Nova Scotia strawberry fields producing bumper crop
Plants survive tough winter to feed demand for 'super' harvest of berries
Despite the brutal winter, strawberry crops in the Annapolis Valley are producing one of the all-time best harvests, producers say.
A relieved Elianor Kennie of Kennie's Strawberry Farms said berry producers weren't sure how the rough winter and cold spring would affect their crops this summer.
But as peak season blooms, dozens of workers cover two shifts a day, harvesting 2,000 flats of the crop at her farm near Kentville.
"This is one of the heaviest yielding crops we've ever had," said Kennie. "It's just fantastic and the quality of the berries are super, they're just wonderful berries this year."
It's a welcome change from two years ago, when a virus hurt plants across Nova Scotia, badly damaging 30 per cent of the strawberry crop.
Pick your own treats
Amateurs are out in number, too, gathering treats in the u-pick section.
"I'm here with my three kids: Liam, Anna and Issabelle," said Melissa Ruther. "We're from Dartmouth and we're planning on making strawberry-rhubarb jam."
Others were picking berries to sell.
"My grandfather is from Digby County and we're here helping him pick a bunch," said Kyle Walsh. "We'll probably pick about 40 flats today and re-sell them."
Most of the berries picked from the farm are packaged up and trucked into the Halifax area. This year instead of a big grocery chain, they're going to Gateway Meat Market near Cole Harbour.
People have been flocking to the back of a truck to buy fresh berries at a rate of 700 flats every morning.
"This is the first batch of berries for us and we just plan on devouring these ones," said Dan Coffin. "We're not making jam or anything, we're just going to eat them all."
It's been a good business partnership for the farmer and the market.
"Everybody has been waiting for months for local berries and they're finally here and they definitely come out in hordes whenever the berries pull into the parking lot in the morning", said Gateway Meat Market manager Tamara McKay.
Commercial harvesters will work about another 10 days before the season ends.