Warm weather, blue skies, and an August long weekend. It was the perfect recipe for saskatoon picking at Solstice Berry Farm. I love those delicious Western berries, either to snack on or to make into pies, so it was time to pick our own!
Solstice Berry Farm is only about 30 minutes from the NW edge of the city and thankfully, easy to find for a city dweller with Google Maps. We showed up around lunchtime on the holiday Monday and were greeted by gentle country noises and a smiling worker armed with empty buckets. She informed us of the lay of the land, quite literally, and handed us some picking buckets. Off we went down the long rows of saskatoon bushes, hearing the distant chatter of pickers in other rows. It took us only an hour to fill a couple of buckets with the bursting red-purple berries, not counting the ones that were designated for, let’s say, quality control.
What you need to know, what you need to bring:
1. Picking saskatoons is perfect for families, as the berries grow at a variety of heights. They’re easy to reach for kids and adults don’t have to spend the whole picking session bent over. The berries do tend to ripen unevenly, so you might need to pick through a bunch carefully to allow the unripened berries to continue growing.
2. The farm supplies pails, each lined with a plastic bag, and when the bag is full, you pop it out for payment. Our pails held just under 5 lbs each. You can bring your own picking receptacles and they will pre-weigh them for you.
3. If you can attach your pail to your belt, you can pick with both hands, which some of our party found helpful. Be sure to dress for the weather, ready for whatever our changeable climate throws at you. Comfortable shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and bug spray are all great ideas. I wondered how dirty I would get wearing sandals, but the rows between the bushes were grassy. Bring drinking water and even make a day of it with a picnic at one of the picnic tables. There are basic refreshments and saskatoon products for sale and one washroom available.
4. You are permitted to sample the berries (um, thank goodness!) but they do ask you be respectful of the business. It’s wonderful for kids to see first-hand where some of their food comes from. One of my daughters loves saskatoon pie, but does not enjoy the berries plain – she was the perfect picking partner, as she was motivated to fill her bucket more than her tummy!
5. While you pick, you will hear some rather startling bangs. Don’t be concerned; it’s just a bird scare. If you have noise-sensitive kiddos, however, be aware.
6. Picking starts around the end of July or beginning of August and only lasts a few weeks. It’s obviously dependent on the vagaries of our weather, so when the saskatoons are good to go, you want to quickly make a plan for visiting. It’s advisable to call the Saskatoon Hotline (403-946-4759) for up-to-date saskatoon picking information around mid-summer.
A little hot and sweaty and with purple hands, we took our full pails to the cottage to pay and headed home laden with saskatoons. Two pails of saskatoons didn’t look like much on the field. But it sure looks like a lot in my fridge. It’s pie-making time!
Solstice Berry Farm:
Although we do our best to provide you with accurate information, all event details are subject to change. Please contact the facility to avoid disappointment.