B.C. Business Mentorship Network – Peninsula Kiwis Update

Posted by Melanie Buffel on December 18, 2019

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 develops 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 Stuart Basset and I operate Peninsula Kiwi in the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. My Mentor is Chris Bodnar from Glorious Organics.

What were your goals for this season and how did you work to achieve those?

My goals were to improve production and connections with sales and to gain organic status and implement procedures for picking, packing etc.
Did you meet your goals / Did it work out? 

We definitely improved production and added a few more connections re sales. Still figuring a few things out on how to store and pack the fruit. Big learning curve this year for sure!

What were your most profitable avenues of sales?

Most profitable avenue will most probably be through a couple of small local grocery stores.

What is your unique value proposition in your market? Why buy from you?

We are the only “almost certified organic” kiwi on the peninsula, being grown by a Kiwi!

Kiwi flower
Kiwi flower in full bloom.

How did the mentorship impact your business?

This was year one for my business and Chris helped to steer me in the right direction in setting up the business and also had some great contacts for me.

What business skills have you gained through the mentorship?

I didn’t  have many business skills to start with, so I’ve gained a huge amount of knowledge throughout the mentorship on what it takes to run a successful farming business.

What was the most important information you gained from your mentor?

All of it was important!!

Overall, how are you feeling about your farm business this season?

It’s been growing and moving in the right direction, but definitely some teething issues to work through and make things even better next year!

Did you learn any lessons the hard way?

We are having some issues with storage at the moment, and working out the best way to ensure a fresh product.

Do you have any big plans for future growth?

We would love to apply for GAP and get some big distributors onboard as well as looking at different products that kiwi could be used in. I’m looking for a different variety of kiwi to graft which would better suit this climate. A gold or a red variety is what I’m looking for as that would also add value to this niche crop.

What are you most looking forward to this winter?

I look forward to giving the orchard a prune and doing the maintenance work to set the orchard up for another great crop! I’m going to try and sow some nitrogen fixing cover crops to help with the soil health and hopefully help with the plant growth. We need to stop treating our soil like dirt!

Kiwis on the vine!
Kiwis on the vine!

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