Elaine Bouvier checks her haskap berries at Bouvier’s Berry Basket, the orchard and u-pick she runs near Kincaid, Saskatchewan.
Richard Marjan / Supplied photo
When Elaine and Ronald Bouvier started a small berry U-pick back in 1996, they expected a few neighbours and people from nearby Kincaid as customers.
“I never expected the way things went. People come from all over,” Elaine says.
Her orchard, called Bouvier’s Berry Basket, has grown to just over five acres (Ronald handles the grain farming on their land).
“We’ve made a lot of great friends over the years from it, and people that we look forward to seeing every year.”
Saskatoon berries are her biggest and most popular crop. She also grows sour cherries, haskaps, apples, raspberries, strawberries, and even watermelon and grapes. A dugout on the property provides irrigation.
Staggering her planting each year worked well in running the farm overall — and it’s turned out to be a perfect fit for the U-pick business.
“I just started off with a few rows and every year we plant another 100 or 200,” Elaine says. “It worked out well because it takes about six years for the trees to mature. And so as the trees matured, my customer base grew, too. it wasn’t really planned that way. It’s just how it worked out.”
Picnic tables are sprawled throughout a large, manicured yard, flanked by towering poplars, weeping willows and fir trees.
Nods to the past are everywhere on the farm; Elaine converted a historic old barn into a berry weighing, sorting and packaging area for her customers.
Make sure to get a picture with the ‘Biffy Bin’ — an old grain bin the couple converted into a wheelchair accessible washroom with antiques and even an old branding iron inside.
Treasure the haskaps if you can get your hands on them; it’s a constant battle against nature to grow the berries. The haskaps are all netted to keep birds from decimating the harvest.
The Bouviers host a music festival in early July (mark your calendar for next year!) to kick off the saskatoon berry season. People come from all over for a slice of Elaine’s homemade cherry pie and for a lounge under one of those big poplars.
The U-pick season starts in June, seven days a week from sunup to sundown, and goes until the fruit has all been harvested. Visit their Facebook page for more info and directions to the farm.
Jenn Sharp is a freelance writer in Saskatoon.Her first book, Flat Out Delicious: Your Guide to Saskatchewan’s Food Artisans, will be published by Touchwood Editions in 2020. Follow her on Twitter @JennKSharp, Instagram @flatoutfoodsk, and Facebook.