Farm life in the Jewel of the Okanagan

When young people start to think about what they might like to do for a career, teachers, parents and older friends often offer the advice: figure out what you love to do and then find a way to make money at it. Anyone planning on spending some time at a Gatzke Orchards event this summer will come away with a pretty clear idea of how a little imagination can transform that simple idea into a recipe for success.

Like the orchard itself, the family’s enthusiasm for high quality local food and community spirit, has been handed down through three generations of farmers. Guillaume Holzer, event and marketing coordinator at the farm, says that each of the events taking place over the next few months is designed to draw attention to the Gatzke’s passions.

One of the most often praised characteristics of Lake Country by residents and tourists alike is the community’s rural charm. To many, the vast tracts of farmland are symbolic of a lifestyle that rewards a hard day’s work with the chance to share a meal with friends and bask in the glory of an Okanagan sunset in the evening.

For those who are not farmers themselves, the Gatzke Orchard summer event schedule offers an opportunity to experience those rustic moments relaxing on a farm.

On June 12 a series of “Blues and BBQ” events kicks off. The name is self-explanatory and this first barbeque will feature live music by bluesman Sherman Doucette. Blues and BBQ continues on select Sunday evenings for the duration of the summer with a different musician taking the stage each night.

Once again, this summer will see the return of last year’s popular wine tasting nights. This series of events takes place on Thursday nights beginning on June 30. Each session features the products of an Okanagan winery accompanied by locally produced food. The tastings differ from the traditional winery experience in that Al Gatzke leads guests through the evening, taking time to tell the story about the food and where it comes from.

Holzer says events like these are intended to get the message out about the exceptional quality of Okanagan food. And it’s not just fruits and vegetables that he’s talking about. He says some of the local cheeses he’s tried are comparable to those in his native France. Even the bakery and restaurant at Gatzke Orchards operate using locally sourced ingredients.

“The quality is here for sure,” says Holzer. “The Okanagan has a similar climate to parts of France but the culture that surrounds the food here belongs only to the Okanagan.”

This Saturday Gatzke Orchards is kicking off the summer season with a multi-purpose community event. From 4:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. guests are invited to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the Oyama Lakers ball team, a CD release party for the Fabulous Flying Weekenders and a Food Bank fundraiser all in the same night. Prepare for a night of fun sitting around a camp fire while enjoying a barbeque and taking in some live music. Admission is a donation to the Food Bank.

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