Rectangle.jpg

It’s All Here Now

Agriculture / Viticulture

Did you know the first apple trees in the Okanagan were planted 160 years ago?

Drone-monitored cherries, crowd-funded sheep and an apple that doesn’t brown – agriculture in the Okanagan has come a long way since 1859. The 2017 release of the Federal Barton Report, Unleashing the Growth Potential of Key Sectors, identified Canada’s opportunity to be a trusted global leader in safe, nutritious and sustainable food for the 21st century and the Central Okanagan is ready.

Find out more in the COEDC’s Agriculture and Viticulture Industry Profile

Ag Photo124-darrenhull-edc2-BC3C8307e.jpg

Sector Overview

The Central Okanagan has a long history of agricultural excellence, from the first apple trees planted in 1859, to the economic driver it is today. Agriculture in the region is supported by food processing facilities, adminstration infrastructure, post-secondary horticulture and agriculture programs, reliable transportation routes, and proximity to dense population centres. While agriculture parcels are smaller comparative to the Canadian prairie provinces due to geographical limitations of lakes and mountainous terrain, agriculture in the region benefits from the soil, topography and hot, sunny, dry climate.

M Stark Leader_Pear Tree.jpg

Industry Highlights

  • High quality farm operations with diverse offering of products including tree fruits (apples, cherries, plums, pears, peaches and apricots), vegetables and farm animals (chickens, sheep, goats, pigs, cows and horses)
  • There are 870 farms in the Central Okanagan employing 4467 people
  • 794 agri-food businesses in the Central Okanagan
  • 299 fruit and tree nut farming businesses
  • 74 beverage manufacturing businesses including kombucha, mead, spirits and cider
  • 65 animal producers
  • 65 greenhouse, nursery and floriculture producers
  • The Okanagan Valley has 85% of the total vineyard acreage in BC
  • The Okanagan Valley has 250 km of vineyards, representing over 8600 acres planted
  • BC wine industry employs 12,000 people and has an economic impact of $2.8 billion annually
  • The Okanagan Valley has 84% of the total vineyard acreage of BC
  • The Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) protects 6,000 hectares of prime agricultural land within BC, the ALR constitutes approximately 9% of the Central Okanagan's agricultural land

Employment Information

The talent pipeline is supported by responsive public post-secondary institutions and directed regional attraction and retention initiatives. Okanagan College offers training in viticulture and horticulture. The University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus offers partnerships in laboratory research and field-based work to support environmental sustainability, enhance understanding of local ecology, and adapt to climate change.
Central Okanagan Agriculture
Total Business 642
W/O Employees 426
W Employees 216
1-4 96
5-9 46
10-19 37
20-49 18
50-99 9
100-199 6
200-499 3
500+ 1

 

NOC

Median Wage

Central Okanaga

Median Wage

British Columbia

911 - Manufacturing Managers (Winery Manager)  $38.46/HR $38.46/HR
2225 - Landscape and Horticulture Technicians and Specialists  $23.75/HR $23.75/HR
8252  - Ag Service Contractors, Farm Supervisors, and pecialized Livestock Workers

$15.00/HR

$15.00/HR
8431 - General Farm Worker

$15.00/HR

$15.00/HR
8432 - Nursery and Greenhouse Workers $13.73/HR $12.50/HR
8611 - Harvesting Labourers $15.00/HR $11.35/HR
9461 - Wine Fermenter, Wine Pasteurizer, Winemaker, Winery Cellarman/Woman, Winery Press Operator $15.65/HR $15.65/HR

Competitive Advantages

  • Soil, topography and hot, sunny, dry climate provide an excellent agriculture environment
  • Effective, innovative and sustainable sector wide pest management practices to prevent or minimize the impact of pests on crops including the Provincial Plant Health Strategy and programs like Sterile Insect Release Program
  • Talent pipeline supported by responsive public post-secondary institutions and directed regional attraction and retention initiatives
  • Proximity to Summerland Research and Development Centre, and local research support facilities at The University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus (UBCO) and Okanagan College (OC)
  • Geographic proximity to key markets and reliable transportation routes (Port of Vancouver, YVR, YLW)
  • The 2014 China Cherry Trade Agreement increased access to China, the number one cherry market in the world, resulting in an increase of tonnes of BC cherries shipped from 450 tonnes to over 4,000 tones annually - almost 80% of all cherries grown in the Okanagan.

Local Success Stories

Examples of agriculture firms in the Central Okanagan include:

SunRype Products Ltd, a fruit based food and beverage manufacturer. Full Time Employees: 400

AgriForest Bio-Technologies, a plant bio-technology company involved in applied research leading to commercial production of economically important varieties of fruit trees, berries, grapevine, horticulture plants and medicinal plants through plant tissue culture techology. Full Time Employees: 3-10

BC Tree Fruits Cooperative promotes, packages, and transports most fresh tree fruit in BC's interior. Full Time Employees: 501-1,000

Gray Monk Winery founded in 1972 located on 75 acres of vineyards in Lake Country. Full Time Employees: 42-56

Scenic Road Cidery located on a century old apple orchard produces authentic craft cider from 100% local apples. Full Time Employees: 4

Home Is Where The Harvest Is

Jealous Fruits, a family-owned business, is the leader in the British Columbian export cherry industry, and their namesake brand is the the foremost Canadian cherry brand worldwide.  While Jealous Fruits was founded in 2008, the family farm Coral Beaach Farms has been producing cherries since 1903 and current ownership is 4th generation.  A vertically integrated farming and food processing business model, Jealous Fruits produces cherries, primarily fresh but also pitted and flash frozen, to over 30 countries globally with their largest markets being China and the USA.  Full Time Employees:  15 full-time year-round; 900 employees during peak season.

Made with Love, Light, and Gratitude

Founded in 1995 Little Creek Dressing is a family owned and operated food processing company creating wholesome, flavourful dressings and marinades that support Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, and a Healthy Planet.  Made using the highest quality of organic ingredients each dressing has its own unique artisan flavour from the perfectly paired vinegar, fruit and spice combinations.  All dressings are organic, vegan, and produced using renewably-sourced energy.  Little Creek Dressing is committed to providing delicious earth conscious products to customers in markets globally.  Full Time Employees: 10