Yep, we're growing that many different types of apples. It's an incredible collection of classic heirloom and wonderful connoisseur varieties. And almost none are what you'll find filling the bins of most grocery stores. Read more
Rooms With a View
Salt Spring Island is an idyllic place to visit. And where better to stay than a room at the B&B @ Salt Spring Apple Company? Perfectly located and open year-round.
A century ago and more, Salt Spring Island was British Columbia’s primary source of fresh apples. Salt Spring apples were grown, sold and consumed in quantity on the Island and were shipped to the nearby cities of Victoria and Vancouver as well as across Western Canada.
In 1894, the B.C. Government reported that Salt Spring Islanders had planted some 13,739 apple trees. These were huge, productive standard-sized trees, each capable of producing many bushels of fruit each year. By early in the 20th century, an estimated 20,000 bushel boxes – 360,000 kilograms of apples – were shipped off the island each year.
Salt Spring was B.C.’s fruit basket in those days because its mild climate, decent soils and accessibility to the province’s two largest cities made it an ideal place to grow apples.
But that was before industrial agriculture changed the nature of food production – and almost every Canadian community’s landscape – in a fundamental way.
This change took only a few decades to occur, but its implications have been lasting. Cheap fossil fuels – and the gas-guzzling technologies they fostered – made it possible.
Fossil fuels were transformational, enabling:
Huge mechanized farms, including orchards.
Extensive use of chemicals – many of them derived from fossil fuels – to eliminate pests, unwelcome plants and disease and to induce increased production.
Inexpensive long-distance trucking.
This 20th century emergence of a fossil-fuel-based economy led to the production of apples – and virtually everything else we consume – shifting from close-to-home to distant locales.
Inexpensive mass-grown ‘conventionally-produced’ apples, mainly from the Okanagan Valley and Washington State eventually drove Salt Spring Island’s apples from the marketplace. Since the 1920s, Salt Spring apple growing has been mainly for novelty and nostalgia.
It’s not just Salt Spring’s apple exports that dried up; even production for local consumption declined. As a result, the vast majority of apples now consumed on the Island come from elsewhere.
It’s almost as if the attributes that once made the Island an apple haven had never really existed.