On Thursday, July 11, Wrenshall’s Farm LoLa was buzzing with activity, as pickers harvested its newest offering: honeyberries.
“It’s like a blueberry meets a SweeTart,” Farm LoLa owner Jason Amundsen said as he tasted a freshly picked berry. Honeyberries are a shrub native to Siberia, Poland and northern Japan that Amundsen has tried to add to the roster of berries available at Farm LoLa in the last few seasons.
Farm LoLa started as the “pick-your-own berry wing” of Locally Laid Egg Co.. Locally Laid sells eggs from pasture-raised chickens to local restaurants and supermarkets. The farm started with raspberries and blueberries, beginning its honeyberry experiment in 2016 after working with a consultant in Scotland.
Amundsen said he believed the climate of north-eastern Minnesota was similar enough to Siberia - honeyberries can survive in temperatures as cold as 47 degrees below zero- but the experience hasn’t been without challenges.
“We’ve made so many mistakes. It’s been a very humbling experience,” Amundsen said. “You can’t go to the (University of Minnesota) Extension or the Department of Agriculture to ask how to grow honeyberries because nobody is doing it here.”
Amundsen planted 10 acres of honeyberries at Farm LoLa, but getting to the point of harvest provided plenty of challenges. Farm LoLa has seven types of honeyberries growing, with the wojtek and ruben varieties quickly becoming the most productive.