Jim and Mary Ann Rahe
Prepared: August 28, 2008
“There is always something fresh off the tree” said Jim Rahe. It is this basic approach that drives the marketing philosophy of Annie’s Orchard in Langley. Basically what the Rahes offer is more than 50 different apple varieties and about 12 varieties of pears. The varieties they’ve chosen mature at different times. You can get early fresh Transparents by mid-August and still be getting fresh, right off the tree, Northern Spies, Granny Smiths and Jonagolds late into the fall. “And another thing”, said Jim. “People tend to remember the apples they grew up with”. For this reason Jim and Mary Ann have specialized in apple varieties that appeal to people with different backgrounds. “If you were born in Britain, you will probably like Bramleys or Cox’s Orange” said Jim, and in fact many people with British heritage drive considerable distances to get those very varieties. “Some people with German or Dutch backgrounds tend to like our Gravensteins or Belle de Boskop” he said. “Gravensteins and Honey Crisp are probably our most popular apples”.
Mary Ann’s background was where the name of the orchard came from. “My father always called me Annie” she said. Jim and Mary Ann started selling apples in 1983. They have about seven acres of land with 3000 trees on about 5 acres of it. Although most of their production is apples, they have seen a vigorous increase in pear sales over the past few years.
The Rahes are responsible growers who are more than willing to share their growing practices with their customers. They follow Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on their farm. “This means we control pests only when they are a serious threat to the crops” said Jim. “You have to understand plant biology and the pests themselves in order to be most effective with IPM”.
Like many farmers these days, both Mary Ann and Jim had other careers besides farming. Mary Ann was a nurse by training and Jim was a professor of plant pathology at Simon Fraser University. He only recently retired from the daily commute to SFU. “I don’t miss that drive” he said, “but I always tried to keep thinking about the orchard whenever the traffic got really heavy”. The Rahes are farming because they really enjoy working with plants and animals and “we get a tremendous amount of satisfaction when our customers tell us “that’s the best apple I’ve ever tasted” said Jim.