Busy season at P.E.I.'s only haskap U-pick this year

·2 min read
Lynn Townshend gets help from her granddaughter in the fields at Rollo Bay Haskap. (Nancy Russell/CBC - image credit)
Lynn Townshend gets help from her granddaughter in the fields at Rollo Bay Haskap. (Nancy Russell/CBC - image credit)

Most Prince Edward Islanders probably still don't know what a haskap berry tastes like, but Lynne Townshend of Rollo Bay Haskap says the people who have tried them have loved them.

"I love watching the little kids," said Townshend.

"They just bury their whole selves in the bush and eat and eat and eat. They come out with their face blue, teeth blue, and the hands. It's wonderful."

As with most other crops on the Island, the haskap bushes enjoyed the heat of June and the timely rains, and produced in abundance.

"We were really busy," said Townshend.

"I was really pleased with the volume of U-pickers, and especially with the number of people that came back and said I picked a few last year but I'm here to get twice as many."

Easy to cook

The berries have their own unique taste. Townsend said she has heard people talk about kiwi, raspberry and grape flavours. The berries are a little more tart than most, she said.

The thin skin and small seeds of the berry make them easy to cook with. Townshend likes to prepare them simply. A cup of berries with a quarter cup of sugar boiled up makes an excellent sauce. Boil that same mixture a little longer and the berries have enough of their own pectin to make a jam, she said.

Townshend planted her first haskap plants in 2008. The province had brought in a researcher from the University of Saskatchewan to talk about them.

"I was just so thrilled with the idea of being able to get in on the ground floor with a brand new crop," she said.

"Like a new variety of potatoes or new variety of wheat, but I've never heard of an opportunity for a farmer to plant a brand new crop in Canada. I just thought it was too exciting not to get in on."

Rollo Bay Haskap is closed for the season now, and was the only haskap U-pick operating this year. A U-Pick near Belfast did not open this year because of the pandemic, but plans to open again next year.

Townshend said more farmers on P.E.I. are growing haskap, and she expects that trend to continue.

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