Walker Orchards bring fresh picked fruit from Oliver, BC to markets in Edmonton every week.
Walker Orchards is named after The Walker Family. In the mid 1980s the Walkers like many other fruit growers, were growing frustrated with the limited avenues they had to sell fruit so they began hauling their produce to Calgary and Edmonton and selling at farmers’ markets.
They began by only bringing fruit from their own orchard but as they became more successful, they also began bringing fruit from a friend’s and a neighbour’s orchard in Oliver and Osoyoos to increase their product variety.
In Oliver, they have a 12 acre orchard of their own and lease additional orchard land where they grow six varieties of peaches, five varieties of cherries, three varieties of apricots, two varieties of nectarines, five varieties of apples, grapes, plums and pears.
The turnaround from the tree to the market stand is always fast. During high season, fruit they’ve picked on a Wednesday or Thursday will be at market on Fridays. The freshness and quality of their product is as good as what many people are buying when they travel to BC for fruit. For example, Walker Orchards can let their peaches hang on the trees almost a week longer than peaches going to packinghouses. This allows them to provide a more ripe, sweeter, juicier product because the extra hanging time lets the fruit build more sugar and nutrients.
Running an orchard in Oliver and selling in Alberta requires a lot of time and commitment. At 75 years old, James Walker still drives fruit from the farm to markets every week while his daughter Suzanne runs markets during the week and her husband Gordon most often flies back to the Orchard in Oliver.
To help run and plan the orchard, Gordon works hand in hand with a manager who has been farming for over 20 years and together they are always looking for new varieties that are developed and approved for growing in Canada. Farm planning in orchards is a long game. When growing grains or veggies, you’re planning year to year but orchard planning tries to project what varieties will thrive and what consumers will want years down the line.
The Walker family would like to take this opportunity to thank all their loyal customers which they have relied on for decades and also any new customers that are just recently experiencing their great quality fruits. It is because of these wonderful folks that the Walkers love bringing their product to Alberta.
Did you know?
Pears have to be picked green because a pear ripens from the core outwards. Whatever you see on the outside, it’s more ripe in the inside.
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