John Nurkowski grew vegetables for years at his property near Kelowna International Airport, but last year he decided to sign a lease agreement to grow table grapes and cherries instead. “The problem with growing vegetables is, the fruit stands make, like, a fair rate of return, or the vegetable stands. But to the guy who actually owns the land, it’s pretty marginal. It would meet our costs and that was about it.”
Nurkowski is concerned that vegetable producers don’t seem to get the same kind of financial support that some fruit growers do for crops that are mainly intended for the export market.
“If we’re giving $5 a tree for an export crop, who is the net beneficiary of support? It’s not Canadians. It’s not British Columbians. It’s people in Asia, people in Europe, people in the U.S. Right now as a vegetable grower, there is nothing. There is no support and yet those are the foods that during the summer, there’s lineups at some of these vegetable stands.”
According to the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, there are supports for vegetable producers in the form of programs that offer marketing, business planning, land matching, innovation and food safety funding. They can also access income protection programs for things like crop losses, or a decline in income due to market conditions, production losses or increased costs.