Growing Fruit on the Prairies
When we first started this journey and planted 45,000 trees in the middle of a wheat field everyone thought we were crazy…including ourselves! When you think of where we live you think fields of waving canola, cows grazing and golden wheat – certainly not fruit.
But if you want to make wine you have to grow fruit, and thanks largely to the work of the University of Saskatchewan’s fruit breeding program we can grow a wide variety of fruit on a commercial scale – from apples to cherries, black currants to haskap. And of course everyone’s favourite vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable) rhubarb.
Because of the short growing season here when things go, they grow hard, fast and take in every beam of sun and every drop of moisture they can. Which means those of us that grow fruit in Saskatchewan don’t sleep for about three months…but as my dad used to say, sleep is for the weak! We are not certified organic but operate on organic principals, so there’s long days of mechanical (i.e. hand) weeding, mowing, whacking, harvesting and freezing before September.
All the hard work is so worth it for a couple of reasons. First, we can control the quality of the fruit we use in our products, using only the best fruit with the correct brix (sugar) and free of any extra chemicals. But there’s also the amazement we feel every year when we watch this harsh climate come alive for just a few months every year. It never ceases to amaze us that in just three or four months we can grow some of the best fruits, vegetables, grains and grass in the world. It just happens in a very manic way!