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start to harvest until about July 22, while over the last two years we have been started by the beginning of July.” Duke, Blue Crop, Reka, Blue Jays and

Hardy Blues are the varieties of blueberries grown on the Chong farms. They are shipped to Silver Valley Farms based in Maple Ridge. Chong has a high regard for Mark

Sweeney, the former provincial berry specialist who now works as an adviser with Silver Valley. “We are very fortunate to still have him

around. He is very knowledgeable and is very helpful. I don’t know what we would do without him.” Howe Chong Inc. employs eight

Mexican farm workers each year with the majority being returnees. “They are hard-working individuals

and make a great team.” In addition the Chong farm also

employs students, some family members and a couple of retirees who come and help out. And then sometimes, if need be, they hire contractors and crews to assist. Chong is delighted to have a student

who is very interested in horticulture and is planning on going to university, coming to work on the farm. “She seems interested in greenhouse

production, but she will learn a lot from our operation over the summer.” Chong and her husband have two

children, aged 18 and 16. “Farming is a lifestyle,” says Chong.

“You either like it or you don’t. Personally, I love it. However, she points out that “in my

previous life I had a science degree and had become a chartered accountant, so now I have come full circle and am back on the farm using those skills I learned previously.” As she settles into her new position,

Chong says she thinks the major challenge for the industry will be to continue to supply the high-quality berries we have been growing and ensure we keep our standards up. “We must be able to supply a sweet

tasting berry and have markets for them. The blueberry council supports more than 800 growers, and Chong says work continues to form a national council and implement a checkoff to help support the industry with promotions and research. “It is a priority for us. It’s all about

educating growers across Canada on the importance and benefits of a national council. We’re a big industry and it takes a lot of time and effort to ensure it supports the growers and operates in their best interests,” remarked Chong.


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