When Andrew first started planting berries in 2005 for fun, little did he know that he was planting a seed for his eventual trailblazing to help launch the haskap industry in Canada.
Andrew is the owner of Rosy Farms—a farm and orchard dedicated to growing haskap berries northwest of Edmonton in rural Alberta. If you haven’t heard of haskaps before, they are quickly becoming North America’s newest super fruit. They are chock full of antioxidants and taste like a mix between blueberries and raspberries. The word “haskap” itself has Japanese roots and means “little presents on the end of branches.”
A Seed to Sow
From the very beginning, Andrew knew that entering into the agricultural world would take a tremendous degree of hard work and patience. As an avid runner and athlete, Andrew is no stranger to the required level of commitment, focus, and endurance needed to achieve distant goals. He completed his first Ironman in 2006 and has since completed 5 full Ironman triathlons. Andrew’s education and training includes two Canadian Red Seal trade tickets and a diploma in Production Horticulture from Olds College.
Like many agriculture-based businesses, it takes time to reap the rewards. “It’s been a slow burn” as Andrew puts it, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Andrew first bought his land in 2014, did land reclamation in 2015, and planted his first haskap orchard in 2016—which included over 10,000 bushes! Things have been growing steadily over the years, and next year he plans to be ready for a more significant harvest and to take advantage of economies of scale.
Andrew’s long-term vision is to grow wholesale fruit for domestic and international markets in hopes of turning haskaps into an everyday fruit. As for right now, he’s enjoying offering U-Pick, working with farmers markets, and involvement in Ag-related activities.
“Build your plan then work your plan.”
Andrew is no stranger to research, and relied on in-depth market research data to make informed strategic business decisions. He used his business plan as a barometer to help weed out whether the business was going to be viable or not.
Although there are many reasons why Andrew started his farming business, it was his dream “to create something on [his] own and something to share with people.” It’s this passion that fuels him daily—he loves the process, tackling goals, adapting things, and moving forward.
“It’s about doing things bigger, better, faster, stronger!”
There is still a feeling that the venture is in its early days. Andrew’s biggest challenges have continually been striking a balance between operating the horticultural business, working up north in the trades away from home, and spending quality time with family, friends, and in his relationship.
Andrew is very active in the agricultural community as founder of the Haskap Alberta Association, a shareholder of North 49 Fruit Corporation, and involvement with the Young Agrarians and other organizations. Andrew has also done extensive agronomy research—talking with producers, travelling the country and even taking part in an international trade mission to Japan in 2018.
“Haskaps are turning from a fun, small-scale, niche crop to a growing internationally demanded product.”
Andrew’s complete breadth of knowledge with haskap berries includes everything from the different varieties, planting techniques, production, quality control, processing, and sales & marketing.
Andrew is very humble but has tons of wisdom for budding farmers and business owners alike. One of his best pieces of advice is to make sure you get outside your bubble and build connections with other people. “It’s all about building your network and your tribe.”
“Successful entrepreneurship is about having people above you, people beside you, and people that look up to you.”
Business Link helped Andrew make connections along the way, as well as providing business support and guidance. “It was nice knowing that I wasn’t alone and there was an amazing group to help with solutions.” Business Link will be presenting at the 1st Gen Farmers Conference happening at Rosy Farms on Saturday, August 10, 2019.