A while back, a good friend of mine Liesa Billings of Rustic Buds asked if I would write about what it was like growing up on a blueberry farm. Liesa writes about restaurants, farming, and sustainable food resources in and around the Greater Vancouver Area and was naturally curious.
Taking that trip down memory lane and what I'd discovered was as much a surprise to me as it was to Liesa. I won't spoil the read, but suffice to say I need to go back to those days more often and appreciate that I was - and still am - blessed.
TOO MUCH of a good thing?!
It may seem hard to understand that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Growing up on a blueberry farm had its perks and "not-so-perky" side! I am sure that I look at blueberries in a completely different way than most. For example, as an adult, I have never had the desire to purchase blueberries, or to eat them. I guess you could say I got my fill as a child - enough to last me a lifetime. As a little girl I really couldn't appreciate the quality of blueberries that my Father grew... they were fresh, sweet, big and juicy. I thought this was how *all* blueberries were. NOT so.
Good luck trying to find anything like that at Safeway. Customers would come back year after year - loyal and hooked on Bos' (BIG) Blueberries. We shipped our berries all across Canada for family, friends and friends of family. So, what was it like growing up on a blueberry farm? Let me first share the not-so-perky bits, and end with the best part of all.
NOT-SO-PERKY Blueberry everything!
Homemade blueberry jam, blueberry pie, blueberry smoothies, blueberry honey and blueberry wine --- eventually the novelty of blueberries wore off. Starlings! These birds would come in flocks the size of large clouds and destroy the berries. My 2 sisters and I would have to go out into the fields at dusk, banging on pots and pans trying and scare them away. Beehives. We brought them in to pollinate the blueberry flowers in the spring. Being a kid, I always ran around outside in bare feet. I can't count the number of times I got stung on my foot. Long busy hot days during berry picking season. I had to pick berries, and when I wasn't picking them I was cleaning them, and when I wasn't cleaning them I was going with my Dad to the Blueberry Co-op or taking care of customers, or out in the field banging on pots and pans.
PERKS Blueberry everything!
Homemade blueberry jam, blueberry pie, blueberry smoothies, blueberry honey and blueberry wine - Mom was and still is a whiz in the kitchen - I loved blueberries as a kid. Scatter picking. Selectively picking a handful of the biggest sweetest blueberries right off the bush and shoving them all into my mouth at one time - and doing so to my heart's content. Blue Teeth. After pigging out on berries it was always funny to see how blue our teeth got. The Seasons. Watching the seasons having their effects on the leaves. Fall left us with an endless view of leaves the color of the sunset - hues of red, yellow and orange. Winter, they were clothed with a beautiful robe of white. Yeah we used to get LOTS of snow back in the late '60s and '70s.
THE BIGGEST PERK of all...
My Dad the Farmer. Watching my Dad out in the field (rain or shine) whether it be for pruning, fertilizing, spraying, or keeping the trails cut and weeds under control. I find the memories of watching my father work in the fields one of the best memories of all. He taught me that hard work won't kill you, that patience is a virtue and that for the most part, if we are blessed... we reap what we sow.
Posted in Jen Unplugged