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COVER STORY: A peach of a different colour

Not all peaches are the same. The white-fleshed peaches Ray Kaczmarski grows are one of the more unique.

This variety, White Knight, came out of the University of Guelph breeding program in Vineland.

“When you breed fruit, you will have some novelties,” Kaczmarski said. “This one piqued their interest because it was such a novelty.”

Kaczmarski, who is the second-generation growing fruit on the 13-acre farm in Jordan Station, bought a few of the trees when they were made available at nurseries. He was impressed enough, as were his customers, that they went into white peaches on a larger scale.

“They’re unique,” he said. “For the peach purist, they may not like it because it’s white fleshed. It has a hit of raspberry flavour. They have a texture similar to the canning peach variety called Babygold.”

Visually, a white peach looks similar to regular peaches except it has a more pink tone. Inside, depending on ripeness, it has a white to purple colour.

Kaczmarski now has close to 1,000 white peach trees, which produced about 30,000 pounds of fruit last year. He also grows Ambrosia, Honey Crisp and Gala apples, Bosc pears and Early Golden plums. The farm was originally all peaches, but he decided to go in a different direction.

Growing white peaches is similar to growing conventional peaches. Besides his wife Kathy and daughters Alana, Emily and Stacey, Kaczmarski gets local help at various times during the season for tasks like pruning and harvest.

The produce grown is sold out of the farm, plus Koorneef Produce sells them at the Toronto Food Terminal. All are for the fresh market.

Farm-gate sales are a new thing for Kaczmarski though. Two of his older daughters were home at the beginning of COVID-19 because they weren’t working. They started promoting the produce on Instagram and Facebook.

“We decided to sell them out of the barn and we were surprised with the amount of interest we received,” he said. “We didn’t have any desire to go retail, it was just a fluke.”

Now farm gate sales account for 25 per cent of the crop.

Since starting his own retailing, Kaczmarski is trying to be different. For instance, he plans on tattooing some of his apples this year. He explained just before the apples start to colour, stickers are put on the apples with a message.

“What they’ll do is as the fruit ripens the light won’t penetrate the sticker,” he said. “When we remove the tattoo, it will say Happy Thanksgiving.”

The farm is a family effort with one daughter and Kathy looking after social media and getting orders while the other two assist with packaging, harvest and marketing.

Through COVID, they scheduled appointments for pick up. Things could change if restrictions continue to be lifted.

“We just wanted people to be safe,” Kaczmarski said. “People were understanding, but we want to make it more accessible for existing customers as well as any new customers that want to come see us.”

To learn more about White Knight peaches, go to Kaczmarski Fruit Farms on Facebook or @ kaczmarskifruitfarms on Instagram. 

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