It is said to be like a raspberry, blueberry and blackberry mixed together, but nobody really knows what it is – yet.
The haskap berry, which is new to the area, has sprung up in Salmon Arm, thanks to local farmers at High Mountain Farm, Axel Hvidberg and his wife Doris, who have become one of the largest growers of the fruit in the region.
The berry, which is oblong in shape and blue, grows wild in every province, except British Columbia. It’s primarily grown in Saskatchewan, Japan, and Russia.
The Hvidbergs, who are originally from Alberta, opened their farm in 2010, and heard about the haskap while visiting a winery in Vancouver.
Hvidberg said, like everyone else, he wasn’t really sure what the berry was; however, the couple planted 650 plants three years ago, and are happily reaping the benefits. They began picking on June 4, and have already sold out.
“We’re picked clean,” said Hvidberg, adding they grow their berries free of any pesticides or fertilizers. “You can’t get any more natural than this.”
Hvidberg says the berries can be used for everything that blueberries are used for, such as sauces, jams, wines and candy.
Another way Hvidberg likes to enjoy the berries is popping them into his mouth frozen for a refreshing grape Popsicle taste.
“It has an unusual flavour that I think attracts people,” said Hvidberg “It’s sweet with a kick of tartness, which enhances the flavour.”
The berry also has great nutritional value, with five times the antioxidants of the blueberry.
Hvidberg says the weather in Salmon Arm seems to be a perfect fit for growing the berry, and this season they only lost four plants out of the 650.
“It’s kind of interesting, they need cold winters,” said Hvidberg, noting the berry can withstand up to -45 degrees Celsius.
Hvidberg also said that because it warms up in Salmon Arm quite early in the year, it gives the haskap berry the upper hand by being the first fresh fruit crop of the season.
The Hvidbergs plan to expand their crop and plant more haskap plants in the coming years.
“I think it’s a great crop that can be grown in Salmon Arm,” said Hvidberg. “They’re like little presents on every branch.”