Fall calls for some additional noise at Fort Berens

The return of fall brings many seasonal changes including shorter days, longer and cooler nights, delicious fall produce and the start of harvest.

At Fort Berens, where these are the final weeks for the grapes to ripen before they’re picked, it also necessarily brings a little more noise than usual, co-founder and co-owner Rolf de Bruin explained.

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“Harvest is an exciting and busy time for us at Fort Berens. We check the grapes daily to see if they are ready to be picked. While exciting, operating a vineyard is also challenging because we face many risks from birds and wildlife, as well as weather changes at this time of year,” de Bruin said.

“As the grapes ripen, they become sweeter and very appealing to birds, mainly starling and crows, as well as deer and even bears. In order to protect the grapes, we employ common farming practices including the use of fencing, netting and air cannons. The deer and bears are kept at with our fence. The use of air cannons is intended to scare away the birds. While we wish it wasn’t the case, the birds are active in the early morning throughout the day, and into the evening so we need to start the air cannons early in the morning, generally at dawn, and we turn them off at dusk.”

Dropping temperatures at this time of year also bring the risk of frost damage, requiring use of a wind machine to protect the leaves and grapes. The machine automatically turns on during the night when the temperature drops below freezing, de Bruin said.

Fort Berens is located in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and the measures being taken are common farming practices for which there are exceptions to the noise bylaws for agricultural properties.

“While we are in the ALR, we are also close to our neighbouring properties and we know that the loud cycles of both the air cannons and the wind machines can be startling or upsetting to our neighbours, both humans and pets,” de Bruin said.

“We are continually assessing our situation to see what we need to do each day in order to protect the crops. The good news is that this is a short-term situation. We thank the Lillooet community for their patience and understanding and their ongoing support.”

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