Members of the BC Fruit Growers Association have gathered in Penticton, B.C., for their annual convention and are looking to build alliances outside the province in order to strengthen the fruit-growing industry.
Association president Fred Steele says his group’s new bare-ground planting program to replant or reclaim orchards is vital if growers hope to move from sustainability to profitability.
The idea has been in the planning stage for the last year in B.C., and encourages growers to plant on land left vacant for more than five years, or to plant on land never before used for orchards.
A report from the association says the program must be implemented across the country if its to be effective, and apple associations in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are already on side.
The report says the Canadian Horticultural Council is also backing the idea and is proposing a partnership with the federal government that would include a loan program and interest forgiveness for participating farmers.
The B.C. report says the project includes provisions for improvements in infrastructure.