Winning “Vendor of the Year” from the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets is a tall order for any farm, but the Forbes family operation in Oliver can’t ignore the bittersweet taste in its mouth.
For organic farmer Gordon Forbes, the irony is huge as he continues to wait for the Ministry of Agriculture to compensate him for lost productivity.
Years ago the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative resulted in two local farms in Oliver being negatively impacted when their water systems were compromised, which meant they couldn’t irrigate their crops adequately. The situation was eventually rectified but the damage had already been done and the farmers sought compensation. They are still waiting.
In the meantime, Forbes is humbled by the recent award.
“We didn’t even know we were nominated,” Forbes said, adding they didn’t expect anything like this.
The Forbes family farm has been selling its produce at the Penticton Farmers’ Market for nearly 25 years, and in Kelowna for 20 years.
He said being able to sell local food to local people is very important to them. But he reiterated the irony in not being supported by the provincial government.
Forbes said they could have produced so much more food if the irrigation issue had been dealt with in a timely manner.
Now Forbes is considering transforming the farm into a vineyard due to the financial hardship.
“I’d rather be growing food for people, but I’ve got to make a living,” he said.
Gordon and Steve Forbes are second generation farmers who have been selling their certified organic produce for years.
The association noted the Forbes have a unique connection to their customers, many of whom they know by name.
In addition to their fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables, the brothers have a “basil bar,” allowing market-goers to smell six different varieties of basil.