Serviceberry trees on campus
Serviceberry trees, like these along the sidewalk of Scarborough Circle next to the daycare, produce a berry that's very sweet. (Photo by Kevin Vitorino)
Tuesday, July 9 - 2019
Kevin Vitorino

You might not have noticed, but anywhere you go on campus, you’re not far from a serviceberry tree.

Native to Canada, there are quite a few of them on campus, and throughout the city. On campus, most people will notice them on the path in front of the N’sheemaehn Child Care Centre. But there are many near the residences, as well parking lot E and F.

You can actually pick and eat the serviceberries right from the trees located on campus, although you should first run them through water. They’re kind of like blueberries, but sweeter.

Depending on the weather, the berries – also known as June berries or Saskatoon berries - usually show up in season from mid-June to early July and are ready to eat. “The birds are good indicator to know when serviceberries are ready because they are the first ones to go and pick them up,” says Béatrice Lego, the campus farm coordinator at U of T Scarborough.

Lego also says that trees are great for landscaping as their maintenance is not too demanding, and they are adapted to the Canadian climate.

The berries are great for making jams and preserves. Lego recommends using 2/3 of sugar compared to your amount of fruit, reduce the mixture for 2-3 hours at low heat until it reaches the desire consistency. Once you feel that the consistency is that of a jelly you can fill Mason jars and seal them to preserve for a few months.

The berries have also been used for a Women’s and Gender Studies course called Gender in the Kitchen during the 2018 Spring session. In one tutorial students were able to pick the serviceberries and use them to make their own preserve. Growing food and cultivating food on campus is “making UTSC a key actor for urban agriculture in Scarborough,” says Lego.