This past weekend we (the Sustainable ag class) were supported by a local couple, Ted and Sandy, to go on a field trip to Montreal. Our first stop was at the Green Barn Nursery- a nursery whose website seb and i have visited at least 25 times, to drool over the amazing, cold-hardy, fruits and nuts in their catologue. They are becoming famous in the fruit and nut world in this part of the world- and we went to find out exactly why.
Steve, the son of Ken Taylor who is the founder of the greenbarn, gave us a tour and talk. he reminded us of how little fruit we eat from Ontario, and how crazy it is that we grow so little fruit. His biggest fruit of interst is the asian pear- his goal: to sell organic pears in vending machines in schools across canada and his other goal (jokingly said) is to sell organic pears back to China. He told us that if we grow asian pears he will buy back the fruit to dry and make into healthy snacks for kids. cool!
Most people in the farming world know that apples are very difficult to grow organically- they have many pest and disease problems. Most apples we eat are heavily sprayed. Asian pears, on the other hand, have few known pests or diseases (yet!), and there is no need for spraying them.
His favourite nut is heartnut- a beautiful nut shaped like a heart. It is delicious, a bit like a walnut, we cracked them open to try. Unfortunately it has the potential to cross with butternut, a native species, but he claims that this may not be a problem. It is something to look into more, because it is a nut i certainly would love to grow.
Anyways, for Seb and I, since we are planning on growing lots of fruits and nuts, it was great to see the pros at work. Steve just happened to be a savvy business man- and was able to convince us about the profitability of fruits and nuts grown in ontario by telling us his yearly salary (higher than most farmers i know)…
Likely we will buy a lot of our fruit and nut plant stock from these folks.