Nfld. & Labrador

Scarce bakeapples in Black Tickle could hurt local economy

Black Tickle resident Dinah Dyson told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning this summer's cool weather has hurt the annual bakeapple harvest.
Bakeapples are in scarce supply on the southeast coast of Labrador. Black Tickle resident Dinah Dyson says the wild berries are several weeks late in ripening and smaller than usual. (Lisa Gushue/CBC)

A woman in southeast Labrador is worried there could be more hardship for her isolated coastal community.

In addition to the crab processing plant closure three years ago, the only gas station in Black Tickle is slated to close its doors this fall.

Resident Dinah Dyson told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning this summer's cool weather has hurt the annual bakeapple harvest.

She said the wild berries are a big part of the local economy.

"The last few years — absolutely important to this community," said Dyson.

"The community has taken some big dips, and with the plant pulling out and everything. The bakeapples were absolutely important to us, in terms of employment."

Dyson said the berries are several weeks late ripening, and seem to be smaller than usual, at least in her community.

She said this year's poor crop means there's more competition for the berries that are available.

"People come from Goose Bay, they come from Cartwright, they come from all over to berry-pick down here because as most people know, we are the land of the bakeapples," she said.

"So not seeing a big abundance is upsetting in a way."

Not just to put on your cheesecake

Dinah Dyson of Black Tickle, Labrador says this summer's cool weather is hurting the bakeapple harvest. (Dinah Dyson/Facebook)
Dyson said picking bakeapples can be lucrative — residents who pick them commercially can earn $5.00 or more per pound.

"People have done this for years, and as I've said to many people, I've done this for 20-something years now ... it's not just something to put in your fridge," she said.

"I can't speak for this year in particular, because I don't think the year's going to be over for a few weeks, but in terms of other years, you can make a lot of money."  

Dyson said in the past, she's picked up to a thousand pounds of bakeapples.

Keir Knudsen of The Dark Tickle Company, which buys local berries for its products, said he's heard the same story from pickers on the Northern Peninsula, where the company is located.

"It hasn't been a good year for bakeapples," he said.

"This is certainly not unusual, but this year is not as bad as others. One of two things happened: frost or heavy rain."