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Farms reap berry bounty

Betty Baerg of Shell Road Farm holds baskets of tayberries and raspberries—both at their peak in South Richmond.  - Matthew Hoekstra
Betty Baerg of Shell Road Farm holds baskets of tayberries and raspberries—both at their peak in South Richmond.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra

Strawberry season may be over, but Richmond’s other berry crops are ripe and ready—including one of the city’s lesser-known varieties.

Tayberries have been a mainstay at Shell Road Farm since the Baerg family started business 23 years ago. They might be less popular than the farm’s sweet crop of raspberries, but with few local growers, the tayberry is a popular draw for the South Richmond farm.

“We are getting more and more customers every year. Once they try it, they’re a repeat customer,” said Betty Baerg said of the deep red berry that’s a cross between a blackberry and raspberry. “It makes a very nice pie.”

Berry season started at the small farm two weeks ago, and should continue through July.

Meanwhile, at CanWest Farms at Blundell and Sidaway roads, blueberries began coming off the fields about a week ago—a little earlier than last year.

“This weekend we’ll be in full production for berries,” said Humraj Kallu, operations manager at the 40-hectare operation. “As of right now, the volume looks promising.”

CanWest sells to numerous markets, including Japan, and direct to customers at its East Richmond farm.

The blueberry harvest will continue through the summer months, according to Kallu, who said the berries are the biggest he’s seen in recent years.

The season for June-bearing strawberries also started early this year. Sales ended this week at W&A Farms in East Richmond, and longtime grower Bill Zylmans said the season was long—lasting five weekends this year compared to the usual three or four.

“We had a phenomenal crop. Our berries looked extremely well, and the quality was great. The weather was a little bit of an issue, but that’s part of being in farming.”

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