Help yourself to a harvest
After a summer of growing, some farmers are focusing on harvest, but other farms invite people to help them harvest, and let them keep the fruits or vegetables of their labour.
Throughout Central Alberta, u-pick farm operations have let people stock up on the summer treats.
Pete and Jan Wasylyshyn run Prairie Perfect Orchards near Innisfail. Pete said they just started picking a week ago and the season has been good so far.
“It’s not an early season by any means, but it is a very good season,” said Pete. “We have a very good crop, the trees are maturing and they’re now seven to eight years old so they’re really putting on the size of fruit we’ve been looking for.”
They have all six of the Saskatchewan prairie hearty cherries and by the end of August their apples will be coming in. A couple of weeks ago they finished up their honey berries.
“All of our trees and fruit are chemical free,” said Pete.
Prairie Perfect Orchards is open from Wednesday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., they are closed on Tuesdays.
Out at Eagle Creek Farms near Bowden the picking season runs until early September.
“It’s picking up really well now, we have lots of carrots, potatoes, beets, onions and flowers in the u-pick,” said John Mills, of Bowden Sun Maze and Eagle Creek Farms.
“We’re open until it freezes.”
Eagle Creek Farms is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays it is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Over at the Saskatoon Orchard near Lacombe the season has wound down with the last day of picking taking place this past weekend.
“It was a pretty good year, average I guess,” said Carol Wedlund, of the u-pick. “We had some hail damage in late July so that impacted us a bit, but overall it turned out pretty good.”
They usually have a three-week window for their Saskatoon berries.
“Each year, through a little word-of-mouth and return customers, we’re seeing a little more and more,” said Wedlund. “Still not what it could be, but we are 30 miles out of Red Deer.”
An incomplete list of area u-picks includes Billyco Junction Gardens on Prentiss Road south of Lacombe. They have strawberries, raspberries, Saskatoon berries and apples. They are open Friday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday to Thursday from 1 to 7:30 p.m.
The Jungle Farm near Innisfail features strawberries, lettuce, artichokes, cucumbers, pumpkins, tomatoes and more. They are open for the Strawberry season from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and starting Aug. 30 they switch to fall hours, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment