Gooseberries in Your Market Garden

Start your own small-scale berry market with the flavorful and sought-after gooseberry.

| October/November 2018

  • gooseberries
    Give berry lovers an excuse to try something new and expand their horizons by introducing gooseberries to local markets.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/ArtCookStudio
  • gooseberry-jam
    Fruit intended for jam should be harvested before full ripeness, when the gooseberries contain the most pectin.
    Photo by Getty Images/fazeful
  • currantworm
    Imported currantworms, the larvae of the currant sawfly, are one of the most prominent gooseberry pests.
    Photo by Getty Images/tnoronen
  • gooseberry-cultivar
    Be sure to keep your customer base in mind when selecting cultivars for your property.
    Photo by Getty Images/Nina Olishevko
  • bird
    Birds can be troublesome adversaries for gooseberry growers.
    Photo by Getty Images/hardeko

  • gooseberries
  • gooseberry-jam
  • currantworm
  • gooseberry-cultivar
  • bird

Last year, I received a call from a Russian immigrant couple who lived about 40 minutes from my New Jersey farm. The woman anxiously asked whether I still had gooseberries. I explained the season was over and offered to add her and her husband to a notification list for the following year. After a few rounds of “Are you sure you don’t have any berries left?” I invited them to come by and glean any remaining berries free of charge. They were at my doorstep within the hour.

The visibly pregnant woman and her husband descended on the plants and ate their way through most of the remaining berries. They even managed to set aside a few to take home. As she was picking and eating, the woman exclaimed that she hadn’t appreciated gooseberries when she was growing up, and her husband had been searching in vain for the fruit in the United States. The enormous smile on her face as they drove away is something that has stayed with me.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all my gooseberry customers are as passionate about the fruit as this young woman, but I have encountered quite a bit of enthusiasm. Unlike some berries I grow, such as aronia and elderberry, whose sales are driven by their healthful attributes, gooseberry sales seem to be fueled by their flavor and nostalgia. My customers might remember picking berries with Grandpa and Grandma in the “old country,” or perhaps Mom made a killer gooseberry jam. Whatever the memory, these folks are invariably delighted to discover my gooseberries because they usually can’t find them anywhere else.

Gooseberries come in a surprising degree of diversity in berry size, color, and tartness. The shrubs also exhibit variations in vigor, disease resistance, thorniness, and growth pattern. If you’re interested in trying gooseberries for your market garden, you should also trial various cultivars to discover what works best for you.



Know Your Market

I’m located in a fairly good gooseberry seller’s market, about an hour from both Philadelphia and New York City. A number of affluent towns and suburbs with culturally diverse populations are located nearby. It’s an optimal situation for a gooseberry business, ensuring a wide range of potential customers. Your situation may not be as perfect for gooseberries, though. Here are a few things you should consider before you plant hundreds of gooseberry shrubs on your own property.

Area demographics: In my neck of the woods, the people most familiar with gooseberries are Northern and Central European, primarily of British or Russian descent. I sell to many of these folks directly, but I also reach them through a local health food store that stocks my berries. Other viable options are occupying a stall at a farmers market or becoming a providing farmer for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.

Pat
9/14/2018 5:25:58 PM

I keep trying to post a question here but it never appears. What am I doing wrong?







Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds newsletter