An iconic Summerland fruit business is marking its 60th anniversary this month.
Summerland Sweets, known for its jams, syrups and other fruit products, was founded in 1962 by F.E. (Ted) Atkinson, after he retired from the Summerland Research Station.
Atkinson was the first food technician hired by the federal government in 1929 and he eventually became head of food science there. His work involved experimenting with new fruit products and finding ways to get these products adopted by the fruit industry.
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In the early 1960s, he began producing fruit jelly candies to raise funds for the Summerland Rotary Club. When he retired, he created Summerland Sweets as a commercial fruit processing operation.
The jams and fruit syrups from Summerland Sweets are sold around British Columbia and Alberta and can be found as far east as Thunder Bay, Ont.
Len Filek, general manager of Summerland Sweets and Atkinson’s grandson-in-law, said the business has changed and expanded over the years.
In 1992, he set up the store at 6206 Canyon View Rd. In addition to offering retail sales of the jams and syrups, the store also sells ice cream, making it a popular summer attraction. The retail building has been expanded several times since it was created.
“Our focus is on agri-tourism,” Filek said. “We were one of the first to get into it.”
In 2008, the company added Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery, offering a selection of fruit wines. The winery has won numerous awards for its wines over the years.
Despite the changes, Filek said the company maintains its original focus of providing the best fruit products possible.
“The fruit is the number one ingredient,” he said.
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While some new flavours, such as haskap berries, have been added, the traditional recipes remain popular today.
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Summerland Sweets will hold a pancake breakfast at its Canyon View Road store on Saturday, June 25 starting at 8 a.m.
“After 60 years, thanks to the community for supporting us,” Filek said.
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