The hot, dry weather is ripening crops rapidly across Vancouver Island and saving a growing season that some feared was doomed after the long, wet spring. It also has one longtime Nanaimo U-Pick farmer wondering if the tradition of u picking could be headed for the history books. Skye Ryan reports.
Nick Dudink’s worried by what he’s seeing in his Nanaimo U-Pick fields this summer. Despite rows of plump berries, fewer and fewer people are coming out to pick them.
“I’ll tell you one thing, we have a feeling that the U-Pick business is a dying business,” Dudink said. “I’m really sorry we haven’t seen the people come out to do that.”
Just down the Island Highway at Jacob’s Berry Farm it’s a similar story, U-Pick business has plummeted here as well.
“I would say 40 per cent,” Jeet Bhatti of Jacob’s Berry Farm said. “Yeah in the last few years.”
“I’m thinking that the people are just too busy,” Dudink said. “Getting used to the berries that are coming down from California,” he added. “I’m not sure what it is but we’re getting less people,
“Getting used to the berries that are coming down from California,” he added. “I’m not sure what it is but we’re getting less people, less calls, less people.”
Dudink is now paying people to pick and sell his berries at farmer’s markets.
At Stocking Creek Farm U-Pick, it’s a different story though. Owners there say that drop off in business at other U-Picks could be old policies coming back to haunt the summer pastime. Many U-Picks wouldn’t allow children for years, and now those kids he says have grown up with no love of it.
“If kids aren’t doing this now when they’re young, they’re not going to do it later on down the line,” David Nikula of Stocking Creek Farm said. “So it kind of looks like it skipped a generation. We want to see more kids come out with heir parents. “
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