A chapter of Kelowna’s farming history has come to a close.
After 27 years in business, Benvoulin Road Strawberries has shuttered its doors to visitors looking to roam their fields and load up on the sweet fruits they
became famous for.
“We are getting older and we thought it was time to retire, so we did,” said the farm’s Linda Coupal.
Closing the u-pick operation after such a long run was a decision that’s left her and her husband with mixed feelings.
“There were a lot of people who supported our business and we got to know them over the years,” she said.
“They started coming here as a couple, then they would have kids and bring them here, and then as they got older, those kids would be here helping their parents.”
There are other aspects to the business she won’t be sad to say goodbye to, however.
“You know, Mother Nature sometimes can be a little harsh,” she said.
Echoing that sentiment, her husband Gabriel said closing down will open up a new avenue of opportunity to enjoy the simpler things in life.
“We are looking to adapting to a life of greater relaxation, leisure and less stress,” he said.
“There’s a lot of stress involved with bringing in a very delicate crop that’s susceptible to all sorts of environmental assaults and challenges. So, for the time being we are enjoying being here and not having to work here.”
News they’d be closing down had already circulated through the farm’s loyal customer base the year before, so there has been little confusion among those who have looked at the fallow fields.
That said, the Coupals said they miss those friendly faces.
“To them, I would like to say thank you so much for your support,” he said, adding that there’s something special about touching three generations of a family’s life.
“We’ve made numerous seasonal friends over the years. We will miss that component of our operation most of all.”
A small patch of fruit remains on the property—saved for family and friends–and those fruits have bloomed earlier than ever before.
Whether that would have meant a bumper crop remains to be seen, however.
Strawberries are the first berries to bloom in the Central Okanagan, and the city can still boast a number of commercial growers.
Next plants to bear fruit will be raspberries, then cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, apples and table grapes.