SIMCOE, ON – What would Canada Day be without strawberries? Fortunately, as our national birthday approaches, Ontario growers are reporting that the largest and best quality strawberry crop in many years is available now at fresh produce outlets across Ontario.
“Not only do we have new growing techniques, but we have 200 growers who can bring local berries to market for an extended season,” says Tom Heeman, chair, Berry Growers of Ontario (BGO). “That’s good news for consumers who may be used to a short season. Ontario-grown field strawberries can be found May through October. And greenhouse-grown strawberries are now available year-round.”
New production techniques using covered, raised troughs allow for strawberries to be grown at waist height for easier harvesting and under protective tunnels for better quality. The result is a sweet, high-quality berry that’s sheltered from the ravages of rain and wind. Ever-bearing berries pay no heed to day-length and bloom continuously, producing berries from spring to fall. High tunnel protection is also being used to improve the quantity and quality of Ontario raspberries, expected to reach local grocery shelves by mid-July.
Local berries are the right choice for several reasons:
- Environmental benefits from reduced carbon footprint versus imports
- Nutrition benefits beyond antioxidants to improved brain and gut health
- Economic benefits go to local farmers instead of foreign markets.
The Berry Growers of Ontario is a provincial association representing 200 strawberry, raspberry and blueberry farmers. Together, they grow berries valued at about $40 million annually. The mission of the association is to advocate for best production practices and the extraordinary health benefits of berries. All facets of the berry industry are represented including: wholesale, retail, pick-your-own farms and roadside markets. The association is regulated under the Farm Products Marketing Act.