A Cawston farmer will be heading to Saskatoon later this year to represent the province as the best farmer in B.C.
Gurpreet Lidder, and his family’s Cawston business Lidder’s Produce, was recognized for being the best young farmer in B.C. and the Yukon after judging completed in Abbotsford on March 8.
While he is proud to have been selected as the best in the region, he is more excited to take the opportunity to highlight the quality of farmers in the Similkameen Valley.
“I feel it’s more of a community win rather than a personal win because I’m really proud to be from this area and to represent it,” said Lidder. “I think it’s just great for us to be recognized for the great work we do in our little valley.”
“We have so many passionate people in the valley. Hopefully, we can get some more recognition from a national level.”
Lidder is the third farmer from the valley to have claimed the top spot for B.C. and the Yukon in just over a decade, with Kevin Klippenstein and Troy and Sara Harker claiming the B.C. title in 2011 and 2013.
After being nominated, farmers have to fill out information for the judges before the finalists are invited to Abbotsford to give a presentation on their farms. The judges then have a few hours with the finalists while they ask several questions of their own on topics ranging from marketing to growing practices.
It’s not just an opportunity to show off what makes a farmer’s operation special to the judges, it’s a chance to learn a bit about how other farmers handle their business. One of the other finalists in B.C. was from Vancouver Island and was a chicken farmer, as well as beef.
For Lidder, the recognition is the product of years of work, since the days when his parents immigrated to Canada and purchased their own small farm in the valley. Now, Lidder farms 80 acres of land in the valley, and another 168 hectares in partnership with his uncle in Keremeos. Growing up, he spent summers working with his parents before coming back after university around 2006.
“In ‘95 they ended up setting up their fruit stand in Cawston, me and my siblings would work there,” said Lidder. “I came back with a business degree and I got more involved with the farm operations, and we slowly grew.”
Along with his parents, Dave and Satpal, Gurpreet’s wife Sharanpreet and two sons, Javraj and Eshaan, also work on the farm operation.
They also have their own packing house, and the roadside stand where they sell some of their produce. The rest is sold to a variety of other vendors, including large grocers like Loblaws and Sobeys, and to markets in Asia.
“I think things that worked for us are that we do market ourselves, even though we’re a small farm we do deal with national retailers, we have established direct relationships with them, I think they were impressed by that,” said Lidder.
While they grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables, apples are their biggest focus.
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