The fruits of a local Vernon farm’s labour are ripe and ready for the picking.
The North BX Haskap Farm and owner Michael Klymchyk are prepared to introduce North Okanagan residents and tourists to the not-so-familiar Haskap berry.
Klymchyk said although the fruit is centuries old, its taste and health benefits are only recently being more popular in North America after its introduction to Canada in the 1950s.
The elongated purple-blue berry, which traditionally grows in Japan’s, is the “berry of long life and good vision,” according to the Haskap Canada Association. The Okanagan climate, however, has proven quite suitable as Klymchyk said the berries are flourishing at the Silver Star Road farm.
Klymchyk, a member of the British Columbia and Canadian Haskap Associations said the berries are often compared a blueberry with the zip of raspberries, but after trying one, tasters can see they are more complex than that.
The bee-friendly farm only recently hired on several pickers to carefully “tickle” the berries off the plant in preparation for sales but in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, pickers have to be especially careful to wash their hands and maintain physical distancing in the fields.
Klymchyk welcomed the pickers — many of which are recent grads or high school students seeking out summer work — on June 10 ahead of the farms opening day, Wednesday, June 17.
There, he provided a hand-washing demonstration and picking techniques. Klymchyk also showed his new workers how the berry’s sweetness levels are monitored with a tool called a Refractometer which measures the berries on the Brix scale.
The pesticide-free farm at 6144 Silver Star Road opened to the public Wednesday, June 17. Berries, jams and jellies and other Haskap-flavoured products will be available Wednesday to Friday between 11:30-1 p.m. Sales are cash only.