Meet the Farmers – Natalina Araujo – PNA Orchards, Penticton
We visited the Araujo farm in Penticton, BC a few years ago, just as the Ambrosia apples were about to be harvested. Natalina showed us around and shared the story of how she went from working in an office to managing an orchard: Click Here for video.
When Natalina took over managing the farm in 2012, she wasn’t a total stranger to the farming way of life; she grew up in the region and loved being on the farm. She married a man whose family were farmers, and although she didn’t know much about growing apples, her father-in-law was happy to show her the ropes.
Since the video, Natalina and the gang at PNA have planted more Ambrosia apple trees. “In my opinion, it’s still the best apple to produce,” she tells us. “Its colour, taste, texture, and versatility are like none other on the market.”
Natalina still loves farming: “Working outdoors and nurturing the trees to produce good fruit is a lot of work but at the end of the harvest season I have a great sense of accomplishment and joy. It gives me great pleasure to know that someone somewhere is being nourished by the fruits of our labour.” The downside? “Lack of fair wages for Canadian farmers despite higher market prices and amidst increasing retail/consumer/federal demands,” she admits.
It’s a team effort at PNA. “The day to day activities are divided up between our two long-time employees, my husband, my father-in-law and myself,” says Natalina. “During harvest, the rest of the family — from the oldest grandparent to the youngest kid — lend their helping hands in any way possible.”
Natalina cautions that it’s not as simple as one might think. “I would encourage consumers to seek out and/or support educational opportunities for themselves and/or children to learn more about the intricacies of farming,” she suggests. “It’ll help our industry grow and makes us more appreciative of the edible gifts in life.”
If she wasn’t farming, Natalina would be working as a volunteer for church-based charitable organization like Canadian Food For Children (http://www.canadianfoodforchildren.net/) or Mary’s Meals (https://www.marysmeals.ca/). “I’ve come to realize that my passion for farming goes beyond my love for the land and family,” she says. “Health, nutrition, food security and sustainability are important to me. Knowing that the food I grow is contributing in a positive way to those things is a blessing. Ambrosia apples are a gift from God and I have the pleasure of nurturing that goodness for my own family as well as the people and communities we serve.”
“Food security and sustainability are concerns of many, neither of which is possible without farmers,” she says. “By tending to the needs of farmer’s we tend to the needs of our future. Strive to live well, by eating well and wasting less. Consumers that buy fresh, locally sourced, nature-packed whole foods (like BC’s Ambrosia apples) are supporting local communities and farmers like me. For that, I am very grateful.”