Peter Breederland with his crop of goji berries at Aldergrove's Topgro Greenhouses.

Peter Breederland with his crop of goji berries at Aldergrove's Topgro Greenhouses.

Goji berry crop opens to U-pickers

An Aldergrove grower of goji berries is opening his farm to "U-pickers" for the first time this month.

An Aldergrove grower of goji berries is opening his farm to “U-pickers” for the first time this month.

Peter Breederland has the only goji berry farm in Canada

The goji is a bright orange-red, bean-shaped berry which contains a mix of vitamins A and C, antioxidants, minerals, amino acids and protein, and studies have shown they can boost energy and metabolism.

They have a sweet, tart taste and have long been a staple of the Asian diet.

The goji berry’s nickname is the “happy berry,” which is how Gojoy got their name.

Peter Breederland has been a farmer for close to 40 years. He started in the industry when he was 16 years old in his native Holland and carried on when he came to Canada 27 years ago.

For the past 23 years, the now 54-year-old has successfully run Topgro Greenhouses Ltd. on his 50-acre property in Aldergrove. But his greenhouse operation was only using 10 acres of his property to produce sweet miniature bell peppers and he was looking to expand, so he set out to find his next venture.

What followed next was a great deal of research and different experiments with goji berries, despite many telling Peter that goji berries could not be grown in Canada. The goji berry is native to China, which made learning about it all the more difficult for Breederland.

Some of the research included how to grow the plants, how to fertilize, which fertilizer to use, how to prune the bushes, possible insects, and more.

All of this was done from scratch, with Breederland relying on his farming know-how, as well as some trial and error.

And in 2004, he produced his first crop of goji berries.

Breederland now has 10 acres on his property devoted to growing goji berries.

The farm will be open for U-pickers on the next two weekends, Fridays and Saturdays, June 17-18, and June 24-25.

The price on U-pick goji berries is $20 per kg (equivalent to $9 lb), and if you pick three kilograms or more you receive 10 per cent off.

Topgro will also have goji plants for sale in a range of sizes for your garden.

Topgro is located at 1110 – 264 St.

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