Kiwis as big as grapes, sweet as candy, eaten with the skin on and growing in plants that can climb like vines. No, it’s not a prank; it exists for real, it grows at home, and we can even adopt it when we don’t have the space to plant it at home!

“The agricultural industry knows that this is one of the most beautiful emerging products in Quebec,” says Michel Larocque, co-owner of O’kiwi ça pous ici, a producer of arctic kiwi seedlings in the Joliette region. “There are no known predators yet in Quebec, no diseases either. That’s a big plus. »

Originally from Siberia, where they grow rustically, the first arctic kiwi plants were introduced in Quebec 40 years ago, but only the males were planted at the time, for their ornamental qualities. It was only about fifteen years ago that it was decided to also plant females in order to be able to harvest fruit. As the plants take about 12 years to reach their full yield, it is understandable why it is still very difficult to find them at retail.

“The orchard of Tilly, of Saint-Apollinaire, near Quebec, is the biggest producer, tells us Marie-Michèle Bellemare, partner of Michel Larocque. We’re going to start finding it in grocery stores soon, but I think we’re going to have to wait another five years before we have adequate retail volume. »

You can also choose to plant your own kiwi tree at home – O’kiwi that grows here is one of the producers who offer cultivars particularly adapted to our climate.

The Arguta variety, on the other hand, grows in the field and is adapted to being in full sun. It produces after only 4 to 7 years, but can generate up to 100 kg of fruit. “In commercial operations, they are planted in rows, mounted on a foot, like in a vineyard, but higher, they are held between 6 and 8 feet, explains Marie-Michèle Bellemare. Individuals can make a green wall of them or have them climb poles. The largest I saw in Montreal was two and a half stories. And it lives for 100 to 150 years! »

As these are the kind of plants whose roots do not resist frost well, it is not advisable to grow them in pots, so you cannot keep them at home if it is impossible to plant them in the ground. But be aware that it is possible to adopt your own plant at the Ferme du Mihouli, in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. “A lot of people were telling us, ‘I don’t have the time, I don’t have a green thumb,'” says Nadine Gelly, a communications professional who started her farm with her newly retired husband from banking. “We thought, why not suggest that they adopt a kiwi plant? People can therefore come here to maintain their plants, but also those of others. »

In return, the adoptive parents will be able to harvest the equivalent of a tenth of the production of a kiwi tree – we are talking about a minimum of 6 kg of fruit. During the first year of adoption, customers will also have a place at the Grande Tablée des harvests, an annual event that will be organized for the first time in the fall by the Ferme du Mihouli. “It will be a welcoming place for local producers and for restaurateurs, because we will have a catering infrastructure to welcome chefs, there will be some very well-known ones,” said Ms. Gelly, adding that all profits will be donated to the Tablée des chefs, which fights against food insecurity. “The event will be open to the public, but priority goes to people who have adopted their kiwi plant; it is in fact on this occasion that they will choose their plant. »

For Ms. Gelly, this project represents the best of both worlds, straddling her new rural life and her passion for tourism and culture. “We visited a lot of other producers around the world, we saw their huge warehouses and we said to ourselves that this was not what we wanted to do, she recalls. What we wanted was to create a community around this project. »

And, of course, getting local kiwis known!