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Couple finds berry nice way to make a living
Making the transition from dairy farmer to berry farmer seems a natural progression for Ron Shann, a retired UBC Farm manager.
It was a transition paved with long months of back breaking, hard work for Ron and his wife Leslie. This month marks a very successful opening of Campbell River’s first berry farm. The u-pick operation is attracting a constant flow of customers.
It is an astonishing sight to follow the pathway beside the Island Highway. to the rear of the Shanns’ attractive home and to view row upon row of robust raspberry canes separated by carefully groomed pathways and framed by a background of towering alders. An eagle pair have settled in as well to enjoy the view from a Cottonwood nest.
Ron’s 25 years at the UBC Farm and his professional training as an agriculturist has given him the grounding for the development of a very well organized and attractive operation. There are 1,200 raspberry canes and second year growth is already producing plump, juicy tasting berries. Plans include loganberries but meanwhile the adjacent field is now being planted with a crop of 300 thornless blackberries. The species is “Lochness” and evokes memories of his years on the family acerage in County Durham, North England.
His family raised beef cattle, sheep, dairy cows and meat birds. Leslie developed her yearning for a farm life operation after 10 years at the award winning Natural Pastures cheese production farm in the Comox Valley.
Both husband and wife are continuing with their respective occupations. Ron is a realtor with Royal LePage and Leslie is on staff with a local dental office. She is anticipating that the farm will eventually occupy her on a full time basis.
Meanwhile the couple are very pleased with the progression of their dream as an established berry farm. Readers can find information, opening days and pictures on Facebook. The site is Ocean Grove Berry Farm. The address is 3762 S. Island Hwy and direct enquiries can be made at 250-203-1932.