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ABOUT THE LAND
This is an opportunity to lease 6.5 acres of blueberry orchard in a low-lying, fertile peat bog in the heart of the Cowichan Valley. The bushes are very well established and were planted in approximately the 1970s and 1990s.
The peat soils hold water very well, and the orchard usually does not need irrigation, but flood irrigation infrastructure is in place. The perimeter of the orchard is deer fenced, and though some repairs could be made deer are not a huge problem.
Access is from an internal farm road that runs though the 40 acre property.
ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY
This orchard lease is available as a profit share, and on a year-to-year basis to initially with potential for the long term if the arrangement is going well. Annual berry harvests generally range from a very good year of 60,000 lbs, to a low yield year of 30,000 lbs, with an average of about 30-40,000 lbs. Berries are usually sold at a rate of $4.50 per pound.
A farm store to sell the blueberries from, with deep freezers, fridges and cashier is part of this opportunity, as is the long established loyal customer list. A back room for packing and sorting includes a sorting machine (usually staffed by 3-4 people at a time, paid $15.20 per hour).
A tractor with trailer, sprayer, flail mower and roto-tiller is available to the leasing farmer. A picker attachment is also available for use if wanted by the farmer, but the bushes need to be pruned back significantly for the picker to fit.
The orchard is usually sprayed with a fungicide for mummy berry 1-2 times in the spring, and a leasing farmer would likely want to maintain this practice. The field floods from November to March, so pruning is best done once the field is dry enough in March/early spring. A book of records of all maintenance done to the orchard is available for the leasing farmer’s reference.
A large portion of the orchard has been run as a U-Pick operation in the past, which the leasing farmer could continue with if they are comfortable with the high insurance rates needed for running U-Pick activities. The area that was historically U-Pick has not been pruned in recent years.
The business has more recently been run with hired pickers only, usually 5-12 people at a time in the two month window the berries are harvested. Pickers have been paid at a rate of $1.10 per pound and the owners have a list of pickers who come back year after year.
The leasing farmer is welcome to bring their own accommodation such as an RV to the land for the harvest season. Also available for lease if desired are approximately 60 apple trees, a workshop space and half of the existing approximately 50×50 garden.
GET IN TOUCH
This land opportunity is available through the B.C. Land Matching Program. Reach out to the Vancouver Island Land Matcher at email@example.com to start a conversation and learn about next steps.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded on Vancouver Island by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Cowichan Valley Regional District and Patagonia.