Orchard’s heritage celebrated

A century-old Salmon Arm family has been recognized by the provincial government.

Century farm: Alf Peterson and son Allan stroll through the family orchard.

Century farm: Alf Peterson and son Allan stroll through the family orchard.

A century-old Salmon Arm family has been recognized by the provincial government.

MLA George Abbott’s  assistant Roxina Goodine presented the Peterson Family Farm with a Century Farm Award for the contributions the family has made to B.C.’s agriculture industry and economy over the past 100 years.

Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick commended the family for this impressive milestone as did Abbott, who was unable to attend the fair to present the award.

“Congratulations on being one of the founding farm families in the Shuswap region,” he said. “You have helped create this vibrant community that we live in today.”

Ed and Ivar Peterson arrived in the Salmon Arm area in 1911. They had originally planned to work at a mill in Chase, but since there was no  work available, they moved to Salmon Arm.

There, in exchange for logging and clearing 16 hectares of land in the North Broadview area, they each received four  hectares and $50.

This was the start of the family farm.

Both from Sweden, Ed Peterson and his wife Mina produced eight children – Hubert, Elmer, Hjalmar, Floyd, Margaret, Violet, Alf and Ingrid – who where all born in B.C.

The property became a productive fruit orchard, originally specializing in apples.

Ed and his five sons formed a company, Peterson Brothers Salmon Arm Ltd., to run the orchards, and in 1948 they grew enough to fill 2,000 bins of apples.

For several years, Peterson fruit accounted for three per cent of the apples and seven per cent of the cherries received at the Vernon Fruit Union.

Today, the family orchard grows more than 50 varieties of apples along with peaches, plums and other fruit crops.

Laura Peterson operates a small pie-making company using seasonal ingredients from the orchard.

“The farm today is the result of the hard work of all the members of the Peterson family,” says Alf. “Today, the third generation continues to raise apples, cherries and other stone fruits – all non-irrigated, and have extended to pie and juice making.”

Alf’s son, Allan, says he’s definitely proud of the family farm, but not confident it will last another 100 years.

“Not many farms make it that long,” he says. “But, you never know, one of them might change their mind.”

Most of the Peterson apples are packed at Okanagan Tree Fruit Company before being shipped all over the world.

And, while the numbers vary from year to year, between 400 to 500 bins are shipped every fall, each one containing 800 pounds of apples.

The province created the Century Farm award program in 1994 to mark the centennial of the Ministry of Agriculture.

To date, 99 family farms or organizations have received the Century Farm Award, including the Hanna family, who received their award five years ago.