Sask. vegetable farmers hoping more people buy local
With harvest underway in Saskatchewan, vegetable growers are bringing in their bounty, and hoping more consumers will choose home grown produce this fall.
Joan Merrill is proud of the high production this year in the pumpkin patch at her market garden near Saskatoon. She says after a slow start, it's turned out to be a good year for growing vegetables. In fact, many of the 35 kinds of vegetables she grows have developed and produced earlier than normal.
"By mid-August, we've been harvesting corn. We had early cucumbers, early beans, and early peas. Everything has been probably a little bit ahead of schedule. This is phenomenal considering we started the season two-weeks behind," says Merril.
She says Saskatchewan vegetable growers continue to produce and market high-quality product. But to their dismay, only about 10 per cent of the vegetables consumed in the province are Saskatchewan-grown. "In the past I would say we haven't been able to supply much of our own Saskatchewan commercial market. And I think perhaps we're emerging from that. And we may be able to convince enough growers that there's a really good wholesale commercial market in Saskatchewan."
Dan Erlandson sells most of his vegetables at farmers markets in the province. The Outlook area grower is confident the province's vegetable industry is entering an expansion phase and that more home grown vegetables will be available soon.
"I think it's very up and up. There's been great support from the public for local production of our stuff. And I think if people could find it in stores and they could find it in greater quantities, they would receive it very well," says Erlandson.
Erlandson says expanding the market makes sense given the ample land and water resources in the province. "We have a whole lot of irrigation opportunities, which allows for a greater acreage of vegetables to be planted in the province. And they're high-value crops, so it's a good way to utilize acres."
To help promote growth, the Saskatchewan Vegetable Growers Association is developing a program to brand produce grown in the province.