Farming Karma

From left, Sumeet Gill, Avi Gill and Anthony Lewis of Farming Karma Fruit Co. in Kelowna are ready to welcome federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to a community event at the farm at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Initially, the big news is that Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s “badass” defence minister, will be in Kelowna at 3 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 3) for a free community event.

But then we find out this gathering is at Farming Karma Fruit Co. and we want to know more about the name.

Karma is an Indian and Buddhist term referring to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and action of an individual influence the future of that individual.

Basically, do good and good will come back your way. Be nasty and that will blow back on you, too.

However, in the case of Farming Karma Fruit Co., Karma is also the first name of the Indo-Canadian orchardist who co-founded and co-owns the company.

“He’s my dad and it’s a great name, isn’t it?” said Avi Gill, the other co-founder and co-owner. “We’re having fun with the endless play on words.”

Karma Gill, the man, has a mission to spread good with his agricultural-tourism business, Farming Karma Fruit Co., and part of that is hosting the defence minister today.

Sajjan, a former Canadian Armed Forces lieutenant-colonel and Vancouver Police detective, earned the “badass” nickname in 2015 when he was appointed defence minister and a photo of him in full combat gear made the rounds in the media.

“Our motto here at Karma is freedom, family and fun,” said Karma marketing manager Anthony Lewis.

“Apply that to politics and it means a free community event you can bring the whole family to, eat free samosas and drink free apple soda and ask questions of the politicians, care and be part of the process.”

When Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr heard Sajjan was coming to town, he immediately thought of Farming Karma.

“Stephen is a big supporter of us,” said Gill. “He came out to our grand opening last month and he thought it was an awesome venue.”

For years, Karma and Balvir Gill operated their 40 hectares of apple and cherry orchards traditionally, selling the fruit through B.C. Tree Fruits.

They still sell a lot of apples and cherries via B.C. Tree Fruits, but when pharmacist son Avi and his commercial banker wife, Binny, got involved in the business, they wanted to diversify and innovate.

They brought Lewis on board, who helped his parents brand The Vibrant Vine Winery with psychedelic-wrap labels and his own winery, Frequency, by playing music to the wine during fermentation and aging.

The result is fruit-stand-meets-modern-retail vibe.

The exterior is rustic-industrial with galvanized-steel Farming Karma signs and numerous red Farming Karma flags flapping and flanking each side of the building.

Inside, there’s a tasting bar to try Farming Karma-brand sparkling apple juice (and soon sparkling cherry juice) and green-apple gelato.

Apple and cherry popsicles are coming next.

You can also buy the juice in retro-red cans for $12 for a nine-pack.

There’s a touch of old school, too, with fresh apples and cherries for sale in branded boxes.

Out back, there’s a climbing wall, RV park, picnic area, three-hole disc golf course and dog park, with free wash and dry doggie station.

“We’re definitely orchard tourism,” said Gill.

“I’m a pharmacist, but I got into agriculture to help my parents and show the next generation that it’s a fun, viable industry that’s not to be looked down on. This is the future of family and farming.”

Starting with the Sajjan event today, people have a chance to hop in the Karma Do Good buggy (a red-and-white-logoed Mini Cooper car) equipped with camera and microphone to record how they’re being positive and paying it forward.

Farming Karma is also starting a campaign in which it will give people $100 to jump in the car and head off to spend the money to help someone.

The interactions will be recorded and posted to Farming Karma’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram social media channels.

Farming Karma is located off Highway 33 at 1160 McKenzie Rd.