iN PHOTOS: Historic North Okanagan ranch looks at microbrewery and 'glamping' to create revenue - InfoNews

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iN PHOTOS: Historic North Okanagan ranch looks at microbrewery and 'glamping' to create revenue

Historic O'Keefe Ranch finance and marketing manager Tim Gibson is hoping the City of Vernon will give the OK on two new recent money-making ideas.
March 27, 2019 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - It may seem like an unlikely addition for a place more associated with family days out, but a Vernon-area museum and heritage park is pitching a glamping campsite and microbrewery as "out of the box" money-making schemes.

As a way to generate much-needed revenue, the Historic O’Keefe Ranch is exploring the possibility of starting a glamping site - a type of upmarket camping - along with turning a roughly 10-acre cornfield into a place to grow hops with the potential to open a microbrewery.

"We're trying to think outside of the box," O'Keefe Ranch finance and marketing manager Tim Gibson told iNFOnews.ca. "We're trying to find innovative ways to generate revenue rather than the old model of relying on admissions or just grants alone."

Maintaining the historic buildings at the O'Keefe Ranch near Vernon does not come cheap.
Maintaining the historic buildings at the O'Keefe Ranch near Vernon does not come cheap.

With the City of Vernon as their landlord, the Ranch needs its support to implement their ideas. The ranch has asked the city to support a grant application so it can conduct a feasibility study into setting up a glamping site, while city staff are currently evaluating the hop farm and microbrewery proposal.

Founded in 1867, the ranch has been run by the not-for-profit O'Keefe Ranch and lnterior Heritage Society since 1977.

While the ranch does have a solidly booked wedding season coming up, and holds a variety of well-known and popular special events throughout the year to raise funds on top of regular admission, about 30 to 40 per cent of its revenue comes from various grants. A long term project allowing them to become more self-sufficient would be ideal.

The City of Vernon currently gives the ranch $100,000 per year, but is slated to reduce that amount by $10,000 a year starting in 2020.

An earlier idea for a columbarium at the O'Keefe Ranch's family cemetery was rejected by the City of Vernon.
An earlier idea for a columbarium at the O'Keefe Ranch's family cemetery was rejected by the City of Vernon.

Gibson said the pot of available grant money also sees more and more applications each year from different organizations, so becoming more self-reliant takes away a lot of the uncertainties involved in applying for grants. He said the ranch isn't asking the City for money to start the ventures, they'll look for other partnerships to do that, but just needs its landlord's approval.

Generating a solid steady income would also go along way in helping the ranch maintain a multitude of buildings more than a century old.

He is hoping the city will have a more favourable response to these new ideas, after they refused to support the idea of starting a columbarium at the ranch, near its decommissioned cemetery.

Gibson is keeping his fingers crossed and hopes council will look favourably at the two ideas on the table. If they do, with both proposals still in their infancy, the reality of a hop farm and glamping site will still be years away.

The original O'Keefe family house on the Historic O'Keefe Ranch near Vernon.
The original O'Keefe family house on the Historic O'Keefe Ranch near Vernon.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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