Editors Introduction:

For those who may not know, the COEDC’s Advisory Council is a conduit of information between business, community leaders and government. The council meets monthly to share information and work together towards sustainable economic growth. It is made up of 45 influential members consisting of industry leaders, community shapers and elected officials. One of these such members being Vice Chair, James Calissi!

The aim of the Meet the COEDC campaign, is to share with our community who the Economic Development Commission is and showcase the COEDC Advisory Council members who play a critical role guiding the regional economic development service.

James is a key member of the council, with extensive experience and knowledge in the agriculture industry. Since 2006, he has been the Owner and Operator of Calissi Farms located in East Kelowna. From its beginnings as an apple and cherry orchard in 1949, the family operated farm has since grown to be a nursery supplier to commercial orchardists and grape growers in the Okanagan Valley. As a rootstock supplier, Calissi Farms supplies a wide range of apple, cherry, pear and stone fruit rootstocks.

The farm also manages intellectual property world-wide for several fruit breeding programs. In 2010, Calissi Farms signed an agreement with the University of Guelph to commercialize cherry varieties developed in Ontario and worked with nurseries and fruit companies worldwide on the project.

To provide you with a glimpse into James’ extensive agricultural education and experience, he attended UBC for his bachelor’s degree in plant science, and master’s in agricultural economics. James has previously worked as a consultant for a wide variety of clients within BC’s agriculture and food industries and is a former manager of the Okanagan Plant Improvement Company.

Continuing reading to learn more about James’ outlook on industry specific trends and forecast for the Central Okanagan! And check back next Monday to meet a new member of the Advisory Council and learn why they love to live and work in the Central Okanagan!

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Q: What organization are you from and what is your role?

I am from the agricultural industry, focused on horticultural crops.

Our family has been farming in the Okanagan Valley since the 1940s.  I farm a property once owned by my grandfather and have changed the farm from an orchard to that of a nursery company. We produce fruit trees for commercial famers as well as manage intellectual property world-wide for several fruit breeding programs.

Q: What excites you about the future of your respective sector?

It is exciting to see the number of orchards and vineyards being replanted in the Okanagan.  Much of the fruit that is being grown in these farms is destined for new markets.  As well, there is a good group of young farmers taking helm of the industry.

In addition to new plantings, there is new investment in secondary processing such as wineries and packinghouses.  The processing facilities are in many cases state-of-the-art and will ensure the final product is up to world standards.

Q: Why is participating in the Advisory Council important to you?

The advisory council is unique in the area with industry and regional government representation.  The council works to bring these groups together to foster economic growth and stability in the region.  Supporting the staff that brings this together is worthwhile to me, giving me much satisfaction.

Q: Why do you love living and working in the Okanagan?

I have travelled to many like places in the world and lived in Vancouver for many years while I went to university.  I still find the Okanagan unique.  Yes, it has great landscapes and there is lots to do recreationally but it has economic growth and opportunity, allowing its people to have a good standard of living.