort, Feb. 19, 2021. (Baldy Mountain Resort/Facebook)
Baldy Mountain ski hill closed following death of resort family member

Authorities currently investigating, resort set to reopen Sunday, Feb. 27

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Most Read