Meet Your BC Ambrosia Apple Growers – Meet The MacDonalds
We first met the MacDonalds in 2013, when we experienced the first Ambrosia apples picked for that season. You can view the video here: CLICK HERE
Ambrosia apples were an easy choice for Richard and Denise. “Whenever an apple like Ambrosia comes along it is of great excitement for growers,” Richard tells us. “Growers take pride in producing a high-quality product and strive for excellence when new products come along. Not only does the Ambrosia apple have great market appeal for the consumer, but there are many things that the consumer would never know.
“To have a tree that has a great growth habit and produces top quality consistent fruit is very important at the grower level. The Ambrosia tree has a growth habit that fits well into modern growing cultural practice: the size of the tree is controllable; the pruning from tree to tree can be done uniformly; the size of the apples is relatively easy to control by crop load and pruning; and the number of good fruits per tree that reach the consumer is very high. All these things are very important at the grower level.”
Richard is a passionate and natural farmer, and he has always loved the life because of the diversity of tasks, the knowledge required, and the ability to work outdoors. “I especially love the early mornings,” he says, “and I love it when the season is over!”
For Denise, it’s “the spring, the harvest, and everything in between.”
The MacDonalds remind us that the life of an orchardist is not easy, though. Farming of all types still does not provide the financial gains that should be associated with the risks and work required, and it’s very hard on the body.
After more than 40 years of farming, Richard and Denise are approaching retirement and wondering what to do with themselves — and the farm — when that happens. “We are struggling with an exit strategy, a way to taper out,” says Richard. “Our children have experienced growing up on a farm and they have now diversified into various fields. The last thing that they want to do is get into farming!”
Richard reminds us of the bumper sticker that says: “When you complain about farmers try not to do it with a full mouth.”
“I read recently from the stats of 50 years ago, that 50% of Canadians had some sort of direct tie to the farming industry, he says. “Now it is 2%. That is a lot of people who don’t know a lot about where their food comes from. It took quite a bit of work to get that food to your table, and behind your food – no matter what you eat – is a person, a family, a face, and a story.”
We sincerely thank Richard and Denise for sharing their story with us and wish them all the best with their retirement plans.