Before moving to Lake Country and purchasing Frank’s Orchard, California residents Jamie and Glenn Rose did plenty of research on what it would take to make for a successful farm operation.
In their native California, farm operations were able to add value to their business in a variety of ways, including the ability to host events like weddings on their land.
“Where I come from, if you own a farm it’s cool and it’s hip and trendy,” said Jamie at her operation, now called Rose Family Orchard and where her and her family have been trained by Walter Frank, who owned the farm since 1959.
“They don’t have as many regulations there. They have a lot of agri-tourism things that go hand-in-hand with farming.”
The Rose Family Orchard produces apples, cherries, plums, peaches and grapes on 10.4 acres. There is a small pond on the property that the couple plans to fix up for weddings. Since buying the property, they have added a commercial kitchen to make specialty items and turned a storage shed into a storefront where they sell fruit and other things, like chocolate covered cherries.
“You have to diversify,” she said.
“On what I make on fruit alone, I wouldn’t survive with the property prices the way they are and with the fruit commodity prices the way they are. It’s not sustainable. But there are ways to make money if you are creative.”
Farmers have already been getting creative with concerts and different events being held on a regular basis at wineries and in orchards. But the regulations for events was clarified recently.
Previously, farmers would have had to go through a municipality, as well as the Agriculture Land Commission, to get approval to host a non-farm event within the Agriculture Land Reserve.
“A high proportion of the land base in Lake Country (44 per cent) is in the ALR,” said Mark Koch, the municipality’s director of planning.
“It’s always that balance to protect farm land for the future and also encourage the local economy and provide amenities and reasons for people to spend money in the community. I think this change is pretty positive knowing that it doesn’t allow for permanent structures.”
Farms that want to host weddings or other events can now move forward if they follow the regulations. According to the provincial government, land owners will not need a permit from the ALC to host specific activities.
“I am very happy with the new regulations for the most part,” said Jamie Rose.
“I think it’s a win for farmers and a good way to bridge the gap in allowing some freedom but not too much freedom, which is important.”
Rose says there needs to be more clarification in the regulations and she added she has already had interest from numerous community groups to have events in her orchard including a church group, women’s networking group and she also has a waiting list for weddings, despite the fact her land won’t be ready to host an event for another year.
“If I get three months of weekend events in a year, that’s more than the 10 you’re allowed,” she said.
“I would like to have more. What if I have someone who wants to host a birthday party? It’s all going to be beneficial to the community. People will have to stay in hotels and they’re going to go to the wineries.”