ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Honeyberry season returns to northeast Minnesota

Farm LoLa welcomed the public back to its property to pick the fruit that tastes like “a blueberry that’s fallen into a pack of SweeTARTS,” according to owner Jason Amundsen.

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_1.jpg
Miriam Mutsch, 1, of Superior helps her mom pick honeyberries Monday, June 28, 2021, at Farm LoLa in Wrenshall. (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)
We are part of The Trust Project.

WRENSHALL, Minn. — Brooke Konieska, 10, wanted to go berry picking Monday, June 28.

Brooke and her sister, Brianna, 15, were visiting their grandmother, Deb Konieska, at her Sturgeon Lake home. Instead of going to a strawberry farm or to a farm with more traditional fruits, Deb took her granddaughters to Wrenshall’s Farm LoLa to pick honeyberries.

“I like picking honeyberries,” Brooke said. “I like how big and juicy they are.”

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_2.jpg
Jason Amundsen (kneeling), hands a cardboard tray to Brooke Konieska, (standing, center), after he demonstrated how to pick honeyberries Monday, June 28, 2021. Brooke's grandmother, Deb Konieska, (standing, right), brought Brooke and her sister, Brianna, to Farm LoLa to pick honeyberries while the girls were visiting from Shakopee, Minnesota. (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)

ADVERTISEMENT

Farm LoLa’s owner, Jason Amundsen, provided the group with a short lesson on picking honeyberries and gave them a couple of cardboard trays to put their fruit in.

“Remember, pick all the berries off the bush you start on before you move to the next one,” Amundsen said.

Honeyberries are a shrub native to Siberia, Poland and northern Japan that Amundsen has tried to add to the roster of berries available at Farm LoLa in the last few seasons.

Farm LoLa started as the “pick-your-own berry wing” of Locally Laid Egg Co., according to its website. Locally Laid sells eggs from pasture-raised chickens to local restaurants and supermarkets.

Despite the sweet name, honeyberries provide a flavor that is a little more sour than sweet.

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_5.jpg
Theo Carlson, 3, of Wrenshall, smiles while picking honeyberries with his mom, Mary Carlson on Monday, June 28, 2021 at Farm LoLa in Wrenshall. (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)

“The taste is like if you had a blueberry that’s fallen into a pack of SweeTARTS,” Amundsen said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Farm LoLa sells the berries to members of the public who come by to pick, but also provides them to local supermarkets. Honeyberries have also been used for an ice cream flavor at Love Creamery in Duluth and as the base for beers at several area breweries. Bent Paddle is buying the berries this year and the brewers plan to enter their brew in a competition later this year.

“I’m going out of my way to make sure they get a lot of different varieties, because I’m competitive and I want them to win,” Amundsen said.

Most of the people at Farm LoLa last week were families looking for an activity that left them with some tasty treats to take home. Kids were running up and down the rows and enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_9.jpg
Elias Johnson, 3, of Blackhoof Township, shows of some of the honeyberries he picked Monday, June 28, 2021, at Farm LoLa in Wrenshall. (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)

Elias Johnson, 3, came to help his mom, Mackenzie, pick, and he already had plans for their haul of fruit.

“We’re going to make jam, and then we’re going to make peanut butter and jam sandwiches,” Elias said.

ADVERTISEMENT

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_6.jpg
Alice Chartier, 4, of Duluth, came to Farm LoLa Monday, June 28, 2021, to pick honeyberries, but ended up finding a more fun activity. She said, "I like to squish them and rub the insides on my face." (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)

The ‘post-pandemic way to date’

While most of the people at Farm LoLa were families with children, some came for a special date night.

Mark and Marissa Kallevig, of Duluth, came out a couple of years ago and make the trip to Farm LoLa an annual tradition. They both get off work around 4:30 p.m., which means they can have a fun night out and still be home pretty early. Plus, the fun doesn’t end when they leave the farm.

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_10.jpg
Mark and Marissa Kallevig, of Duluth, spent their date night picking honeyberries Monday, June 28, 2021, at Farm LoLa in Wrenshall. (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)

“We look forward to it all year,” Marissa said. “We were just talking — we’re planning to make a pie together with the honeyberries and maybe some jam — so there are more activities than just picking.”

Lucie Amundsen, Jason’s wife, said it’s not just married couples or those in long-term relationships who visit Farm LoLa on date nights.

“I had more than one couple come up to the booth to check in who said they were here on a date,” she said. “They thought it would be a great way to get to know each other picking berries ... Honestly, it really takes the stakes down ... I think the post-pandemic way to date could be to come berry picking.”

She’d like some folks to come out and weed the rows of berry plants as a date, too, but has yet to find any takers.

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_3.jpg
Elle Long, left, and her brother, Sawyer Long pick honeyberries Monday, June 28, 2021, at Farm LoLa in Wrenshall. (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)

070121.N.PJ.HoneyberryPicking_3.jpg
Elle Long, left, and her brother, Sawyer Long pick honeyberries Monday, June 28, 2021, at Farm LoLa in Wrenshall. (Jamey Malcomb / jmalcomb@pinejournal.com)

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREWRENSHALL
Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
What to read next
Business has been flourishing in the three months since the business moved into the former Toys R Us, but more hands are needed on staff for the store be open more than two days a week.
Columnist Dave Conrad says conflict can, if you work at it, lead to a new way of thinking.
Columnist Dean Swanson says finding the right — and the right amount of — insurance is a vital task.
Dr. Scott Zietlow, who has worked at Mayo Clinic since the early 1990s, will take on the titles of president and CEO of the La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip at the start of 2023. He is replacing his father, Don Zietlow, who is retiring.