By Forrest Scharf, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Fruit Crops
The inaugural annual general meeting (AGM) of Haskap Saskatchewan took place April 6, 2019, at the Varsity Common-Sobeys location community resource room in Saskatoon. Haskap Saskatchewan was established in part as a response to the restructuring of Haskap Canada that occurred in the prior year. Haskap Canada had formerly elected a Board of Directors derived largely from volunteer growers based in Saskatchewan which is where the crop was originally bred. The industry grew in other provinces as knowledge of the desirability of Haskap spread to those areas. In response to local industry growth, the other provinces, especially British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia, began organizing their own provincial Haskap associations. The provincial associations were able to carry forward specific industry development initiatives for their markets, but they still desired to be part of a national body.
Saskatchewan did not have a provincial association, so local initiatives were not the focus of the actual representative body, Haskap Canada. In order to maintain a well-supported national body, the members of Haskap Canada decided to compose their Board of Directors from representatives of the provincial associations with one vote and one representative, per province. Haskap Canada’s 2019 Board includes: Joe Piotti, president, from Nova Scotia; Sam Kreuger, vice president, from Alberta; Samuel Cote, treasurer, from Quebec and Graham Gamble, secretary, from Ontario. Yukon is under British Columbia’s membership and Manitoba is working with Saskatchewan.
Prior to the restructuring, Saskatchewan hadn’t developed a provincial association. In 2018, industry members drafted a constitution, appointed a treasurer and developed bylaws to kick-start the new organization.
The inaugural meeting of Haskap Saskatchewan further initiated dialogue about what the purpose of the association will be and what types of strategic initiatives will best serve industry development. The general consensus at the AGM was that Haskap Saskatchewan should focus efforts on promotion with the development of an online presence for Haskap Saskatchewan. The members would also like to develop tools to help new growers including a financial planning spreadsheet to help growers invest more efficiently in their operations. The organization was also made aware of Saskatchewan’s Product2Market funding program that may provide assistance for its promotional activities.
The Haskap Saskatchewan 2019 Board includes: Kanden Yungwirth, president; Ryan Husband, secretary; Karl Schreiber, Haskap Canada representative; Vicki Cockrum and Raeanne Renouf, auditors; Carl Barber, director of production and Hamish Graham, director at large. Corey Usher had already been appointed as the treasurer of the association, prior to the AGM, and will hold that position until the next AGM.
New haskap growers interested in participating in Haskap Saskatchewan can contact Forrest Scharf, provincial fruit specialist.