It's been four years since the Charbonneau and Filion families, who own Valley Nursery Sod, decided to try something new by growing haskap berries.
After months of extensive research to find something that did well in their climate and would be sustainable in the region of Sudbury, where their farm is located, the families decided haskaps would be the best fit.
"Once we started doing research on haskaps, we really enjoyed what we were learning and that translated into us planting 2000 plants that year without ever having tried them," said Justin Filion, a co-owner of Valley Nursery Sod.
The families have about 27 acres planted with 40,000 trees in the ground. Their varieties include, Indigo Gem, Tundra, Berry Smart Blue, Honeybee, Indigo Yum and Aurora. The unique berry is often described as tasting somewhere between a blueberry, a blackberry and a raspberry.
Filion says that while growing haskaps has turned out to be a lot more work than they had originally thought, that their biggest challenge has been educating the public about the berry.
The families have been working closely with the University of Saskatchewan to learn more about growing the fruit. The university has been studying haskap berries since 2006 as part of their fruit program. According to the university's website, their "goal is to combine the best traits from Haskap from different regions to adapt this crop for mechanical harvesting. But we also want to have early mid and late season varieties that taste great."