Should I or Shouldn’t I? What Say You?

Service Berries 1

These are what we in Ontario call serviceberries.  You might know them in other parts of Canada as Saskatoon berries.  A member of the rose family, they grow on medium-sized shrubs or trees, and have a consistency not unlike a blueberry.  They’re a major ingredient in the Northern staple of pemmican.  And they’re delicious.

Service Berries 2

The housing developer in my neighbourhood seemed to like them as well, because you’ll find them planted in the front yard of every third or fourth house, and the various little parks throughout the development are scattered with them.  There are no less than six fully mature serviceberry trees in the main central park, and each one is absolutely loaded with nearly ripe berries.

Service Berries 3

My parents have a serviceberry tree, but every year the birds get to the fruit before my dad can pick it all.  For some reason that I don’t understand, the birds in my neighbourhood have not discovered these things yet, and they’re all getting nice and ripe (in fact, by the time this is posted they’ll be damned-near perfect).  I don’t think the people here have discovered them yet, either.  I think it has something to do with the fact that serviceberries are not sold commercially here and so may be hard to recognize as edible.

Service Berries 4

So the gist of it is this: there are all these lovely fruits dying to be put in pies and jams (and some nifty Northern recipes I have lying around), and nobody is taking them.  I would never pick the berries out of people’s yards, but the ones on City property I’m feeling more ambiguous about.  So I thought I’d ask you, in Ali Does It’s first ever poll: should I pick them or should I leave them be?


Due to the overwhelmingly “for it” responses I have received, I started bringing a little baggie with me on dog walks and picked some more while Gren rested under the trees.  This morning I discovered that the birds had finally figured out where all the good stuff was and there were only three trees left with any berries still attached (the rest will be gone by tomorrow, I guarantee it).  I went back out without the dog and now have a little over 3 1/2 lbs of berries in my freezer.  Stay tuned for serviceberry deliciousness to come!


Author: allythebell

A corgi. A small boy. A sense of adventure. Chaos ensues.

17 thoughts on “Should I or Shouldn’t I? What Say You?”

  1. not only should you go ahead and pick berries on public trees (unless there is a law against it), you could also use this opportunity to meet your neighbors – when you knock on their doors to ask if you can harvest their berries in exchange for a yummy tart or something. 🙂


  2. Definitely pick them. I almost chose the ninja option because I think that’d be hilarious to see. You’d have to chronicle the whole stealth mode operation too. 😉


  3. which just remind me i just ninja a serviceberry from my frd cherry tree yesterday. look good, bright crimson red, still so sour though… :< maybe i have better luck in the market.


  4. Hmmm, based on that last picture, I’d say *someone* has already made her decision! However, if it makes you feel better, I say go ahead and pick the public serviceberries, and I love the idea of you making friends with the neighbours with the exchange of their berries for your tarts. Wish you were my neighbour! 🙂


    1. I *may* have picked a few more today, too! Luckily I think I’ll have plenty even if I just stick with the public trees. This neighbourhood is full of new Canadians and the houses with trees where I’ve seen people out and about there is definitely a language barrier. Fortunately the rest of the neighbours seem to find the dog a good conversation starter so I’m set!


  5. Whilst visiting a friend ib southern Germany we went to a kids show at the public library. We found a fig tree/bush covered with fruit. She looked at me as though I was crazy when I said ‘oh I wish I could be here to pick this fruit when its ripe!’ In Germany you can’t. .. but the British/Indian/Swedish in me says hell yeah pick the fruit.


  6. You picked them, right? Too bad there *is* a law against bringing them here, because I’d like a taste! (No customs laws against baked goods though…)


  7. Glad to hear you went for it! For a few years during college I lived just outside Seattle and the city owned a historic building with an apple tree on the property that every year lost the apples to the ground and not a soul that I could tell picked them… At least until I started making late night apple picking climbs in that tree 🙂


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