Meet the Farmers – Shane Wytke
In this blog series, we’ve been catching up with the orchardists whose stories are featured on our website. This month, we connected with Shane Witzke, who we last visited in September 2019. You can see that video here: Click Here
Shane tells us that Covid-19 brought on several challenges on a personal and business level. He is still unable to visit his mom who lives in a care facility. He also had some issues bringing in a work force from Mexico, as well as dealing with some government agencies and their strategies for managing Covid on farms.
Despite these challenges, there is some very good news. “The industry is going through a period of change, and my outlook is far more stable and profitable,” Shane reports. “I’m finally able to plan for the future and I am expecting modernization, similar to that which is occurring on farms around the world, to start taking place on my own orchard.”
Shane is a trained equipment operator (see attached photo), so he could have stuck to that line of work, but the allure of being his own boss in control of his destiny, was hard to beat. He does most of the work at the orchard, “As my dad is slowing down and gearing up for retirement I’m taking over more and more,” he tells us. “I hire mostly Mexican workers and a few close friends.”
Shane loves growing Ambrosia apples. “It’s a relatively easy apple to grow, and it fits well into the timeline of when other fruits I grow come ripe for harvest,” he tells us. “Plus, there is a steady demand of high quality Ambrosia apples, especially in markets outside of Canada, who demand – and pay for – high quality produce.”
Shane believes that there seems to be a disconnect between all types of food production and consumers. “There is a lot of work that goes on at the farm year-round,” he says. “I do not rely on magic and unicorn urine or imported tiger milk to grow high quality apples. There is a lot of science, years of experience, and hard work that go into our fruit. If consumers truly wish to help farmers, the best piece of advice is simple: Tell your local grocery store produce managers you want locally grown high quality produce, AND that you’re willing to pay for it.”
Thanks Shane! Happy growing!