By Melanie Eksal
Special to OsoyoosToday
Two of the most unusually shaped apples grown in all of Canada last year were produced right here in the South Okanagan.
Billy Boerboom, owner and operator of The Apple Barn in Summerland, earned third and fourth places in the novelty category at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto last week.
“I’m amazed at what nature provides — they were bizarre-looking things. They were the wildest-looking apples,” said Mr. Boerboom.
Mr. Boerboom (whose last name means “farmer tree” in Dutch) has entered the contest three times over the span of his career.
“I’m really grateful the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association came out (to The Apple Barn) — they represent us as growers. They picked the fruit after I tell them what varieties I want to enter. They select what they think will be the winners,” he explained.
Mr. Boerboom has been growing fruit nearly all his life. He immigrated to Canada with his family in 1976 from Holland and his dad operated a tree nursery he opened in 1980. The trees they grew were then planted in 1988 for the family orchard where The Apple Barn now stands.
The business is perhaps best known for the shed on Jones Flat Road where people can help themselves to low-cost apples all year round on the honour system.
Despite thefts of the money jar in the past, Mr. Boerboom has kept the honour system going for 12 years and is always up for sharing suggestions on how to cook or bake with the apples just the way his mom did.
He donates apples to local schools so children have a healthy snack to eat, as well as to hockey teams and tournaments.
Melanie Eksal writes for the Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and The Herald share an informal editorial use agreement.