Chetwynd family growing berries built for the North
Published Thursday, July 21, 2022 2:34PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, July 21, 2022 6:55PM PDT
CHETWYND, B.C. -- The opening of Hasberry farm was a dream come true for Chetwynd’s Norm Bunker.
“I always wanted to farm and so now retired I thought maybe I could get the chance,” he said.
The retiree and his family planted over 23,000 haskap bushes in fall of 2018. The berries look like an oval shaped blueberry but tastes like a tangy raspberry.
The farm has six varieties of haskap which can be a substitute for other berries in recipes, yet it remains a mystery to most.
“Almost nobody knows what a haskap is,” said Kristin Atheron who is Bunker’s daughter.
The hearty berry is a perfect fruit for the Peace Country’s harsh winters.
In fact, just across the border in Beaverlodge, Alta was an area of cultivation in the 1950s. However, the berries grown then were too bitter.
The bushes at Hasberry were developed by University of Saskatchewan researchers using tastier varieties that originated in Russia and Japan.
Atheron said “I would say overall probably 80 per cent of people who try fresh ones love them.”
Still, the hearty haskap thrives in colder climates. The plants can start budding under the snow and flowers are able to withstand anywhere from -7 to -11 degrees Celsius.
“That’s one of the joys of them. They are a food production that we can grow well in the North. Because most of our food is trucked hundreds if not thousands of kilometres to get to us,” Atheron said.
This year marks the second summer with their pick your own berry patch which is open after a slight weather delay.
“It was cold and wet too which wasn’t ideal for the berries ripening,” Bunker said.
However if getting blue stained fingers out in the field isn’t your thing you can purchase a box at the farm in Chetwynd. Fresh and frozen haskaps are expected to hit select Peace Region store shelves soon.
The family feels good to offer berries full of anti-oxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Calcium
Bunker said he’s hoping to “be a real positive influence in the community and give them a local healthy food.”