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Apple grower offers U-pick in response to scarce farm labour

An Osoyoos apple grower has turned his orchard into a U-pick operation with plans to donate the proceeds to charity after encountering a shortage of pickers in the valley recently.
An Osoyoos apple grower has turned his orchard into a U-pick operation with plans to donate the proceeds to charity after encountering a shortage of pickers in the valley recently.

Osoyoos apple grower Jack Relvas is getting creative this year as COVID-19 creates a shortage of apple pickers.

Relvas recently posted a message to social media offering the remainder of his gala apples for U-pick, with customers paying by donation. He plans to donate 100 per cent of the proceeds to BC Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.

“There’s just nobody around. I’ve tried to get help, but there just isn’t anyone. We always used to get foreign workers and people from Quebec but this year, there’s nobody,” Relvas says.

He’s picked most of what he can pick himself.

He suffers from back issues and his "giraffe" apple picking lift recently broke down.

"These apples got a little too ripe to send to the packinghouse, so that’s the reason I’m going to U-pick,” he says.

Relvas’s grandson has cancer, which is the motive behind donating the proceeds.

Relvas has two and a half acres of apples, yielding 130 bins.

He still has 40 bins of gala apples on the trees and is hoping people will be interested in picking their own fruit.

"I've had quite a few calls, so far," he says.

“Everybody that you talk to is having trouble finding help, except for those who bring in foreign labour every year. All the ones who aren’t organized that way are going to have trouble getting help,”  Relvas says.

Those wishing to pick their own apples should call Jack ahead of time at 250-498-9907 and bring their own containers.


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