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A Brief History of Canadian Seabuckthorn

Canadian Seabuckthorn - the beginning

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 Prairies are an ideal habitat for sea buckthorn.

This remarkable berry has traveled through time and space to find itself on the Manitoba Prairies. 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.

The Middle

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.

Canadian Seabuckthorn in the 1990’s

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!

Canadian Seabuckthorn in the 21st Century

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 Manitoba Grown Manitoba Made nutritional food to Manitobans.

A chance meeting at the Green Lifestyle Show in the Fall of 2010 led to the seed of Solberry being planted in Manitoba. A health style enthusiast (Hi Tressa!) mentioned that sea buckthorn grew in Manitoba. She had heard about it in a Winnipeg Free Press article. The president and CEO of Solberry (at that time she was just known as Mila) sought out the grower and evaluated the possibilities of using this wonderful resource. Mila 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.

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. "Almost 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!).

There are NO added sugars, water, colour, flavours (look for more on the story of the taste and flavour of Canadian seabuckthorn) or preservatives. The seed is gone - the rest remains - all the wonderful, natural, healthy components are in the bottle.

So what do you get in a bottle of Solberry Seabuckthorn Puree? You get a naturally grown, non-chemically treated functional food all packaged in a convenient delivery system. Solberry supports our local farmers (our average Canadian orchard size is under 6 acres) and they in turn supply the highest quality seabuckthorn berries in the world. Solberry takes those berries and produces one of the world's unique sea buckthorn products. Ingredients matter - we have only one - the pulp of the seabuckthorn berry.

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 miracles - think about the foods that you eat. Incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables. Consider Solberry Seabuckthorn Puree as part of your diet.