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Purchase of Salmon Arm orchard first step in planned move for DeMille’s

‘I’ve been an orchardist for nine days!’
DeMille’s Farm Market owner Brad DeMille recently purchased the historic Hanna family orchards that is currently home to Northyards Cider. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Brad DeMille’s upward momentum has begun with the purchase of an historic Salmon Arm orchard.

The DeMille’s Farm Market owner said he recently took ownership of the 29-acre Northyards Cider Co. property at 3181 11th Ave. NE. The property includes an extensive apple orchard that was tended to by the Hanna family for more than a century before it was sold to Northyards in 2021.

“I’ve been an orchardist for nine days!” laughed the DeMille, noting Northyards will continue operation as a lesee on the property where, if things go according to plan, DeMille’s Farm Market will relocate.

Unable to go into details behind the move, DeMille said he has about two-and-a-half years to move his 12,000-square-foot operation located at the west end of town. Of the two options he looked at, he said the uptown Salmon Arm location was the best.

“We have a lot of work to do up there still – the rezoning application, permission from Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), the city – all this stuff, so it’s not an automatic for sure,” said DeMille, noting he has a good relationship with the ALC and is optimistic.

“The idea of the land reserve, the ALC, is to make more farm land more viable and more food production. This should fall right within their target market. We are doing that and we want to do that but of course we need to have them onboard…

“I believe we’ve got the right formula…”

Part of that forumla is the orchard, which will continue to provide apples for Northyards.

“We’re in a supply agreement with them – there’s about 13 acres of trees there still in production,” said DeMille.

About 500 trees on another two acres are in the process of removed as DeMille explained they are “past their best before date.”

Read more: Northyards Cider Co. opens at historic Salmon Arm orchard

Read more: Cidery planned for Salmon Arm’s historic Hanna family orchards

“Those trees particularly had some age on them that… by the time you prune them and try getting them back, you’re probably never going to get your money on them…,” said DeMille. “Our intention is we have the trees already in our nursery ready for going in next spring. There’s 1,500 trees going back in to replace those 480 we’re taking out.”

The trees going in will grow honeycrisps, ambrosia and McIntosh apples.

“(McIntosh) have seen a real resurgence, especially as a juice apple, a cider apple – they’re very popular,” said DeMille.

DeMille is receiving guidance with this new agricultural endeavour. He’s working closely with Lally Sidhu of Keremeos’ Lally Orchard. He said Sidhu is the farm market’s largest supplier and that he and Sidhu have been doing business for the past 23 years.

DeMille said he’s also received input from the property’s former owner, James Hanna.

“James Hanna has been a great source of information for me,” said DeMille. “He’s walked me around the property so he’s helping me understand it and what he knows about it. Basically, him and his family had it for 110 years and we’re working very closely on advice from him directly in addition to what Lally sees.”

DeMille also has plans for parts of the property where nothing is currently growing.

“Of the 29 acres, there’s roughly 15 not treed now that are basically open grassland,” said DeMille. “We’re going to try and improve that… we’re going to be growing more food on there starting with squash and pumpkins and things like that, thinkgs that are going to be good for the land to build it back up…”

DeMille is also open to the idea of setting aside some space for a community garden.

Looking ahead, DeMille is already working on plans for community events at the uptown property, where he sees plenty of opportunity for the DeMille’s Farm Market brand to grow and flourish.

“When you visit Salmon Arm you go to DeMille’s and that opportunity – we can just make it so it’s such a great place to start your visit in Salmon Arm…,” said DeMille.

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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