Meet Me at the Market: Family farm goes value-added route instead of selling fruit to packing houses

Local farm value-added

Meet Me at the Markets is a recurring series highlighting the stories behind the many vendors and food producers who make up the Kelowna Farmers' & Crafters' Market.

A Kelowna family decided that instead of selling their fruit at a loss to packing houses, they would try a new value-added venture.

Plumberry Farm has been in business for the past three years. You can find their booth at the Kelowna Farmers' & Crafters' Market.

The property has been a farm since the 1950s. At one time, it grew tomatoes, and then grapes. Now it's where the Amann family turns plums, blueberries, raspberries, rhubarb, and cherry tomatoes into everything from hot sauce to rhubarb syrup.

"If we were to sell our fruit to the packing houses, we'd probably only be able to sell 30 to 50 percent to the packing house. The rest they just wouldn't accept for being too small or blemished," explains Dean Amann. "So, instead of taking a loss on your crop, we do our own value-added."

All Plumberry jams and sauces are low sugar, something Amann says is increasingly important to shoppers at the farmers' market.

"It's hard to eliminate all the sugar. Usually, a jam has a 1-to-1 ratio of jam to fruit, and we've got it down to 30 percent. It's the biggest question we have. I want to buy this for my diabetic friend. How much sugar is in it?"

Amann, his wife Olivia, and their 23-year-old son work the farm and make the products. Plus, he has a full-time job. When it's harvest time, it's all hands on deck.

"We pick at the peak of ripeness and then sort the fruit as to what will go to the market and what will go to the sauces and jams. I take a day off of work here and there, or we do everything in the evening," said Amann.

He says their hope is to have a commercial kitchen on the property someday. They're also in discussions to set up an e-commerce website for Plumberry Farm.

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