Growing Pains: How Growers in New York Face Shortage

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 7/14/2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.52.01 PMWhen Guy Lister, owner of Juneberry Farm in Ovid, NY (Finger Lakes area) planted about 500 juneberry bushes (Amelanchier alnifolia, also known as saskatoon bushes) a few years ago, he hoped that a market would develop for the sale of his crop beyond his U-Pick operation. After a Fall 2014 planting of 2 year old plants which he kept potted in his high tunnel, Lister will have 1,800 plants, though many are not yet mature enough to produce fruit. And he has a problem too. He does not have enough berries. Demand exceeds supply in 2014. Lister expects many more of his plants will bear fruit in 2015, and he looks forward to taking that next BIG step. Even though many Americans across the country are unfamiliar with juneberries (saskatoons), those that know them want more. This year Juneberry Farm offers U-Pick raspberries, black currant, blackberries, honey berries, figs, garlic and herbs as well as fresh free range eggs.  “When my raspberry pickers tried [juneberries] they immediately asked if they could pick them too. I had people from as far away as N. Dakota contact me, on Facebook, requesting shipments. I declined stating I didn’t have enough to meet their needs and besides I’m very concerned that they would not ship well, esp. in summer temps.” reports Lister. Like other Institute members in Northern Michigan, Lister sees many vacationers at his farm. “Being in the Finger Lakes we get lots of vacationers from large cities. They want to experience ‘fresh’ that they picked/selected with their own fingers. But now that they’ve tasted them, if they saw them for sale in their city I’m quite sure they’d buy them especially as an alternative berry fruit.” he says. Chefs in the Finger Lakes area are working on recipes that use juneberries, and providing those menu items to East Coast vacationers. While Lister has a Facebook page, and Cornell University hosts http://www.juneberries.org, the best advertising may well be the contents of a plate or bowl. If you have a dish that includes juneberries, please post a picture and description on this page. We’d love to see what restaurants and other cooking enthusiasts are doing. While Northern Michigan grocers are lining up to sell saskatoons (juneberries), the East Coast is not yet ready for that level of production and distribution.  But check back with us next summer. Things are bound to change.  

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