Curlew Orchard Feeds UBCO:
The Curlew Orchard Story
Patrick and Sean are the dedicated farmers behind Curlew Orchard, a 20-acre organic farm in Vernon that the couple began in 2015, and which has since become certified organic. Six acres of the property are planted with high-density apple trees, while another acre is devoted to permaculture, with a mix of fruit trees, berries, herbs, vegetables and diverse companion plants. Three acres of low density fruit trees will be added in 2022.
Patrick’s background is in environmental and project management, and he knew he wanted to do more to live in the way he had promoted and researched. When he and Sean moved to Vernon from Ontario in 2015 and began Curlew Orchard, they began work right away to transition to organic farming, while diversifying beyond the Gala, Ambrosia and Granny Smith varieties that already existed there.
“It was always the goal that we would go organic, sell locally and try to support ourselves from our property,” Patrick says. “Putting environmental stewardship into action, incorporating in our lives what had been theories I believed in through my career up until that point.”
They began to enrich the soil in order to build up nutrients and revitalize some of the older trees on the property, and committed to farming the property in a climate-conscious way.
“The reason we wanted to get into this … to do something hands-on, implementing sustainability practices with action,” says Patrick. “In our own small way to connect with the land, grow food for the community and support what we want for our family now, and kids in teh future.”
Not only are they adapting to the changing climate, but Patrick and Sean are also doing what they can to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the orchard. Read more about their commitment to sustainable farming in the next section!
For Patrick, producing, selling and consuming food in a way that’s mindful of the climate and environment, while helping strengthen the Okanagan’s local food system, is a huge driving force behind everything he does.
“It’s blatantly obvious that there’s some mass change needed,” says Patrick. “And so, what little things can we do to try to start implementing, and hopefully make organic growing easier and more practical and more enticing? Even (considering) the amount of farmland we do have (in B.C.), we could do a lot better for growing our own food. Start thinking a little bit more about diversifying what we have right here to supply local communities.”
Some of the ways in which Patrick is committed to ethical farming:
- Diversifying crops on his farm. Curlew Orchard has high and low-density blocks of apples, as well as a permaculture orchard where he interplants herbs and flowers underneath fruit trees to maximize space and create a habitat and food for pollinator species. This permaculture approach helps manage pests, balance soil, conserve water, and offer more yield throughout the season.
- Mindful yields. The varieties of apples he is introducing are intentionally chosen because they do well in this dry climate. dry land climate apples. “We’ve started to consider other crops that will be able to take the changing weather,” he adds.
- Fencing. Specific parts of the orchard are left unfenced to encourage a steady movement of wildlife around the orchard. Trees are planted strategically to boost shade and habitat for birds, including predator birds like owls – which help with pest mitigation without the need for chemical intervention.
- Leaving unfarmed parts of the property by allowing and encouraging native growth above underground streams and wetlands, which also brings beneficial insects to the property.
- Using cover crops to benefit their soil, by planting micro clovers between trees, which helps trees withstand heat and attract beneficial insects.
- Installing solar panels to reduce dependency on electricity, which will impact their GHG emissions.
WHERE TO FIND Curlew Orchard
Farm Gate Sales
Purchase apples and juice from the Curlew Orchard farm stand on Thursdays from noon till 6pm. Orders can also be placed by email for pick up from their red barn (corner of Curlew and Malim roads) Monday through Friday.
Email orders (minimum 11kg/25lb flat of apples) to firstname.lastname@example.org or see form below.
Join the Curlew Orchard Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. With a CSA subscription, your share of farm produce will be delivered to a convenient pick-up location for 20 weeks starting at harvest. More info here.
Vernon Farmers Market
Find Curlew Orchard at the local farmer’s market. More here.