I am Dutch so there are deep roots of farming in my family on my mom's side that go back hundreds of years. Most were vegetable and dairy farmers.
My grandfather, although not a farmer, started the Dutch company called 'Koornstra & Co' which is a produce wholesaler company. Just after the war, at the age of 25, when there were very few jobs available, he started buying grapes from local farmers (he lived in an area in Holland famous for its many greenhouses) and took them on his bicycle to buyers.
Soon he started buying more and more, growing his business by purchasing produce trucks and exporting both fruits and vegetables to Germany and England. My grandfather partnered with 2 of his 8 siblings and today, the company remains a thriving family business that has been passed down to his nephews and their children.
The reason we chose to farm is because we had a 3 acre horse pasture and no horses! The field had nothing in it at all and the kids did not even play in it. So we thought the land was being wasted. I thought it would be nice to grow something and a great way to be a stay-at-home-mom while bringing in extra income.
Before we moved to Vernon from Ontario, when the kids were just 1, 3 & 4 years old, I had started another business. I was trying to create a new spread. It had the consistency and texture of peanut butter but I had created strawberry/vanilla, coconut/pineapple and banana/cinnamon flavours. I worked on it for several years and even had it tested for shelf-life at the University of Guelph.
Then my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I was completely burnt out and let the venture go. So when we moved to BC several years later, I was very aware that I did not want to grow something that would be too challenging (such as creating a new spread).
I actually do not have a green thumb and kill every house plant I've ever had! So I knew it had to be something easy like a bush. Something hardy that was hard to kill. That did not immediately die if I did not get the irrigation right (like a strawberry plant) and that I did not have to wait 5-8 years for it to bear fruit (like a tree). So I was looking for a bush that had something unique, healthy and yummy. I figured almost everyone loves berries.
After searching the internet for 2 weeks, I stumbled across the haskap berry and felt that it would be a winner and the next biggest thing. Little did I know the amount of time, effort, money and challenges that lay ahead. Had I known, I likely would have walked away. But this business is hard to give up on because you can see it every time you look out the window!
Five years into it, we feel that we have overcome most of the challenges. Thankfully, this farm turned out to be a success and my calling...
- Amber Stamm’ler