Strawberry Field Trip
This week we headed to Montreal for the North American Strawberries Growers Association summer tour.We spent 2 days touring all different farms, nurseries and markets around the Montreal area. On the tour we stopped at FraiseBec the largest strawberry grower in Canada, growing 58 hectares of strawberries. It was a really interesting place to visit, to see how they plant, pick and maintain so many hectares of strawberries. At FraiseBec they also use women to pick and pack the berries as well as to cut runners. I found this very interesting because most other places only use men.
On the tour we also visited strawberry plant propagators. The propagators are where we purchase our plants each year, to plant in the spring. So it was really interesting to see that whole other side of the operation and hear about some new promising varieties. It is important to keep up with all the new varieties and changes happening in growing strawberries or you get left behind. We also saw demonstrations of new machinery used for cutting the runners of plants, but at this point I don’t think the machines can replace the quality of hand cutting the runners.
Along the tour we also stopped at several farms which had markets on their farms, or used the strawberries to make secondary products such as cider. It was interesting to see other peoples markets and how they step things up. As well as to learn how they process their cider. All along the tour we were greeted by extremely friendly hosts who were happy to share their information on how they do things and they all ensured we never left with an empty stomach. We were fed many delicious meals of fresh French cuisine in giant sized proportions.
The tour was a great way to get to know other strawberry growers from as far away as the Dominican Republic. We had a lot of time to get to know each other and hear about how people do things and what works and doesn’t work for them. At the end of the day we had some new friends and some fresh ideas we can us to improve the way we do things.