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New chapter for a family blueberry farm

With the kids now in charge, Boundary Bay Farm Market in B.C. is equipped with fresh ideas and keen spirits.


October 28, 2020
By Brooklynn Doucette, for BC Blueberries

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Having been in business for the last 20 years, Boundary Bay Farm Market is more than just a business to make ends meet. Photos courtesy of Boundary Bay Farm Market.

Randeep Randhawa is part of a generational blueberry operation in Delta, B.C., which is located within the Fraser Valley. The Fraser Valley has some of the best growing conditions and climate for blueberries.

“We’ve been growing blueberries for more than 20 years,” Randhawa says about the family business, Boundary Bay Farm Market, which sells blueberries and a unique variety of vegetables. “Right now, my siblings and I are currently taking over the farming duties from our parents, and we’re able to put a modern twist on it.”

When Randhawa’s parents emigrated to Canada 25 years ago, farming was purely for survival. And now, having been in business for the last 20 years, Boundary Bay Farm Market is more than just a business to make ends meet.

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“They have built something great for all of us,” she shares. “Now my brothers and I can expand the business without the survival outlook . . . and focus on thriving and growing.”

“They have built something great for all of us,” she shares. “Now my brothers and I can expand the business without the survival outlook . . . and focus on thriving and growing.”

Randhawa explains that continuing to grow new varieties may uncover what crop can best withstand the environmental factors of B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

No stranger to challenges

“Any farmer will tell you the biggest challenge we’ll ever face is unpredictable weather,” Randhawa notes. Over the years, Boundary Bay Farm Market has been constantly up against the province’s sheer amount of rainfall. With Randhawa and her siblings now in charge, this same obstacle persists.

Although B.C.’s Lower Mainland has a moderate temperature, providing the perfect climate for growing blueberries, rainfall can threaten the blooming process. In 2020, strawberry and raspberry crops were severely damaged from rain, impacting many B.C. berry farmers. “We didn’t think we would have a great crop yield this year due to the excessive rain,” Randhawa says.

To make matters worse, harsh wind and rain set can set off a chain reaction of other problems.

Many of the farm’s blueberry flowers were lost to torrential downpour, which in turn, impacted pollination. With limited flowers and fewer bees leaving the hives, the blueberry plants weren’t able to grow to their full potential.

Although B.C.’s Lower Mainland has a moderate temperature, providing the perfect climate for growing blueberries, rainfall can threaten the blooming process.

Luckily, Boundary Bay Farm Market grows their blueberries in soil primarily consisting of peat, which helps to retain water and limits excessive water damage. Adding as an aside, Randhawa warns that blueberry farms in B.C.’s Lower Mainland need good drainage and irrigation to keep fields from flooding during fall and winter.

Luckily, Boundary Bay Farm Market grows their blueberries in soil primarily consisting of peat, which helps to retain water and limits excessive water damage.

The varying market price for fresh and frozen blueberries also poses a challenge for Boundary Bay Farm Market.

“At the beginning, the unpredictability was startling,” Randhawa says. To adjust, closer attention is now being paid to the North and South American blueberry industry; including planning their blueberry season around when the North and South American crops begin and end. Randhawa explains that staying consistent and focusing on the industry and its requirements has been extremely beneficial.

Currently, their operation grows the Reka, Duke, Bluecrop and Elliot varieties, but they’re always looking to try something new.

New varieties and sustainability

Since stepping into larger roles, Randhawa and her siblings have fresh ideas for their blueberry crops. Currently, their operation grows the Reka, Duke, Bluecrop and Elliot varieties, but they’re always looking to try something new.

Over the last few years, there have been multiple blueberry hybrids popping up in B.C. “We go through trial and error phases of seeing how blueberries grow in the different pH levels throughout our fields,” Randhawa says.

“We go through trial and error phases of seeing how blueberries grow in the different pH levels throughout our fields,” Randhawa says.

Testing out different varieties is not only important for innovations sake, but it may also help in conquering B.C.’s unpredictable weather patterns. Randhawa explains that continuing to grow new varieties may uncover what crop can best withstand the environmental factors of B.C.’s Lower Mainland. A discovery which could bring huge success to the family business.

Boundary Bay Farm Market also placed a larger emphasis on sustainably caring for their land. “Soil preservation is important to us, and for future generations, so we want to make sure we’re doing the least amount of damage via pesticides,” Randhawa says. Looking into methods of growing more organically and experimenting with how to protect crops throughout weather changes, has also helped reduce Boundary Bay Farm Market’s ecologic footprint.

Looking into methods of growing more organically and experimenting with how to protect crops throughout weather changes, has also helped reduce Boundary Bay Farm Market’s ecologic footprint.

A new chapter

Concentrating on growing the business remains the focus for Boundary Bay Farm Market. With new ideas and practices in place, Randhawa and her siblings look forward to 2021 when they’ll again sell the fruits of their labour to British Columbians.

Even with challenges still lingering, Randhawa is optimistic for the future and grateful for the legacy her parents have left her. “We are forever thankful for everything they’ve accomplished,” she says.