Forest Fires force early Haskap Harvest -June 2023

I'm writing from my family orchard up at Birch Hills. Our farm is experiencing the results of climate change firsthand. 

Due to the unusual spring and then massive forest fires across Canada, the jungle-style conditions pushed the haskap berries our orchard grows to an excessively early ripeness. Not only that, but all 5 varieties of haskap we grow are ripe at the same time, even though they have always ripened one after another.

We deliberately grew specific varieties that ripen at different times. We have NEVER BEFORE harvested any of our varieties starting June 17 -- we are two weeks early. We normally employ local high school students in Birch Hills to help. Those kids are still in school right now. By the time they are out of school, we will be done. This is climate change, affecting youth, right here within a small community in Saskatchewan.

We have always had forest fires in Saskatchewan and Canada. But what is new is the extent of the problem. Every year this is getting worse and costing more lives and financial hardship. More communities are being impacted. In recent days, the majority of Saskatchewan and Canada's population has been exposed to toxic smoke threatening the health of those who are pregnant, people with disabilities, the elderly, and the young. And increasingly, Indigenous People are being displaced from their communities. We had more area burned across Canada than is normally affected in an entire fire season. These fires, like our haskap crop, were very early this year. 

We need to elect MLAs in Saskatchewan who take climate change seriously and put in place disaster preparedness measures. We need MLAs in this province who are purely motivated to help others and the planet. We are standing on the very précipice of a tipping point. Please donate any skills you have to help us mobilize for the 2024 provincial election. Some have it in them to be candidates, some can donate time and legwork, some can help support candidates, and some have funds to donate. Everyone is needed. Please contact us at [email protected] to get more involved. Or reach out to me personally anytime, 1-306-561-8880 (text is best right now as I don't hear my phone ring on the harvester) or email [email protected].

I hope you are all surviving these smokey conditions the best that you are able and taking extra care of your lungs. 

Naomi Hunter, Saskatchewan Green Party Leader 

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