The landscape at the international centre has changed dramatically with the planting of five acres of grapevines as Fung Loy Kok plans to add ice wine to the gourmet produce coming from our Orangeville home.
The planting at four different sites required a lot of preparation and hard labour, including shifting rocks by hand from one site near the columbarium. Now the 5500 plants are all in the ground, the next tasks are watering, weeding and installing posts and straining wires.
The first harvest is likely to be in 2017 and will be used to make ice wine, which is a dessert wine produced from grapes that have frozen while still on the vine.
Production requires a large labour force to pick the whole crop within a few hours of the temperature falling below minus 8 degrees celsius; probably in December or January.
We already have 100 grapevines in four rows which were planted last year, and the challenges so far in growing grapes at the centre have been watering and weeding.
The centre is also now expanding its honey production, doubling the number of bee hives to 50, and 1200 lavender seedlings are about to be planted to help feed the bees. Linden trees will also be planted for the bees to feast on, and clover will go in the spaces between the grapevine rows. Last year we produced almost 600 kilograms of honey. Maple syrup was also made here for the first time this year and 84 litres was produced. The honey is harvested in July/August and the maple syrup in March/April. Both have already sold out.