Abundance, beauty, and gratitude during Press Fest

Web Lead

Paris Marshall Smith

Abundance. Beauty. Gratitude. It’s fall, this great season of so much. The colours of leaves, fruit, vegetables… and to that we celebrated you Creston and District with a Press Fest!

Hopefully you joined us for the pressing fun on October 4th.  Fields Forward pressed apples and pears and sent kids and schools home with boxes of juice. All fruit pressed was given to schools for use in their meals programs or as a fundraiser, with thanks to donations from Purple House Farm, Shukin Orchards and William Tell Orchard.

Last month, I wrote about the project Fields Forward is exploring – a mobile fruit and vegetable press for Creston and District. The model Fields Forward is interested in purchasing came to town last week. It is an assembly of industrial scale machines with the capacity to process up to 20, 000 lbs of fruit daily. The equipment is manufactured by Kreuzmayr Corporation in Austria and assembled and sold by Mobile Juicing Systems in Vernon, BC.

It is mounted on a stainless steel trailer with a canvas covering, openable walls, and measures 20’ long, 7.5’ wide and 10’ high. It weighs approximately 5.5 tons.  It is an automated system that includes a bin dumper, washer, grinder, single belt press, de-stoning and pulping machine, pressure washer, jump pump, pasteurizer, and bag in box filler. It’s designed to be transported to orchard sites and is operable by two people.

Owning this level of processing equipment in our District, and making it available to producers means we are able to do more with what we have.  Current availability of this type of processing equipment requires renting it from the Okanagan at a significant cost for restricted periods of time that do not allow for full market access.

Making a mobile, rather than a fixed processing infrastructure asset minimizes transportation costs for orchardists, allows fruit to be juiced in a more timely fashion, preserves quality, and increases efficiency of yield and processing time.  It also means that waste mash is kept on site for composting, or as feed for animals, rather than re-transported back to the farm.

So much more than a press! As with all that Fields Forward is trying to do, as the planning and movement forward continues, Fields Forward wants to add value to the community by extending the learning and growth opportunities to anyone interested in participating.

For example, co-marketing, or building a regional brand. As new value added products are developed in our region,  Fields Forward is offering support for marketing, branding and communication strategizing. In planning for the juice and the products it will produce, a marketer has been hired. The market research gathered and the strategies developed invite in producers who may not have the experience or knowledge of how to build a brand or where to market it. Contact Fields Forward if you want to learn more about how to market and brand your product.

October is a month full of opportunities for learning. On October 18th and 19th, Fields Forward is co-hosting a two-day Agri-Food Business Planning workshop for producers who are interested in adding a value added component to their operation. Highly recommended for those with active farms that want to bring value added elements to their operations. Have a product you are starting or interested in starting? This workshop is for you! Cost is $105 for two days and includes lunch. To register: rita@partnersforgrowth.ca

On October 22nd (please note change of date), Fields Forward is co-hosting Think Like a Farmer – New Farm Start-up workshop for people interested in getting into farming. This is a full day event, includes lunch and is free to those who register – paris@fieldsforward.ca

The Creston Valley Harvest Share is a tremendous asset in our community. Clayton Fenrick’s dedication to responding to homeowner’s overwhelming desire to share in the surplus and building relationships goes far beyond the thousands of pounds of fruit gleaned and redistributed in our region. It is about building a stronger local food system through connection and relationship. Fields Forward is working with Harvest Share to support its mission and expand its scope of impact.

Curious to know more or have something you would like to contribute – contact Fields Forward – paris@fieldsforward.ca