What ever happened to the apple trees?

YOU ASKED:I was wondering how Humphrey Desmond's apple trees are doing. I think that they were moved from his property in Brock to Westsyde. Have you heard any info on this lately?

- Patti

OUR ANSWER:The late Humphrey Desmond would be happy to hear this news. His beloved orchard, which he nurtured for more 20 years, was transplanted in 2007 to Westsyde where, we are happy to report, the trees continue to thrive.

Longtime Kamloops residents will remember Desmond's orchard in Brocklehurst. It stood on 2.4 hectares of waterfront property off Tranquille Road - where the Riverbend seniors' development stands now - and was a popular destination for school outings.

Bill Bilton Sr. remembers the farm well, having grown up in the neighbourhood.

"I used to walk around with Humphrey Desmond all the time and help him out on the farm when I was a kid," said Bilton.

Like many who knew Desmond, Bilton was saddened by the 80-year-old's death in 2005. Saddened, too, at the thought that Desmond's much-loved orchard might be lost forever once the property went up for sale.

"That orchard was the largest remaining apple orchard in the city of Kamloops," said Bilton. "I just didn't want to see them chop all the trees down."

So Bilton, who owns The Dunes golf course in Westsyde, hatched a plan to save the trees. He would move them from Brocklehurst to the northern end of his Westsyde golf course.

Bilton spent more than $50,000 to move 158 apple trees. With the help of friend Jeremy Cooke, the trees were lifted from the ground with a tree spade machine, placed in wire baskets and then loaded onto flatbed trucks for the 12-kilometre journey to their new home.

"It was a huge undertaking but we did it and were happy for every minute of it," said Bilton.

Today, the trees are thriving and producing on a 12-hectare organic farm Cooke is helping Bilton to revive, called Dunesbury Farm.

"This year, he had a crop of apples that was incredible on those trees, absolutely unreal," said Bilton.

Indeed, Desmond would be proud.

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