Grown with Love
Farm, Family, Friends
In Lynden and the surrounding areas, they take their berries seriously, and they should. In the cool, marine climate of the Pacific Northwest, Washington produces approximately 90 percent of the nation’s frozen red raspberry crop. Most of that production happens in the northwest corner of the state. We caught up with Jeevan Brar and his family, who have been growing berries in the region since the 1980s. With his family and neighbors, Jeevan makes up part of the strong Punjabi culture of northwest Washington. Working with family and friends is the secret to growing the best berries in the nation.
“We are all from one area, and we know each other. We are better than family because we’re all friends, and we all help each other,” explained his father.
“Everyone gets along great,” said Jeevan.
When visiting the area, you can see the Indian culture, the Dutch culture, the Canadian culture, the American culture. “I mean, you can just see it walking down the streets here,” said Washington Grown co-host Val Thomas-Matson.
Along with strong relationships, Washington’s red raspberry growers use technology to bring the best berries to consumers. The new harvesting equipment makes the picking process safer and more efficient. Beaters shake the berries off the plants onto belts that carry the berries up to a platform where debris is removed. Technology like this harvester saves time. Most raspberry farmers also use technology like drip irrigation to save water.
High quality standards make Washington raspberries the best. This starts in the field with the sandy soils and good climate. This high quality continues at the processing plants. Most berries grown in this area are processed. By freezing raspberries within hours of being picked at the peak of ripeness, Washington raspberry producers preserve the fruit’s integrity, flavor and nutritional value, so you can enjoy this delicious and nutritious fruit year-round. Processors like Northwest Berry Co-op use new technology and high safety standards to keep frozen berry products readily available for consumers. They operate a state-of-the-art fruit processing facility located in the heart of Everson.
“The growers will bring the fruits from the field on their trucks, we weigh them in so that we can keep track of them, and we put a tag on every pallet so that we can trace that fruit back to the farm that it came from,” explained Rolf Haugen, the co-op’s manager. “Actually, in a lot of cases, we can trace it right back to the row. At that point in time, we’ll bring it over here, and we’ll unload it, we test it, and if it passes those tests, then it’ll go on the line to get processed.”
Once the berries hit the line, they are blown off to remove debris, and then they’re washed.
Northwest Berry Co-op is the largest cooperative of raspberry growers in North America.