In 1964 Frank Van Meekeren bought the apple farm in Lakeville, Nova Scotia. In the early years we established the “Glooscap” apple brand. Glooscap is a mythical hero, god, and “transformer” of the native people of Atlantic Canada and in other parts of North America. Since then we have seen a lot of growth and changes to both the growing of the apples on the farm as well as the packing.
Doing what we can for the environment has always been a priority. In 1991 we started taking part in a more friendly pest management program called Integrated Pest Management (or IPM) minimizing chemical use in orchard spraying. Another way that we work to reduce our impact on the environment as a farm is through involvement with an Integrated Fruit Production (IFP) test orchard. Here we work with local researchers to use softer products and natural predators to control things like pest insects. Recently in the summer of 2006 we began transitioning some orchard to organic production. Since then we have seen a lot of growth and changes to both the growing of the apples on the farm as well as the packing.
When the farm was first purchased we grew apples and garden crops mainly. Popular apple varieties grown on the farm were Ben Davis, McIntosh, King, Spy, Melba, Bishop Pippen and Cox Orange to name a few. In 1972 we began replacing standard apple trees with semi-standard (smaller trees that produce apples quicker). In 1987 we began planting semi-dwarf trees with apple trees being smaller again then semi-standard. Later (1992) we began planting dwarf apple trees and in 1999 started installing trellis (wire) systems when planting the orchards to give higher yields of better quality fruit.
Apple Picking & Storage
1967 was a big year, the first cold storage facility was built, and a new apple packing grader was purchased and the first apples were packed on the Lakeville farm. In 1978 we again updated the packing line and increased the storage capacity. In 1987 we built our first “Controlled Atmosphere” (aka CA) storage that could hold 900 bins (16,200 bushels). CA storage is used to extend the storage life of the apples as they are seasonal and only picked in the fall. First you create an airtight room, then control the oxygen level (very low level of oxygen) and carbon dioxide level (higher) so that the apple ripening process slows to a crawl. This allows us to have apples year-round that are as fresh and crunchy as when they were picked. In 1988/1989 the apple packing line was updated again with a modern “Greefa” grader. In 1992 we increased our CA storage by more than doubling it. The CA equipment was replaced/modernized in 1998 and more CA storage was added in 2001 and 2004. The packing line was also replaced in 1999 to keep up with more demands for better fruit sorting and grading. In 2009, we upgraded our grading system with a high capacity computerized colour and defect sorting machine.