It tastes like a cross between a blueberry and a red raspberry. It requires very little soil fertility and minimal maintenance. It leafs out earlier than virtually any other plant in the north. Its flowers can withstand a -7C/20F freeze and still produce fruit. And it is highly nutritious, containing quercetin, an anthocyanin which has been clinically proven to be highly effective in capturing free-radicals in vivo. This fruit is delicious and nutritious and can be processed, cooked, or eaten in any number of ways. Best of all, it is a truly northern fruit growing in all countries that touch on the Arctic.
Brought back from Siberia in the 1990’s by the USDA, because haskap does best in a prolonged, frigid winter accompanied by a sudden spring, the research location on breeding a superior selection shifted from Oregon just after 2000 to the University of Saskatchewan. We first tasted it in 2006 while working in their Horticulture Field Lab as part of our involvement in apple research via their Fruit Cooperator’s program. We attended the formational meeting of Haskap Canada in January 2007 and became founding members, serving on their board of directors in those early years. We wrote the first wildly successful blogs on the fruit: Haskap Wine and Edible Blue Honeysuckle Basics, and volunteered a lot of time. After planting our initial orchard of 1,000 plants in 2008 we signed a propagation contract with the university in order to be able to produce and promote this new fruit, which we did for free. We were thoroughly convinced of its place as a northern fruit, especially for people who had less access to the necessities of life. We gave away thousands of plants over the years traveling and distributing them from central to northern Manitoba, and across Saskatchewan, Alberta, and even British Columbia.
After the first six or seven heady and rewarding years involved in research Haskap Canada shifted its emphasis to marketing while we continued to give away plants and fruit, supplying it to the poor. As a Catholic Worker farm we take great delight in feeding the hungry with this most nutritious food. Over time haskap has sadly succumbed to the value-added mindset…that the most nutritious food should come at a premium price. Where does that leave those who cannot afford it? One grower in our area charges $125/gallon for fresh picked berries. How can the poor afford that?
As a subsidiary of the Saskatchewan government, the development of this fruit now produces a prodigious amount of tax income for the state and its exclusivity – now directly courted by the government within the Haskap Canada organization itself – is in keeping with the development of the penal-state agenda outlined by economist Loci Wacquant, whereby higher quality foods are priced commensurately, in effect further dividing society and isolating those who cannot afford them.
Currently this orchard contains 3,000 plants with a wide variety of both old and new world selections. Anyone may come and pick haskap at The Parkland Worker for free. The orchard is there for others’ benefit, not ours. And volunteers do come every summer to assist us in picking, cleaning, freezing, and processing this fruit for a couple of weeks in mid-July.
In so doing we:
- Feed the hungry.
- Build an ecumenical community.
- Witness to the injustice of the state.
- Seek to build relationships among people of all cultures who share in this simple, ancient, and common activity of harvesting food.
It gives us no end of delight to join as a community of like-hearted people to this non-commercial end and to give this food away simply as one person to another with no expectations and no obligations and no judgments.
- Simply come and pick.
- Pick and share directly with others.
- Bring others out to pick.
- Tell others about what we do.
- Come and pick as a part of our harvesting and fruit processing on behalf of others.
- Make a monetary donation toward orchard upkeep and maintenance.
- Donate an item for orchard use.
- Donate your time for orchard care.
To find out more you may contact us at:
The Parkland Worker
R.R. 1, Box 60
Swan River, Manitoba R0L 1Z0
…or better yet, just come out.