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The History of Agriculture in Osoyoos

From Sagebrush to Fruit Trees

by Adam Cumine
(excerpt from article published in the Okanagan Historical Society's 47th Report, 1983, pp. 131-136)

The next job was to plow up four acres of land for the coming crop.  My knowledge of this type of farming was nil.  How to plant cantaloupes or what they looked like, I hadn’t the slightest idea.  Nevertheless, I planted 4 acres of cantaloupes and much to my surprise they came up beautifully…

Because mice had been eating some of the cantaloupe plants, my wife spent her honeymoon transplanting cantaloupes.  Well, we had a wonderful crop of melons; we packed out 1,000 40-lb crates.  On my visits to the packinghouse it seemed to me they were packing the culls and tossing out the good ones.  The net result for my work was $400.00

We then decided to go up the valley and find work.  The first job was picking peaches for C.A.C. Steward in Oliver.  We then continued up the valley.  In Kelowna my wife got a job sorting fruit and I went to work at the Black Mountain Dam.  We returned in the late fall with $800.00.

When we got home, I built a small greenhouse and decided to grown tomatoes.  Much to my amazement we grew a nice lot of plants.  I was told that unless I had them early the results would be disappointing; yet, if I planted before the snow was gone off of Mt. Kobau we could have frost.  I decided to take a chance and put out 3,000 plants and they appeared to be doing well.  Some nine days later the weather turned cold and there was every indication of frost.  I harnessed up the old black horse, hitched him up to the little plough and went up and down the rows of tomatoes to plow a light layer of soil over the plants.  We had three nights of heavy frost.  On the fourth day I started to uncover the plants.  After two days on my hands and knees, I was back in business.  That year we were the first on the open market and made some $1,200.00.  The next year I bought 3,000 second-hand gunny sacks, cut them in half, and as I planted, laid a half sack by each plant.  That year again we did very well.

That spring we had also planted 1,300 young fruit trees.  The following winter was extremely cold and by the following spring we had lost them all excepting some 65 or so trees.