Konik Farms Peaches Niagara-on-the-Lake
It’s a quiet summer day when we visit Walter Konik’s orchard, broken by a few words of Spanish and the clink of aluminum as the Mexican farmhands move their ladders from one stocky peach tree to the next.
The fruit is easy to spot, glowing red and yellow among the green leaves. It’s up to the pickers to determine if it’s ripe enough to harvest and fill the 11-quart waxed cardboard basket suspended at their waist.
“We try to get as close to maturity as possible,” says Konik, who gave up a job in auto parts manufacturing more than 30 years ago to become a fruit farmer in Niagara-On-The Lake. “But if we wait until the fruit is fully mature it would be jam by the time it arrives at the supermarket.”
The filled baskets are transferred to a flat platform mounted to the frame of an ’89 Chevy Suburban. This is the best way he’s found to give the fruit a smooth ride from the field to the packing house.
Inside, the pace picks up as the peaches are cooled, washed, dried and conveyed to revolving round tables for sorting and grading before being packed by hand in Konik’s distinctive black baskets. Within two days of picking, the exquisite peaches along with Konik’s plums and nectarines grace the produce stands of Fiesta Farms, Pusateri’s and other famous quality food shops throughout Toronto and the GTA.
Even after the harvest is in, Niagara growers are constantly at work pulling out older trees and replanting new varieties. Names like Blazingstar and Harrow Diamond alongside classics like Red Haven and every canner’s favourite, Baby Gold, which brings the season to a close in late August.
In the meantime, there’s a mountain of paperwork to tackle to meet ever-stringent government food safety regulations. (Konik even takes boxes of files on his annual golfing trip to Myrtle Beach to sort through between games.)
Back in the orchard, all is calm as the workers break for lunch. It’s so peaceful and green here, surrounded by fruit and wineries, yet we’re less than two hours from Toronto.
Konik has been making the drive in to the Ontario Food Terminal to sell his peaches and other premium produce for over 30 years. As long as customers continue to demand fresh, locally-grown fruit, Konik Farms is happy to provide. His peaches are easy to spot: look for the Ontario produce-stamped black basket with the pink handle!
Well stocked on Konik Peaches we’ve been experimenting with the tender fruit. Their sweet, juicy flavour is a fresh addition to any dish. We used our Konik peaches in one of our breakfast favourites, overnight oats, to give that summery flourish. We hope you love this Peaches, Chia Seed and Honey Overnight Oats recipe.