Agricultural History

The Arrow Lakes region has a long history of farming and fruit growing.

At the turn of the 19th century, people settled along the lake eager to start afresh with independent farms; some settlements were even large enough to see stores, churches and community halls built. A great advantage the Arrow Lakes corridor had over the Okanagan farmers of this time was the ability to grow fruit trees without installing irrigation systems. Berries and orchard fruits were shipped out of the region, mostly to Alberta, on sternwheelers such as the historic SS Minto. Read more about the Burton Berry Boats and our rich agricultural history at the Arrow Lakes Historical Archives.

Sam Henry had proven to be a fine business man, and a visionary farmer, during times when Chinese people such as he were not allowed to own property. Sam moved to Nakusp in the 1890s, and eyed up a plot of land with rich black soil near his laundry business. Spring-fed, this land produced bounteous crops of vegetables which were gratefully picked up by the new boats on the Arrow Lakes. This was a small fruitful farm. However, Henry had his eye on a huge parcel of land, which he was sure was the best on the whole Arrow Lakes, lying east of his present location. By 1904, Henry finally managed to purchase this 72 acres in one lot and 89 acres in an adjoining one. Also spring-fed, this beautiful earth could produce vegetables at record rates. It was low lying land that produced internal heat, allowing plants to be sown early. For years, he supplied many residents and the paddlewheelers with fine vegetables and was a much respected member of the community. This land became home to the locally beloved Spicer’s farm and now, Heritage Nursery.

Chris and Jean Spicer were pioneering farmers in the Nakusp area starting in the 1940s but most of their farm was expropriated and drowned when the Arrow Lakes were flooded as a result of the Columbia River Treaty. Their daughter Janet, inheriting her parents tenacity and natural ability to grow beautiful produce, has dedicated her career to rebuild her family farm to close to its previous size and vitality, including a small portion of her parents’ original farm. Janet is not only an organic farmer, she is a visionary, an environmental activist, and truly grows the best carrots you will ever taste. Read more about the history of Spicer’s Farm here.

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