The Berry Project

The Berry Project

There are numerous berry crops that grow well in the region and which could be grown for the local market on small areas of land. This project explored the possibility of commercial berry growing in the NWT as a way of making use of the natural attributes of local soil.

Local agricultural land is in very limited supply, but berries are high value crops that require only small areas of land for production. Berries are very perishable, which results in relatively high losses and high prices in grocery stores when compared to other fruit and vegetables. This study thus examines the feasibility of producing berries in the Yellowknife, Dettah and N'dilo region (capital region) for the fresh local market.

This research helped to support the Yellowknife Community Garden Society (YCGS) and Ecology North to plant a demonstration orchard in Yellowknife in 2014. This community orchard produces raspberries, saskatoons and Haskap berries, and is open to all Yellowknife residents and anyone visiting the city. The orchard is maintained by the YCGS and volunteer gardeners, and will continue to benefit the community in the years to come.

 

Summary:

  • The paper considers blueberries, sour cherries, cranberries, Ribes (currants & gooseberries), Haskap berries, raspberries, saskatoons, strawberries, gogi berries, and sea buckthorn, for their potential in a local orchard.
  • A survey of residents was completed to determine what berries are locally harvested and grown, which would be preferred for a local orchard, and how people use berries.
  • Four marketing options were explored for selling local berries: selling to grocery stores and other wholesale customers, selling at stands or farmers markets, selling through community supported agriculture programs (CSAs), and direct farm sales including u pick.
  • The business case was explored for two types of orchards. The first was a 5 hectare orchard with multiple species and multiple marketing techniques. The second was a 0.2 hectare orchard growing primarily raspberries, with saskatoons as a secondary crop, and where all berries are prepicked for wholesale customers. Both models were found to be profitable and viable based on estimated berry production levels and equipment costs.

Funding for this project was provided by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), which is administered by the Territorial Farmers Association (TFA).

If you’d like to know more about the findings of this project you can read this report:

Stimulating Commercial Berry Production