Berry growers in Ontario utilize advanced methods of sustainable berry cultivation, harvesting and packaging. Many are multi-generational, family-run operations. They steward the land through techniques such as soil testing, crop rotation and mulching with biodegradable materials. Straw is commonly used to protect strawberries and suppress weed competitors.
Integrated pest management involves preventing pests and disease if possible, monitoring for their presence and treating with pesticides only when economic thresholds are reached.
Growers use biological controls- good bugs eating bad bugs- when possible. In this instance, companion species are planted to provide habitat for the good bugs. Sometimes through pruning bushes and managing field perimeters, growers can ensure a less attractive environment for pests. Planting varieties that are resistant to disease is another tactic.
If pesticides are used, they are registered by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency which relies upon the most recent scientific data that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and non-target organisms and the environment.
In recent years, growers are experimenting with sustainable types of packaging, that are from fibres that can decompose or materials that can be recycled. Packaging must be sturdy enough to handle fragile fruit from the fields to the coolers, and also transparent enough to allow fruit to be examined by consumers.
Here are three examples of berry growers with comprehensive sustainability policies.