Potential in haskap berries for local farmers

Local residents and food enthusiasts Bob Kendell and Gary Smith proposed the introduction of the haskap berries into Grand Forks agricultural production at a recent city council meeting.

Local residents and food enthusiasts Bob Kendell and Gary Smith proposed the introduction of the haskap berries into Grand Forks agricultural production at a recent city council meeting.

“The council approved for us to bring this fellow out who’s an expert in the production of haskap berries,” said Gary Smith, a crop manager with Bron and Sons Nursery. “Haskaps, also known as honeysuckles or honey berries, are just a different form of cultivar that produce larger types of berries.”

Around six years ago, seed stock of the fruit from Russia and Japan was brought over by Dr. Bob Bors from the University of Saskatchewan. With purple-tinged skin, haskap berries can be either cylindrical or circular in shape and resembles a mixture of blueberries and strawberries in taste.

Kendell, who introduced haskap berries to Smith, said, “Dr. Bors started cross-breeding the two varieties to take the best attributes of both and produce something that was more commercially viable.”

Smith added, “They can withstand up to -40 (degree) frost and their blooms can stand up to minus four or five. They are the first fruit to ripen in the season and there’s no market here, there’s no one doing it here.”

Haskap berries are bred the natural way and not genetically modified, Smith pointed out.

“They’re very thin skinned, so they blend well to being processed, so jams and wines. Somebody in Nova Scotia is even making vodka out of it. It’s something that is easy to work with and it’s a real opportunity,” stated Smith.

Mayor Brian Taylor thinks that the fruit shows some promise due to its traits, but is cautious when talking about production.

“It’s not going to be a solution to our problems in agriculture, but if it adds another variety to our communities production, then great,” he said.

Mass production of haskap berries is still relatively new, but Kendell hopes the community sees the potential of harvesting the fruit.

“We can become the centre of berry production in B.C.,” stated Kendell. “I think it has the potential to do a lot of good things because to my knowledge, it’s the only commercially harvestable berry.”

Smith agreed, “We have lots of land that’s not being utilized or being used at all and this may be an excellent opportunity for this region to do something different and productive, as opposed to growing hay.”

Kendell and Smith have arranged to bring Curtis Braaden, owner of Haskap Central Sales Ltd. in Saskatchewan, over for a meeting to discuss production with help with some funds provided by city council, on Oct. 15. Location and time to be decided.

Just Posted

BM&TS show ‘a tale as old as time’

The theatre group produced Beauty and the Beast.

Video: MP hears pot, pipeline and politics concerns

South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP hosts town hall forum in Penticton

Needles killer frightened many in our town: BC author

Roy Bugera disrupted life in a quiet Vancouver Island village before moving to Arrow Lakes

RCMP investigate stabbing incident

Injuries were non-life threatening, RCMP report

Health Minister says coming changes will make difference in rural communities.

“As a government, Premier Horgan is committed to improving the ambulance service.”

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Viewer Photos: First day of Spring around British Columbia

Our loyal viewers sent us some of their favourite Spring photos from all corners of the province

Five Canadian kids charged with making school threats

Police say online threats are on the rise

Not even Ellen DeGeneres can get Virtue, Moir to say they’re more than friends

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday

RCMP warn public to stop pouring gas on fires after three incidents

Police responded to three recent incidents that sent seven people to hospital

SPCA seeks help to treat dog found with collar embeeded in neck

Rusty, a shar-pei/Labrador cross, needs another two months to recover, with care costing $2,400

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles in the driver’s seat and Ethan Martini takes a seat

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

New Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms in Canada

Measures are intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes

Most Read