“Long days in the sun picking Saskatoon berries!” is a quote from a book my daughter loves, and one she repeated over and over again on our afternoon at Prairie Berry Farm. She loved zipping between the rows, pausing at one tree to pick it clean before deciding she suddenly HAD to race off to a new plant. Her twin sister took a more cautious approach. She would present me with every berry she picked, asking “is this a good one, mommy?”
Prairie Berry Farm is a lovely little getaway from city life. Get off the Henday at Highway 14, and head East until you reach Range Road 213. You can see the farm from the highway, and its entrance is the first one you’ll see, just north of that main drag. Bob and Lou run the operation, and live on the property too. (Truly a Mom and Pop operation, though they call it a Grandma and Grandpa operation!) Farming was Bob’s retirement dream, and he settled on Saskatoons. He started planting over a decade ago, and today has over 7,000 trees. They’re working on other fruit – cherries, raspberries, haskaps, and plums. I asked about strawberries, but Bob shook his head and said “We tried one year – too much work!”
Lou gave us a quick tour of the property. She started with her greenhouse, chock full of veggies and clearly a source of great pride. She walked us back to the day campground on the property – a clearing with a firepit and outhouses and plenty of cleared trails that stretch off in every direction. Lou, a fellow runner, told me that on her daily runs she enjoys plotting new routes along their several kilometres of paths.
Bob and Lou have plenty of dreams for their space – Bob wants to set up a concession and Lou has an old horse wagon she wants to restore for the front gates – but most of all their goal is to spread the word about their main crop: delicious, non-certified organic Saskatoons. “If you didn’t grow up on the Prairies, you don’t know about Saskatoons,” Bob told me. “But more people should know about them. They’re sweet and delicious and good for you.”
When we headed out to pick, Bob told us the first couple of rows were “kind of picked over”, but we didn’t see evidence of that. Saskatoon season is typically in its prime sometime in July when the trees are literally dripping with gorgeous fruit. I asked how long the season will last. Bob replied “It’s farming. It depends on the weather. Hot and dry will shorten our season. Wet and cool will keep us going a little longer.”
My girls and I picked for an hour, give or take, and produced a big bucketful of berries. We returned and were told our lips were not nearly blue enough! (our fingers sure were though!) U pick berries are just $2 per pound. If you buy pre-picked, they’re $3 per pound. Bob says his prices haven’t changed since the farm opened 5 years ago. There aren’t many producers can make that claim.
Berry pickers or purchasers are welcome at Prairie Berry Farm from 10 am to 6 pm during Saskatoon season – no appointment is necessary, but once we hit mid-August you may want to call or email first to check the berry status.
Prairie Berry Farm:
Where: Located on the North side of Highway 14 at Range Road 213, Southeast of Edmonton (about 30km)
Time: 10 am to 6 pm
Post updated on 1/16/21.