As you fill your basket with all the bounty of BC produce at Lepp Farm Market, do you ever stop to wonder how it all gets there? Let me share the process with you, which occurs twice a week, every week, during harvest season. These trips are twofold; sell our farmed goods to fruit markets along the highway, and bring back as much Okanagan fruit as the truck will carry. Each Sunday and Wednesday, Farmer Rob settles himself at our kitchen island and starts calling the 30 or so fruit markets on his list. How many of our strawberries, bins of corn, pickling cukes, and green and yellow beans would you like on this load? Also, what are you currently harvesting at your farm that I’m able to purchase? He submits the final order of what needs to be picked and packed to Mike on our farm, writes out all the invoices, and lays his weary head down on the pillow.
Early Monday and Thursday morning, after loading the truck, he’s on the road. Once he hits Keremeos, he starts zigzagging his way through Keremeos and Cawston, dropping off our Lepp Farm grown produce at many of the fruit markets that line the highway. By the time he arrives in Osoyoos, several market managers from the Kootenays are awaiting his arrival of precious Fraser Valley produce. They load up their trucks and begin their drive back to their markets.
Then, the second leg of the trip begins as Rob zigzags between all the different markets along the Osoyoos – Oliver highway and drops off the rest. Once he reaches King Tomato in Oliver, he turns around and weaves back to Osoyoos, now loading up all he’s purchased to fill our market bins with fresh Okanagan offerings. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, plums, pears, extra peaches, melons – whatever looks fresh and attractive in the farmers’ coolers. Each item he brings home for your enjoyment represents a relationship he has built with a farmer. People who are are as passionate about what they grow as Rob is about our farmed products.
Lastly, he stops at our orchards in the Okanagan to load our harvest for the week. A quick bite of supper, a 4 am set on his alarm so he can be home in time to get the produce to market. He can finally lay his weary head down at our Osoyoos orchard home for a short night’s sleep.
As gruelling as this sounds, trust me when I say Farmer Rob is in his happy place. Of all the different tasks we’ve had to learn since opening the market, none gives him more pleasure than his twice-weekly orchard trips. He loves being on the road in his Peterbilt truck, loves connecting with all the different farmers. Most importantly, he loves bringing you the best local fruit and veggies he can find. I often wonder when his limitless energy will start to fade, but as he nears 60, I don’t see any sign of it happening yet. It gives us both so much joy to see the produce department spilling over with colourful local produce, knowing how much you love and appreciate it.