B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Denman Island Heritage Apples

Posted by Melanie Buffel on March 23, 2020

Young Agrarians is celebrating 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 develop the skills necessary to operate ecologically sustainable and financially viable farm businesses. We love to profile our program participants and celebrate their efforts!

My name is Kate Janeway from Denman Island Heritage Apples and my Mentors are Chris Bodnar from Close to Home Organics and Kent Mullinex, Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at Kwatlan Polytechnic University.

 Where do you farm?

I farm on Denman Island, one of the Northern Gulf Islands in the Straight of Georgia in beautiful BC.

 What do you farm?

I run a fruit tree nursery, specializing in summer grafting heritage varieties of apples.  

What inspired you to get into farming?

I was first inspired during my time at university, I took a few classes specifically dedicated to organic agriculture and agriculture policy and it really opened my eyes to the potential of farming as a possible passion and career.

What did you do to learn how to farm?

I took as many relevant classes at possible while I was at school, and followed up with a permaculture design course right after graduating. Once out of school I’ve been very self directed, devouring books and resources, and working with mentors  for the specific skills relating to fruit tree grafting and growing.

What types of ecological farm practices do you use?

The farm is uncertified organic.

Grafting wrapping the bud.
Grafting wrapping the bud.

What type of business structure is your farm?

I operate as a sole proprietor.

How much land is under production on your farm?

About 2 acres.

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

I’m lucky to be able to lease land from my family.

Why did you apply for business mentorship?

To give my small business the best possible chance of success by learning from other experienced farmers!

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

Probably the wild fluctuations in busy-ness and down time!

Transparent apples in bloom.
Transparent apples in bloom.

What is your primary business goal for the season?

To grow a hobby into a full time income. To better gain a better understanding of the cost/benefits of each areas of business (juicing, tree sales, pruning, consulting) and use this to assess which should be my areas of focus going forward.

What business tools could you not live without?

Excel, it’s a wonderful too for sorting the tree inventories throughout the year.

If you had a farming robot what would it be?

If I could have any robot or tool it would be a DNA tester I could bring to the field to help me identify all the types of apples I come across in my work!

How can we find out more about you, your farm, and its products? (website, FB, insta, twitter handles)

W: denmanapple.ca  IG:@denmanislandheritageapples

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

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