Saskatoon U-Picks in Michigan Near The End of the 2014 Season

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 7/16/2014

It’s been a great year, with good crops and exceptional interest. Saskatoon crops on several farms are now either depleted or otherwise committed.

Several saskatoon berry U-Picks will be wrapping up this week.

Jacob’s Farm (Traverse City, MI) will close for the year after Friday, July 18th.

Saskatoon Michigan (Williamsburg, MI) is now closed for the year.

The Saskatoon Berry Patch (Williamsburg, MI) will close for the year after Thursday, July 17th.

Vallad’s Saskatoon Berry Farm (Kalkaska, MI) will close for the year after Friday, July 18th.

Due to their more Northern location, Cross Farms (Northport, MI) will have U-Pick hours on the weekends of August 1-3 and August 8-10, from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM.

Grocery stores and Farm Markets will still have fruit for a while beyond this coming weekend.

How To Find Saskatoons in Grocery Stores in Northern Michigan

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers, For Members ON 7/16/2014

While we await photo contest entries (See “Announcing The Great Saskatoon Search Contest!”),  we can share some photos of what saskatoon berry displays look like in a couple of local grocery stores.

IMG_0205At Olseon’s Plaza West (Traverse City, MI) the saskatoons are in the produce department wall cooler, next to the raspberries, and above the strawberries.


While the supply is low today in this store, Oleson’s staff report that they are expecting another shipment tomorrow morning.

Across town, the look is a bit different.


At Tom’s East Bay (Traverse City, MI) you will find the saskatoons on a stand next to the cherries and apricots.


Tom’s also provides some information about saskatoons, which was prepared by Cherry Capital Foods.


This is not a complete directory of stores carrying saskatoon berries. Rather, these are examples, reflecting photos that we have seen so far. As always, if you do not see saskatoons, ask store staff members.

If you find saskatoons elsewhere, and you have your smart phone or camera with you, snap a picture to post on this blog, and you may find yourself the satisfied winner of a jar of awesome saskatoon jam!


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, 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.  

Cherry Capital Foods Offers Frozen Saskatoon Berries

POSTED IN For Members ON 7/14/2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.31.15 PMFor year round use, Cherry Capital Foods of Traverse City sells frozen saskatoon berries in 20# buckets. Frozen berries can be ideal for recipes and processed foods. Currently Cherry Capital Foods has about 4,000 pounds of saskatoon berries available for purchase, as well as a variety of other produce.

Cherry Capital Foods is a distributor, selling to wholesalers (restaurants, stores, institutions). They do not accept direct-to-consumer orders.

To learn more, go to: or email directly to:


What About Juneberries?

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers, For Members ON 7/14/2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.21.36 PMThis morning’s NPR Morning Edition story “Saskawhat: A Novel Berry From Canada Takes Root On Michigan Farms” has been feeding a discussion about the the name(s) of the fruit of Amelanchier alnifolia, which this site often calls saskatoons, but describes in the “About Saskatoons” tab as having several common names, including Juneberries.

As far as this author is concerned, this fruit tastes great regardless of the label one affixes to it.

That said,  in an effort to address the various voices responding to the NPR story filed by Peter Payette of Interlochen Public Radio, I offer the following observations.

Wikipedia identifies 15 species of Amelanchier found in North America:

The same source notes that another species “Amelanchier lamarckii” is common in Europe. Botanists speculate that this European species originally came from Canada, but is not found there, in the wild.

Another name is Sarvisberry, similar to Serviceberry.

One might note that particular common names can be used for a variety of species, indicating that the common names are not necessarily species specific.

The species currently propogated in Northern Michigan, and covered in the NPR story, is Amelanchier alnifolia. The common name saskatoon berry is specific to Amelanchier alnifolia. On a different Wikipedia page, the following list of names are shown for Amelanchier alnifolia: saskatoonPacific serviceberrywestern serviceberryalder-leaf shadbushdwarf shadbushchuckley pear, or western juneberry, and pigeon berry. This list includes some names shown above, and some others as well.

Within the species Amelanchier alnifolia there are also cultivars, with variations in characteristics, allowing growers to choose what they perceive to be more desirable features such as soil and temperature compatibility as well as flavor and texture preferences. Cultivars affect many of us on a daily basis, from grocery store options of many fruits and vegetable to the colors or your favorite flowers and the shapes of leaves of bushes and trees. Some of the cultivars being harvested commercially in Michigan include: Thiessen, JB-30, Northline, Martin, and Smoky. These cultivars are not native to Michigan, though various Amelanchier species do grow wild, and are used in landscaping, in Michigan. Because cultivars represent preferences, there is no one right answer for everyone.

