Summerland orchardist Keith Carlson prunes cherry trees in his orchard. Carlson

Cherry grower receives award of merit

Summerland orchardist Keith Carlson has received an award of merit from the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association.

Summerland orchardist Keith Carlson has received an award of merit from the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association.

Carlson has been growing sweet cherries in Summerland for 22 years.

Since 1998 he has been an independent cherry packer. His family business is Carcajou Fruit Company Limited and his box label is “Sweet Diamond.”

The Carlson and his wife Jan grow 40 acres of cherries in Summerland. The cherries are picked and packed with Global GAP certification and sold to markets in Europe, Asia, and Canada by Graem Nelson Associates Ltd. Carlson is well aware of the challenges of urban farming as many of his plantings are surrounded by residential housing while others border waterways and wilderness interface.

Carcajou Fruit uses the SmartHort traceability software system that Keith began developing 10 years ago. As a sideline, Keith sells bird netting and packing equipment.

Keith has served on a number of advisory committees for the BCFGA and the fruit industry. He chaired BC-GAP (the precursor to Canada-GAP); he was a member of BCAC’s funding review committee for environmental innovation; and is currently a member of the Agri-Flex committee for the BC tree fruit industry, to name just a few.

Carlson has been an executive member of the BCFGA, the Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers Association and the Okanagan Plant Improvement Company (PICO).

He is currently the president and chair of PICO( 2006-2012). In his capacity as PICO president, Carlson has been instrumental in the commercialization of Staccato cherries and Ambrosia apples. He has represented PICO in Chile (2009), Berlin’s Fruit Logistica (2010), Australia and New Zealand (2011).

Prior to his life as a cherry grower, Carlson owned an electrical contracting company in Norman Wells, NWT. After the Norman Wells pipeline was commissioned (1984), he worked as the electrical foreman for Interprovincial Pipeline Limited (the company now known as Enbridge).

When not engaged in agriculture, Keith likes to go mountain biking.

For further information on the Carlson orchard, see carcajoufruit.wordpress.com.