When friends and family come to visit we always do our best to get to as many sights as our guest want to see. Knowing that the lush and bountiful fruit production of the Okanagan Valley was on Mom’s “must see” list, we planned and prepared for a 5 day trek across the mountains and onward north through the lush valley followed by a loop back to Calgary. By day 2 of our odyssey, we arrived in Summerland and began planning the activities of what would morph into a whirlwind tour of the Kelowna area. From the very first cherry tree we passed, there was a growing restlessness in the car to stop for some fresh picked BC cherries. Despite there being being an abundance of local fruit stands and storefronts along our route, there were only a few with open signs. A couple unsuccessful stops later we actually found one that had small quantities of “you will have to do” early season cherries. It was explained to us that the spring weather had been very cold and wet which had delayed the normal growth and harvest by a couple weeks. A quick visit to the Kelowna Farmers Market did allow for the gathering of produce including fresh strawberries, along with onions, asparagus, farm fresh eggs and all the rest of the fixings for a frittata. We also couldn’t say no to some locally prepared samosas nor the deep fried and seasoned potato spiral on a stick.
After the farmers market we took a relaxing stroll along the lakeside boardwalk. The high spring waters were receding, but was still notably high and flood waters covered some sections of the pathway. Our walking tour eventually took us to the BC Tree Fruits Cooperative where we checked out their cider brewery operation. Eager to get a feeling for their products we paid a modest fee to sample some of their featured drinks including a very tasty pear cider and a tart apple cider. Based on the official scores and tasting notes, two of their offerings were purchased for later enjoyment in Calgary!
Thanks to the information available at the tourist information centre in Kelowna, we quickly discovered there is much to see and do in the surrounding area, so on our way out of town we stopped at the Lavender Farm. A stunning view and beautiful products was shadowed only by the overwhelming scents of the lavender bouquet in the shop. Despite being in bloom everywhere else, the lavender bushes at the farm were just starting to bud. That said, the beauty of this location with flowers in full bloom could be vividly imagined.
Our last stop before heading back to our hotel was to explore the Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm. While the driveway was perfectly constructed for a mountain goat, one of us managed to get the full sized suburban down the steep pitch of the narrow driveway and parked seamlessly outside the front door with only a few startled gasps from the back of the truck. While we shopped for cheese and goat’s milk ice-cream, the youngest of us (and his uncle) checked out the goats, prairie dogs and swallows in the barn.
We barely scratched the surface of what Kelowna has to offer, but a ram packed day of exploring and discovery has us craving more. When we return, we will be sure to time our travels to better overlap the fruit harvest and really get our hands sticky!