Mark Haithwaite received the award for his production of Sunrise, Gala, Fuji and Ambrosia on 5.5 acres. In 2014, he averaged 60 bins per acre with 96 per cent of his apples size 88 or larger. Photo Contributed
The 2014 B.C. Golden Apple Award was presented to Mark Haithwaite, a second-generation orchardist based in the Similkameen Valley.
Haithwaite purchased his Cawston property in 1977, moving just a few miles down the road from his parent’s farm in Keremeos.
Working at the local packinghouse, BC Tree Fruits, and with the school board helped Haithwaite to support his family, but his recent retirement has been a bonus for the orchard.
“I’ve always wanted to do this for a living,” he says. “Being retired, now I have had a chance to do it all on my own.”
Haithwaite grows Sunrise, Gala, Fuji and Ambrosia on 5.5 acres of his 8.5-acre property. He designed the orchard so it can be maintained part-time by just three people.
“Mark’s orchard has really gone up a few notches since he’s retired,” says Charlotte Laing, B.C. Tree Fruits fieldperson and award judge. “His orchard is absolutely gorgeous. He has a full crop, with great colour and great size. Particularly with Ambrosia, it’s hard to get good size, which is important for our markets, and still keep the colour.”
Initial nominations for the award are made by field service personnel and consultants and are open to any grower. Field visits are held in early September.
“Pack outs are inspected with great detail over the winter,” says judge Jim Campbell. “It’s always a tough decision for the judges.”
“We look at the yields per acre and fruit quality and size,” says Campbell. “This year, Mark’s yield was 60 bins per acre, with 96 per cent of his apples size 88 or larger.”
Haithwaite was surprised when it was announced he’d won the award.
“I’m thankful for the support I’ve had along the way,” he says.
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