B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Blackwater Creek Orchard

Posted by Melanie Buffel on October 29, 2019

Young Agrarians is going into the sixth year of the Business Mentorship Network (BMN) Program. The BMN offers business mentorships  to a diverse array of new and young farmers across BC. Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, young farmers develops the skills necessary to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. We love to profile our program participants and celebrate their efforts!

Applications now open for the 2019/2020 season. APPLY NOW!

Deadline extended to Monday, November 18th, 2019 – Program Application here!

What is your name, where do you farm, and who are your mentors?

Our names are Riley Peterson and Olivia Kester and we operate Blackwater Creek Orchard in Devine, just north of Pemberton in British Columbia. Our Mentor is Seann Dory of Salt and Harrow Farm in Parksville, BC.

What do you farm?

We grow a large assortment of fruits including apples, cherries, pears, plums, apricots, grapes, watermelons, melons, tomatoes, ground cherries, and strawberries. 

What type of business structure is your farm?

We are currently a sole proprietorship operation. 

What is your land tenure? Are there special relationships that allow for this?

The land is currently owned by my grandmother, who had established the orchard with her husband back in 1978.

What inspired you to get into farming?

Riley: I had always had a strong desire to make my living off the land, and when the opportunity  presented itself to take over the family farm, I couldn’t refuse! Since I was young I had always loved to garden so I figured running an orchard wouldn’t be too bad.

Olivia: I came to farming from tree planting, where I had already discovered that I loved working outside. Farming brought this beautiful balance of working outside, but also using your brain for all of the planning and knowledge around each crop. I also feel like taking back the land and growing food in organic and sustainable ways is how I can make a positive impact in this world. 

Blacwater Creek Orchard, Olivia by the pick up.
Blacwater Creek Orchard, Olivia by the pick up.

Why did you apply for business mentorship?

While we both had veggie farming experience neither of us had worked on a commercial orchard before or had run a business before. I had been to a few YA events and had heard good things about their mentorship program. So we decided to apply!

What is the greatest business challenge you face as a young farmer?

Untangling the harsh complicated world of business taxes and record keeping. Additionally it hasn’t been easy making predictions on how the old trees of our orchard will produce, and that creates uncertainty in our planning. 

What is your primary business goal for the season?

To break even and to gain a following in the region.

What business tools could you not live without?

Quickbooks and a million note pads.

If you had a farming robot what would it be?

A robot tractor that could till our rows straight and mow our steep hills. 

Where can I find out more?

FB: Blackwater Creek Orchard

Instagram: @blackwatercreekorchard

The Business Mentorship Network Program is now accepting applications for the 2020 cohort. Check out the Business Page for more information and fill in the application here. Application deadline is November 18, 2019.

This program is made possible with the generous funding support of Vancity, Province of British Columbia, and Columbia Basin Trust.

Blackwater Creek Orchard
Blackwater Creek Orchard

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