HITTING THE SWEET SPOT EVERY TIME – HALDIMAND’S TASTY BERRY PATCH EXPERIENCE.
For husband and wife team Brian and Linda Young, the taste of success couldn’t be sweeter. Season after season, their popular destination, Blueberry Knoll Berry Farm, offers a summer-long harvest of sweet and juicy berries, available either for purchase at their farm stand, or you can pick them yourself fresh off the plants in their well-manicured fields
“You always get the pick of the crop when you pick your own,” says Brian. “That’s because our picking crews harvest a different area of the field so the ‘first fruits’ are always available to our pick-your-own customers.”
Farming and cultivating blueberries, along with strawberries and raspberries, has been a labour of love from the very beginning for Brian and Linda. “We first purchased our 100-acre property in 1984 as a newlywed couple, and at that time it was partly swamp and overgrown with weeds,” says Brian. “Over a period of several years, the land was cleared and drained. In 1989, we planted our first two acres of blueberries.”
The rest, as they say, is history – and a very tasty one. The berries grown by Brian and Linda were bursting with flavour, perfect for jams and pies or simply enjoying as they are, freshly picked from the field. “We wanted to share what we had, and the plants were producing enough blueberries by the summer of 1994 so we were able to open to the public,” says Linda. “Each year, mostly through word of mouth, we have continually grown in popularity. It’s been a rewarding experience, involving hard work, perseverance, patience and the opportunity to meet a lot of great people over the years.” Definitely one sweet adventure for their visitors as well!
”From 1997 to 2003, more plantings of blueberries were added for a total of six acres. Then, in 2002, wanting to offer a greater variety to its valued customers, Brian and Linda added raspberries and strawberries to their farm, followed later by sweet corn. “Ponds were dug for irrigation use and in 2004 we erected a greenhouse,” says Brian.
“We raised our three children on the farm and they were all actively involved in its growth and production,” adds Linda. “They are all married now and we are welcoming the third generation. We look forward to the little ones also getting involved and making memories on the farm as they grow up.”
Going beyond the harvests from their berry fields, Brian and Linda decided to also expand into other delicious opportunities. “We started selling homemade bread from our home in 1992,” recalls Linda. “We then added other products and had a health-inspected kitchen approved in 2009.” The expansion was so successful that by 2012 they could no longer handle the baking volume in their original kitchen. “So, we added a health-inspected bakery to our farm market,” says Linda. “We make jams, breads, pies, and other straight-from-scratch baked goods. We use our own fresh berries as well as other locally grown fruits, such as Niagara peaches and cherries.” Baked goods are available year round with a well-stocked freezer offering abundant choices when just-picked fresh is not available. Orders can be taken any time.
So, what exactly is the formula for growing such sweet deliciousness? “It comes down to healthy soil, which leads to healthy plants, which produces healthy and nutritious fruit,” explains Brian. “The end result is fruit full of flavour and juiciness.” As farmers, Brian and Linda also practice crop rotation, and use composts, mulches, and foliar nutrition to achieve the highest possible level of Brix (sugar/mineral) content. “This provides the quality and flavour our customers have become accustomed to,” notes Linda. “We also regularly plant several bee gradens (flowering cover crops) at Blueberry Knoll to help keep these important pollinators happy. We try to plant some of these crops where customers can also see and enjoy them when visiting.”
“The farm’s growing season is generally from mid-May through the end of August. During the fall and winter months, frozen fruit, baked goods and jams are always available, but watch for reduced hours during those months. We offer a wide variety of home-baked made-from-scratch pies at Thanksgiving and special cookies and bars at Christmas time,” says Linda.
When it comes to Haldimand County’s prime destination for strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, the sweet spot is Blueberry Knoll Berry Farm. It’s not only a delicious destination, but also a healthy way to enjoy a sweet treat. “Blueberries in particular are full of valuable antioxidants and vital health benefits,” says Linda. “We like to say a few blueberries a day helps keep the doctor away!”
Indulge your taste for fresh-picked berries, homemade baked goods, jams, and much more with a stop at Blueberry Knoll Berry Farm. Sign up for their newsletter today to receive all the latest farm news, updates and mouth-watering recipes. It just doesn’t get any sweeter!
1091 Hutchinson Road Lowbanks, ON N0A 1K0
Haldimand County gratefully acknowledges the support of FedDev Ontario for tourism businesses in Ontario’s Southwest.