Get wild about Nova Scotia’s provincial berry
Ask any Nova Scotian and they’ll probably tell you they feel pretty lucky to live in this part of the world. And when it comes to Nova Scotia wild blueberries, there’s a magical time in August when we literally are the luckiest locals in the world. That’s because during the short August harvest season, we enjoy Nova Scotia wild blueberries fresh from the field. It’s a truly local experience that belongs just to us.
Wild blueberries became a commercial industry in about 1940, but since then worldwide demand has grown. In fact, the world loves our blueberries and the industry in Nova Scotia is estimated at around $100 million, making it the number one fruit crop in acreage, export sales and value in the province. Imagine, one tiny little fruit having such a huge impact on our local economy. And that’s only the direct impact. When you consider the spinoff benefits the number increases substantially.
Blueberry farming is a family tradition in Nova Scotia as well. Many of the 1100 or so producers such as Millen Farms are family owned. And of course wild blueberries are key ingredients in fuelling other entrepreneurial ventures in our province like Van Dyk’s Pure Blueberry Juice.
What else can we tell you about Wild Nova Scotia blueberries? Well, we could talk until we’re blue in the face. Our friends at the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia helped us out with some highlights:
- The entire year’s crop is harvested in a little over three weeks. Fresh blueberries are only available locally during this time.
- The majority of the blueberry crop is frozen and sold year-round to domestic and international markets.
- 2014 was a record year for wild blueberries with a harvest of 62,000,000 pounds.
- The 2014 harvest would have been enough to provide every Nova Scotian with over 60 pounds of wild blueberries.
- The industry creates and sustains approximately 1500 direct year-round jobs in the province. During the harvest season that number increases by hundreds more.
- The oldest fields in the province have been in production for 100 years.
- The wild blueberry is Nova Scotia’s provincial fruit.
- Oxford Frozen Foods in Oxford, NS is the world’s largest supplier of frozen wild blueberries. The town is well known as the Wild Blueberry Capital of Canada.
- There are approximately 44,000 acres of blueberry field in our province
- Wild blueberries grow in two-year cycles, so half the crop is harvested every year.
- Wild blueberries are fat, sodium and cholesterol free.
- Wild blueberries are one of the most anti-oxidant rich fruits. These anti-oxidants fight harmful free-radicals in our bodies.
So here we are at the start of another wild blueberry harvest season with so many reasons to celebrate this homegrown delicacy. And speaking of celebrating the wild blueberry, we do that really well too. From August 14th – 29th, communities throughout Cumberland County put on quite the local party during the
Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival. It’s a fitting tribute to a berry that plays such huge role in the lives of so many locals.
Pick up a fresh pint (while you can) of local wild blueberries and enjoy them however you want…pancakes for breakfast, on a salad at lunch, in muffins, pies and deserts or by themselves as a snack anytime. And while your enjoying them, take a little bit of local pride in the fact that the rest of the world is a little bit red, or perhaps we should we say blue, with envy.