Big plans, big help

Leaving a small island is somewhat complicated, so when we do go, we make the trip as worthwhile as possible. On last week's trip we managed to cram in six supply pick-ups from the Lower Mainland to the Okanagan, and it's a relief to finally have our order of 1200 apple rootstock and our new (old) cider mill and press (top right & left).

With the help of Matthew's dad, we traveled to the BX Press Cidery in Vernon to purchase the mill and press they've been using since their opening in 2012. Missy, the cidermaker, is expanding her production and has purchased a new line--her timing couldn't have been better for us. With this setup we'll potentially be able to press 2500 liters of juice per day, which is significantly more than the wooden basket press we used last year. Additionally, it's more efficient: the traditional "rack and cloth" press on our new equipment extracts more juice out of the apple pomace. It's almost hard to enjoy the current summer-like weather with the fall apple season in our minds. Almost.

In the meantime, we've begun our grafting marathon now that our dwarfing rootstock is here. Over the last few months we received, purchased and gathered cider apple scionwood from cidermakers and apple growers on Pender Island, Lasqueti Island, the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and beyond. With 1200 trees and a limited amount of time to get them grafted, calloused, and into the nursery, it's a good thing we've had help: Karly from Shady Acre Farm and Keara from Tod Creek Cider ferried over to learn how to graft and help us out for a couple days.

It's amazing how many hands have contributed to this startup operation so far. I've also been noticing how a lot of that help has come from women: whether grunt-work in the field or nursery, cidermaking advice, pruning and tree-care advice, orchard supplies, business planning, home-cooked meals, social media strategies, and the like. It just reinforces the fact that women are leading the way in local food production, organic farming and community building--a movement we're truly excited to be a part of.