While not all environments can grow the fruit of Amelanchier alnifolia (as they require a specific number of days of below freezing weather – 90, I believe), provinces and states that grow Amelanchier alnifolia include:


o Alberta (more commonly called saskatoons)
o British Columbia (more commonly called saskatoons)
o Manitoba (more commonly called saskatoons)
o Nova Scotia (more commonly called saskatoons)
o Ontario (more commonly called saskatoons)
o Quebec
o Saskatchewan (more commonly called saskatoons)

The United States of America:

o California
o Idaho (more commonly called saskatoons)
o Illinois
o Maine (more commonly called juneberries)
o Massachusetts (more commonly called juneberries)
o Michigan (more commonly called saskatoons)
o Minnesota (more commonly called juneberries)
o Montana (a variety of names)
o Nebraska
o New Hampshire
o New York (more commonly called juneberries)
o North Dakota (more commonly called juneberries)
o Oregon
o Pennsylvania
o Washington
o Wisconsin

In many locations there may be some confusion about the season of ripe fruit. In Michigan, for instance, the fruit ripens in July, but is not called Julyberry. In other locations, such as New York, the fruit can ripen in June, making Juneberry a very accurate description.

We continue to work on learning more about the variations in each of these locations, and welcome information from readers and other sources.


Tom’s Food Markets in Traverse City, MI now selling Saskatoons

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers, For Members ON 7/14/2014

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Four Tom’s Food Market locations in Traverse City, MI now carry saskatoon berries in their produce sections including: 738 Munson Ave, 1201 S. Division St, 6353 US 31 N (Williamsburg) and 13940 S West Bay Shore Dr.

Growers and fruit fans alike welcome Tom’s to the growing list of retail stores carrying fresh fruit.

Shoppers will want to make note of this addition, and avoid confusing them with blueberries, based on their size and color.

Saskatoons are a unique fruit, with a unique flavor and unique dietary benefits.

Saskatoon Berry Institute of North America members continue to develop products that may soon be available on store shelves throughout the year.

NPR’s Morning Edition Features Saskatoons

POSTED IN For Consumers, For Growers, For Members ON 7/14/2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 12.07.45 PMThis morning, Monday, July 14th, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast, coast-to-coast, included a story about the developing saskatoon berry industry in Northern Michigan. You can read and/or hear the story on the NPR website: Institute members report receiving related contacts within hours of the story airing. Kudos to the pioneers who are bringing this industry to fruition, and our thanks to those in the news media who are getting the word out.

Vallads Saskatoon Berry Farm Offers U-Pick Hours

POSTED IN Uncategorized ON 7/13/2014

Sam Vallad says his crop in Kalkaska is ready for U-Pickers.

Come on out and enjoy this exceptional super fruit!  You can eat them fresh or in a variety to yummy recipes.

Saskatoons Spotted in More Stores and Markets

POSTED IN For Consumers ON 7/10/2014

We understand that you can now buy fresh saskatoon berries in the following places:   Northwest Michigan Evergreen Market 8066 US HWY 31 North Williamsburg, MI 49690 (231) 342-3994 Hoxie’s Farm Market 6620 M 72 E Williamsburg, MI 49690 (231) 267-9087 Jacob’s Farm Market 7100 E. Traverse Hwy. (M-72 West) Traverse City, MI 49684 (231) 632-6293 Elk Rapids Farmer’s Market (Friday’s 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM)   Northeast Michigan AJ’s Berry Farm Market 1150 Salina Rd Lachine, MI 49753 (989) 379-3061   Ed. note: This is not intended to be a complete list, but is provided to help you find saskatoons.

Saskatoon Berries Spread Further North to Village Markets

POSTED IN Uncategorized ON 7/9/2014

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Village Market Stores in Elk Rapids, Rapid City and Central Lake are now selling fresh saskatoon berries.

These special berries are growing in popularity as fruit fans are introduced to their unique taste and versatility.  Saskatoons are great fresh, in fruit salad, on breakfast cereal, on ice cream, or by the handful. They can also be used in pie, jam, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, meat sauce, and a variety of beverages.

While this fruit is new to many Michiganders, it has been growing on the Northern US and the Canadian provinces for hundreds of years.

You can learn more, below, in this blog and on the About Saskatoons tab.