Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blueberry Farm

           “Hi. We’re picking rows ten to fifteen. You can move around; eat all you want. Just let me know when you’re done.” That’s my usual greeting from beneath my black sun hat.

            This is the third year my family has run a blueberry farm a few miles west of our home. I am responsible for the farm operation, while my sisters, the “Blueberry Girls,” vend the berries at the Farmers’ Market in downtown Midland on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. In the morning and evening, Monday through Saturday, I serve you-pick customers, oversee pickers harvesting berries for us, and pick quarts of berries myself.

            The blueberry bushes were planted over twenty-five years ago, by a man who envisioned “The Berry Patch,” a fruit farm with forty acres of blueberries and five acres of raspberries. His vision failed to become reality, but he did plant five acres of blueberries and two long rows of grapes. The berry bushes are nearly as tall as a man and grow in long rows across the field. As the sun ripens the berries, they turn from white to green to red to blue.

In May 2005, a man in a pick-up truck stopped by our house to see if our family would be interested in harvesting blueberries. Dan Nagel, the current owner of the farm, was the son-in-law of the man who planted the bushes. Mr. Nagel tended the bushes, fertilizing and trimming them, but didn’t have the time to pick them or open the farm for you-pickers. Our family agreed to try the blueberry business, and it has been a blessing to us.

The season lasts through July and to the end of August. This year the berries were a week and a half late, and we expect to have berries into September. Of our two varieties of berries, I prefer the earlier berries because they are full of flavor, but many of our customers enjoy picking the later, larger berries.

Throughout the week, one or two of my siblings accompany me to the blueberry farm where we pick berries, sort out stems, leaves and bad berries, and package the berries in quart containers. On market mornings Julie and Brian or Betsy and Libby load the back of the pick-up truck with carriers full of quarts of blueberries, a blue tarp, a table, and the cashbox. At the market, Bob the market-master assigns them a stall. Most days they sell all the berries—usually over a hundred quarts. Meanwhile at the farm, I welcome customers and continue picking berries to fill more quarts. 

No comments:

Post a Comment