Row, Row, Row Your Apples: The History and Rejuvenation of Fruit Orchard at Gambier Island Sea Ranch

Project Summary

The Gambier Island Sea Ranch would like to rejuvenate their heritage fruit orchard. Students working on this project will help identify the apple and pear (and perhaps other fruit!) varieties, investigate and document the history of the orchard, and create recipes that make the best use of the varieties. A sheltered bay, grassy fields and an old farmhouse make this ranch a stunning place to visit, but please note that you will need to be available to travel to Gambier Island on weekends to successfully complete this project. It is especially relevant for students majoring in plant science, food and the environment, or food, nutrition and health and/or who want to learn more about fruit production, traditional agriculture, and nutrition education. For this project, you need to be comfortable conducting interviews with diverse people, and capable of weaving together their stories to create an engaging narrative. Throughout the term, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about food production among the islands of Howe Sound, which contribute to the Vancouver food system.

Organization Information


Gambier Island Sea Ranch


The Gambier Island Sea Ranch is a multi-generational, inclusive island community that values a cooperative, engaged culture, respects its physical and human environment, and is dedicated to preserving its peaceful and natural setting for future generations.


  • Thoughtful Stewardship
    We are thoughtful of all components that make up the sea ranch, including the farm, physical environment, and natural setting. We are professional in our operations and management practices.
  • Respect
    We respect and celebrate the diversity of the individuals and groups who comprise our community.
  • Cooperative Collaboration
    As a community, we acknowledge the benefits we receive from the wealth of skills, expertise and collective knowledge within our community. This active participation on the part of community members supports our shared success.
  • Accountability
    We are responsible for our individual actions and decisions and understand that we are accountable for our behaviours.

Guiding Principles

  • Maintain professional integrity in operational management practices.
  • Proactively set, implement and measure goals that engage and reflect sound decision-making.
  • Assure that decisions are clear, transparent and communicated to members of the community.
  • Uphold and adhere to sound financial practices.
  • Adhere to prudent record keeping practices that encourage ongoing knowledge transfer.

Primary Contact

  • Rosalie Boulter, member of the Farm Committee
  • Email:
  • Address: Vancouver
  • Phone: 604-687-2024
  • Website:
  • Skype: Rosalie.boulter

Project Description

The Gambier Island Sea Ranch (GISR) has a small amount of fruit trees dating back to the time when the property had an orchard. Our oral history includes fruit being harvested and either rowed over to the mainland or barged over. The skeleton of the barge is washed up on shore. We would like to rejuvenate our orchards by both planting new trees and saving our historical trees, many of which have been neglected or are at the end of their life. Some trees still produce a good amount of fruit and have been cared for. We are interested in 1) Determining the varieties of apples, pears, and perhaps other fruit that we have and what they are best used for in a culinary sense (e.g. drying, baking, storing, eating fresh, for cider?); 2) Documenting our history by creating a written narrative of the past related to the fruiting trees (e.g. who planted them, how were they used, how were they transported to the mainland, where were they sold, etc); and 3) Creating recipes for the use of the fruit to share amongst our community.

This project will involve students researching fruit varieties, possibly attending the UBC Apple Festival for their expertise. They will speak with members of the community and use external research to create a written history of the orchards, perhaps creating some education materials for our community to learn about this.

Skills Preferred

  • Interest in history of agriculture (production, economics, and cultural uses)
  • Agricultural and biological knowledge
  • Able to interview people with different styles and narratives
  • Able to translate community stories into a coherent narrative and determine the best medium to disseminate new knowledge (e.g. hard copy report, PDF, website, blog?)

Skills to Be Developed

  • A sense of the varied history of the islands, contributing to the food system of Vancouver.
  • Knowledge of how to contact and engage with diverse stakeholders.

Project Location

At least one visit to Gambier Island to view the trees and the property will be needed. If community service is included, this may entail a second visit. The earlier in the project the visit takes place, the better as weather can be a factor. Visits need to be arranged when other people are on site, which is not every day. Visits will likely need to be on a weekend day. Bus service to Horseshoe Bay and then a water taxi to the Island – booking in advance required.

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

Visits on weekends. No other on site work required (aside from community service opportunities).

Experiential Learning Opportunities

  • Pruning of fruit trees and other garden/farm related work opportunities.

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Student will be able to...

  • Identify apple and other heritage fruit varieties
  • Create a written history from oral remembrances and written materials.

Organizational Outcomes

Sea Ranch will gain...

  • Knowledge of our history and how apple and fruit varieties shaped the development and culture of the island community
  • Energy of the students adding to our community
  • A document that can be shared with our community about the history and uses of our heritage apples