July in Creston is synonymous with cherries and we are absolutely obsessed with these little ruby reds! It’s not just the orchards that come to life this time of year, but the community as a whole. Erickson and downtown Creston are bustling with locals, tourists, and fruit pickers alike flocking to our hidden gem of a town. However, it wasn’t always this way, and thanks to Tammy and the Creston Museum team, we can travel back in time to discover the evolution of our local fruit industry.

During the early days of Creston’s tree fruit history, you would have been very hard pressed to find a cherry tree amongst the tens of thousands of apple trees planted throughout the valley. This was way before any of the luxuries we have today, most importantly refrigeration systems. Apples and other hard fruits could last much longer and survive the bumpy train rides back east and to the states where demand was higher and their crop could fetch a pretty penny.

In 1908, the first cherries, Bing and Lambert, were introduced into the Creston Valley by E. Simmons. Cherry trees were also planted intermittently along the East Shore. At this time, the apple industry was still superior, and had outgrown local distribution capacities. Farmers came together to form the Fruit Growers Union which helped to resolve issues such as packing and distribution logistics.

In the early 1930’s a microscopic phenomenon known as “Little Cherry Disease” completely devastated the local cherry industry throughout the entirety of the Kootenays. In fact, the disease caused so much damage that cherry production would be virtually eradicated for decades.

While efforts such as pesticide application, and the introduction of parasitic wasps helped control the spread of Little Cherry Disease to some degree, it wasn’t until “the RDCK enacted a bylaw in 1983 that enforced the removal of diseased trees” that the cherry industry in the region started its slow recovery.

Throughout the 1990’s cherry crops continued to gain in popularity as their market price steadily increased. By 2001, cherry trees represent 24%  of the total fruit trees in Creston, up from 1% just a decade prior. Throughout the 2000’s the Creston Valley has seen it’s share of ups and downs from the international, but it has persisted and thrives to this day. Today we are so fortunate to have seemingly boundless quantities and diverse varieties of cherries to munch on.

In recent years, Creston has also seen an influx of retirees move into the area, many onto acreages that may still have thriving fruit trees. In an effort to reduce waste, fruit gleaning services such as the Kootenay Mobile Juice Press and Harvest Share Program have been introduced.

You’ll be sure to find cherries this week at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market, in addition to a wide array of local and seasonal produce. We hope to see you there!

Here is a complete list of this week’s vendors:

  • Aprons With Pizzaz
  • Black & Beck Foods
  • Blueberry Patch & Farm Girls Fresh Cut Flowers
  • Bootleg Mountain Soap Co.
  • Brittany’s Flower Farm
  • Castle Meadows
  • Cookville Community Farm
  • Creston Valley Public Library
  • Dave Did It
  • Dave the Rock Guy
  • Dragenfly Bags
  • Emma’s Magnets
  • Evanly Creations
  • Friends of Kootenay Lake
  • Heartbeets Catering
  • Inner Sun Creations
  • Iron Skillet
  • JRD Farm
  • Ki Mana Acres
  • Kootenay Cameos
  • Kootenay Copper
  • Kootenay Country Craft Distillery
  • Kootenay Natural Meats
  • Kootenay Outdoor Producer Co-op
  • Lago: Exotic Jewelry & Design
  • Lorr’s Line
  • Lotus Tea
  • Moondaughter Jewelry
  • Mucky Boots Farm
  • Omi’s Brittle
  • Orde Creek Pottery
  • Patio Pals
  • Picnic Patch
  • Pridham Studio
  • Purple House Farm
  • Red Bird Estate Winery
  • Red’s Jewelry
  • RiverHeart Upcycled Clothing
  • Roger’s Crafts & Pat’s Baking
  • Root & Vine Acres
  • Simply Bamboo
  • Skimmerhorn Studio
  • Spectrum Farms
  • Sweet Turtle Chocolates
  • Tarzwell Farm
  • The Peppered Pig
  • The Spice Guy
  • The Steady Edge
  • Treasures From the Heart
  • Uneex by Lorree
  • Ute Bachinski
  • Wendy Franz Studio
  • William Tell
  • Wynndel Craft Distillery
  • Wynnwood Cellars
  • Yellow Rose Soap Co.
  • Yum Soaps