THE HISTORY OF CANADIAN SEABUCKTHORN
Seabuckthorn is an ancient food that has made its way to the new world by way of Morden, Manitoba. The plant is a thorny shrub that can survive the harshest weather conditions. As it turns out, the Canadian prairies are an ideal habitat for sea buckthorn. Solberry has managed to pluck this gift of nature from its thorny embrace and deliver it to you.
The journey from the old world to the new started with Dr. L. Skinner at the Morden Research Station, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Morden, Manitoba. Dr. Skinner imported sea buckthorn from Siberia as a garden ornamental in the 1930’s. Dr. Skinner’s goal was to convince new prairie dwellers that the Canadian prairie was good for more than grasses. He looked for plants that could survive the harsh prairie environment while at the same time adding an aesthetic value to the prairie habitat.
It was also determined that seabuckthorn could be used to rehabilitate marginal lands. Seabuckthorn has an extensive rooting system and a nitrogen fixation property. Seabuckthorn has been planted to rejuvenate marginal land and soil conservation.
Government researchers identified the amazing capacity of this beautiful thorny shrub and re-introduced sea buckthorn as a shelter belt plant in the 1960’s through the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Association (PFRA). The PFRA managed to plant over 600 million trees in its 100 + year history. This practice continues to this day.*
*Unfortunately the Harper Conservative government ended funding for the PFRA. The practice of distributing shelter belt plants (for a nominal cost) still continues through an association of interested individuals.
In the 1990’s, an attempt was made to establish a Canadian seabuckthorn industry on the Prairies. Seedlings were sold, orchards planted and promises made. Good fortune was not to favour the burgeoning industry. Some bad luck – some miscalculations and some world events joined together to halt any forward momentum (another story altogether). Growers established orchards but .. even though the world had recognized the value of sea buckthorn – Prairie growers did not have a market. Without a market they let their orchard overgrow, die or remove them to plant hay.
Nonetheless – a great number of growers, big and small stopped maintaining their orchards and got on with their lives. A few (I have to guess “quite a few”) picked the berries for themselves; made jams and juices. An even smaller minority kept working hard to make a go of the seabuckthorn industry. That minority kept harvesting, kept looking for a market because they believed in the value of the berry. Lucky for us – we managed to meet up with a number of them!
In the recent past Solberry was fortunate to meet a few of these “believers”, managing to forge a close working relationship to help move the Prairie industry forward. In an astonishingly short period of time Solberry has managed to bring a nutritional food that is not only Manitoba grown, but made in Manitoba as well.
A chance meeting at the Green Lifestyle Show in the Fall of 2010 led to the seed of Solberry being planted in Manitoba. Tressa, a health style enthusiast mentioned that sea buckthorn grew in Manitoba. She had heard about it in a Winnipeg Free Press article. Solberry sought out the grower and evaluated the possibilities of using this wonderful resource. Mila, the President of Solberry, had known about the amazing qualities of sea buckthorn as she was born and raised in the Soviet Union. “Every dacha had seabuckthorn (oblipicha) growing in its garden, every fridge had seabuckthorn oil in it to deal with cuts, bruises and burns,” recalls Mila.
A friend told Mila about the Food Development Centre and how there might be Seabuckthorn berries on the prairies able to help with bringing Manitoba grown seabuckthorn to the market. After months of discussions, negotiations and a few calculations – a decision was made to move forward with research and development on the viability of a Manitoba grown sea buckthorn product. It was then, that Solberry decided to put the berry in the bottle. The unique nature of the fruit allowed us to attempt this. Seabuckthorn’s high levels of tocopherols act as a powerful natural preservative, with the added bonus that they are good for you!
A tablespoon a day is all you need to provide an incredible diverse natural wealth of Vitamins, Minerals, Omega Fatty acids and healing plant sterols.
There are NO added sugars, water, colour, flavours or preservatives. The seed is gone – the rest remains – all the wonderful, natural, healthy components are in the bottle.