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For foodies, families and fruit-lovers, here's your guide to the best of the Okanagan for a farm-fresh summer escape.
With a moo-moo here and a pop-pop there (that’s the sound of uncorking a wine bottle), the Okanagan is home to some of B.C.’s best farmland. One of our editors took a summer trip and lined up a few very special spots: here are three amazing places worth visiting on your next OK getaway.
Klippers Organic Acres
725 Mackenzie Rd., Cawston, B.C.
The realities of farm life can’t be as romantic as the storybooks would have us believe, right? But Klippers Organic Acres feels like a true countryside paradise—so much so that it has me seriously daydreaming about abandoning my high-maintenance city life to frolic among tractors and chickens. The family-owned farm in the Similkameen Valley has grown from five to 60 acres since the Klippensteins first founded it in 2001. Kevin Klippenstein (pictured above) takes us on a walking tour through rows upon rows of fresh fruits and veggies, stopping every once in a while to pull a massive beet from the ground or pluck a Padrón pepper from a nearby plant (most are mild, but about one in every ten is very spicy, he tells us).
Those same Padrón peppers are served at Row Fourteen, the onsite restaurant (they take farm-to-table extremely literally). They are done simply, fire-roasted with canola oil and flaky salt, and I “lose” the pepper roulette: the very first one I taste burns in my mouth and nose. But it’s also delicious, as is everything else: warm bread with a soft smoked butter, beets with whey cream and plums, cider sausage atop rich romesco sauce. All produce is picked with intention from just outside the restaurant’s sweeping windows, and that mindfulness comes through in the ultra-fresh menu.
Let the chef pick your meal with the multi-course harvest lunch menu ($50 per person) at Row Fourteen.
Grab a bottle of Untangled Craft Cider’s black plum basil cider ($19) from the in-restaurant gift shop.
Just down the road from Row Fourteen is the Klippers Marketplace and Café—snap a pic basking in the hammock chairs while you refresh with housemade peach-leaf ice cream.
Covert Farms Family Estate
300 Covert Pl., Oliver, B.C.
Covert Farms Family Estate appeals to the young and the young-at-heart: try not to smile with childlike joy as you bounce around the property in the back of a little red pickup truck. The yellow jumping pillow (think trampoline, but marginally safer) begs to be skipped across. There’s waddling ducks, talkative sheep and giant bristly pigs—but, to me, the cows are the highlight.
Unlike those farms that keep livestock in feedlots, Covert integrates their animals with their plants: planned grazing keeps the crops under control and manure helps the plants grow. So, right in the middle of the fruits and veggies, there are fuzzy cows. Emo-looking caramel-coloured cows with sassy bangs, giant cream-toned cows walking with elegant purpose and brown-and-white splotchy cows that look deep into my soul from behind enviable long eyelashes. Covert Farms reminds kids and adults alike where their food comes from: I eat wine grapes from the vine (a few have been lost to an oenology-curious bear), brush dirt from cabbages and carefully avoid bees to pick fresh strawberries.
Here, you can indulge in nostalgic fun (sorry to the kids I double-bounced on the jumping pillow) and also celebrate like a grown-up (cheers to wine tasting on a sun-drenched patio). And it’s a good place to seriously consider becoming a vegan.
Book a private campfire cookout ($38 for adults, $15 for youth under 18) and roast your own Two Rivers hot dogs—plus s’mores, wine and juice for the kiddos.
For a wine that channels Okanagan strawberries and cherries, head to the farm’s mini-market and go with the Covert Farms 2022 Rosé ($22).
Fuzzy cows—need we say more?
The Grist Mill and Gardens
2691 Upper Bench Rd., Keremeos, B.C.
Okay, so the Grist Mill and Gardens isn’t actually a farm: it’s a heritage site with a restaurant, campground and gift shop. Don’t expect rows of carefully plotted crops or livestock wandering about. But the apple orchard has the energy, charm and history that I love about farms. It would be impossible to leave it off this list.
The Grist Mill apple orchard has over 20 different species of heritage apples: it’s a beautiful, eclectic mix of trees. Extraordinarily friendly manager Chris Mathieson speaks with evident passion for the different varietals, even though many of them are a mystery: record keeping for the 146-year-old site has been (understandably) inconsistent, and many of the apples are unknown. Mathieson asks all visitors to help in the team’s pursuit to identify the apples—once, he tells us, an elderly visitor swore she remembered one of the mystery apples from her childhood.
The water wheel-powered mill that the site is named after is still turning, and stepping inside among the platforms and pulleys and grinders is awesome: the space is a love letter to preservation. A tiny museum with bits and bobs about the mill’s history is just a few steps away. And everywhere, there are flowers—the fresh florals have only the fragrance of sweet apples to compete with, and the air here is easy breathing.
Chow down on a fresh scone in the tearoom or grab a sandwich from the kitchen.
The housemade apricot barbeque sauce ($12) is a winning souvenir.
The water wheel powering the mill is super IG-worthy, as are all of the funky kinds of apples.