Share

Kiwi Korners - 2014

MONTOUR COUNTY - Understanding Hardy Kiwi Production in PA
Hardy kiwi plants at Kiwi Korners

Hardy kiwi plants at Kiwi Korners

Kiwi Korners Farm is one of three hardy kiwi (actinidia arguta aka: kiwi berries) commercial growers in the US, and the only certified organic producer and packer.  The 40 acre farm, located outside of Danville in Northumberland County, is where Holly Laubach and Dave Jackson have been growing hardy kiwi for the past 26 years. 

 They started with two acres in a former no-till corn field, and tested over 50 varieties of hardy kiwi with four goals in mind  “A) Identify the best varieties, B) Implement a breeding program, C) Develop the best management systems for chosen varieties,  and  D) Create a market for their fruit they named Kiwi Berries.” 

 Through much experimentation, Dave and Holly found only four varieties to be viable for production and marketing.  They have since narrowed down their varieties to two, the Aloha Anna and the Passion Popper which was developed by Dave.

 Through their research into different trellising techniques they have developed a custom T-bar trellis system that allows sunlight and airflow to the fruit which creates good sugar content and combined with their pre and post harvest handling techniques, they have created “the highest Brix (sugar level) reading of any actinidia genus documented internationally.  Testing was conducted by the Penn State University Department of Horticulture Foolad Lab, University Park, PA<http://www.kiwiberry.com/psu%20brix.htm> in 2009.”

 They received a NE SARE Grant to study hardy kiwi pollination and production. Pollination occurs through airflow so they have developed a male/female planting design for optimal pollination.

 After losing too much of their crop to spring frosts, they installed a wind machine that protects a good portion of the farm now 20 acres divided into 8 arbors that offer 3 separate micro-climates.

 And today, their small flock of heritage breed turkeys helps with weed and insect control, or just company while working in the fields!

 Hardy kiwis are considered a super fruit.  They are packed with 20 vital nutrients and anti-oxidants. Check out the list of nutrients at http://www.kiwiberry.com/nutrition.htm.

 The berries are hand-picked in early to mid-September and packaged at the farm for the fresh fruit market. Residual berries are sold to other producers who make wine and beer from the fruit. Their fruit is sold by brokers in the Northeast mid-Atlantic area under their Kiwi Berry Organics Co. brand name, and also shipped to locations in the Continental US by their on-farm Kiwi Berry Direct to Consumer Shipping Program.

 Both Dave and Holly are obsessed with quality and work passionately to research, breed and develop the best kiwi berrie around while raising plants for production. They have studied hardy kiwi in Vancouver, British Columbia, New Zealand, and Belgium and are enthusiastic about passing on their knowledge.

 They have conducted workshops for, and have supplied test trial vine material to universities such as Penn State and Cornell, Auburn and Alabama A&M.

Dave & Holly currently sponsor six incubator farms in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey who are evaluating varieties from Kiwi Korners.

 They also continue to work with organizations such as FarmAid, GrowNYC, the School Nutrition Association of PA, and PA-WAgN to educate the public about sustainable and organic agriculture and the value and health of pesticide-free food.

 Visit them at their website http://www.kiwiberry.com/kiwi%20korners.htm.