Brad DeMille, owner of DeMille’s Farm Market, is driving 2,200 kilometres to sunny California to pick up another load of hand-picked satsuma oranges from his cousin’s farm. DeMille’s already sold 8,000 pounds of the oranges in 30 days. (Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer)

Brad DeMille, owner of DeMille’s Farm Market, is driving 2,200 kilometres to sunny California to pick up another load of hand-picked satsuma oranges from his cousin’s farm. DeMille’s already sold 8,000 pounds of the oranges in 30 days. (Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap farm market owner picks up oranges in California

Brad DeMille travels to U.S. to bring another 8,000 pounds of satsumas from family farm

The owner of DeMille’s Farm Market in Salmon Arm, Brad DeMille, is off on another 2,200 kilometre trip to sunny California, having sold eight tons of sweet satsuma oranges in the past 30 days.

This will be his second four-day road trip to the farm his grandpa Ralland DeMille bought when he moved to the sunny state 20 years ago.

“Grandpa planted two acres of satsumas, a derivative of the old Japanese oranges that we used to get as kids,” says DeMille, noting they are very tender and don’t ship well as they tend to crack. “Since I am taking care of them, when we put them in the truck we put them in very carefully.”

He says many orchards in California use an “umbrella method” and are shaken out of their trees.

Orchardists wait till the preferred level of sweetness is reached in at least 50 per cent of oranges of the tree, DeMille says, noting that after they fall, 50 per cent of the fruit stays in the neighbourhood, 25 per cent is shipped and the remaining 25 per cent becomes a component of citrus cleaner.

“So we’re a notch above lemon cleaner,” DeMille laughs, explaining the process is very different in his late grandpa’s orchard, now operated by his cousin Russell and wife Laura and Ramon, the lead hand on his grandfather’s farm, who continues to manage the orchard. “He bought the farm when Grandpa bought the farm!”

Related: Video: Ice rink at DeMille’s to be bigger and better than last winter

These satsumas are handpicked and hand-selected. Pickers go into the patches over a two-month period and pick them as they ripen, a process he says compares favourably with the handpicking that takes place on Okanagan orchards and makes for better fruit in the marketplace.

Every orange is handpicked, and snipped so the calyx is properly removed so the point doesn’t poke into the other oranges, says DeMille, explaining that a couple of years ago, he helped out in the orchard, taking seven hours to pick 1,000 pounds.

“We started selling these eight years ago; we brought 500 pounds and we thought that was a lot; now we’re on the road to 16,000 pounds this year,” he says. “Every year it seems to double, people are becoming more aware about what they put in their bodies.”

His most constant driving companion has been his father-in-law, Bill Wood, someone he describes as an excellent driver who allows DeMille to get a couple of hours of sleep before taking the wheel again.

“We drive 12 hours a day for four days, but we usually get a good eight hours sleep every night and we stop every couple of hours to stretch our legs,” he says.

Along with another 8,000 pounds of satsumas he will bring home on his orange odyssey that began on Saturday, Dec. 15, DeMille plans to bring back the first of the season’s navel oranges.

“They’re not stored, colour-dipped or eradicated and, last year, we sold 10 times more than the previous year,” he says.

And, in other news, DeMille’s outdoor skating rink in Salmon Arm will be operational this year, depending entirely on the whim of Mother Nature.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

.
Princeton’s Spotlight wins two provincial awards for excellence

Publisher takes first place for investigative reporting

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

The COVID-19 cases reported over the week of May 30 to June 5. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees second straight week of 17 new COVID-19 cases

Summerland, Keremeos and Princeton all recorded no new cases

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has hired a new FireSmart coordinator. (Black Press file photo)
FireSmart coordinator named for Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Kerry Riess will provide assistance to mitigate potential wildfire hazards

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read