Blueberries are the big story this week. Over the past day or two we pulled several hundred pounds from the plot we are leasing here at the farm. Learning as we go, there is nothing like jumping into something new to keep our observation skills sharp, examining every part of the process, and making a finished product we are proud of.
Blueberries are different from the annuals we grow in the fields (understatement of the season). This wild, native, perennial crop has been thriving on this farm for thousands of years and everything about it’s harvest and management is a learning experience. The berry plants grow in clusters throughout the field, each plant covering several hundred square feet and sending up thousands of fruiting stems. So one single plant is like a tree, with its trunk underground leaving only the tips of the branches for us to see above.
Our first day raking, we moved in lines, as this seems not only efficient, but what we are accustomed to in our production fields. Raking in lines brought us through dense patches of fruit into other areas with dense patches of weeds. During the cleaning process (it took a long time) we quickly learned there has to be a better way. Our second harvest was very different. Walking onto the barren we sought out the single plants (called clones) with the best density of berries and just raked there, filling buckets at twice the rate of our first experience with really beautiful fruit.
After raking we have a mixture of berries, leaves, stems and weeds in our buckets. This mixture goes into a machine that helps us clean all of this unwanted flotsam from the fruit. We are very lucky to have a neighbor with a machine we can rent. Three or four people spend several hours running rough berries in one end and filling finished quarts on the other. While the machine has blowers and tilted conveyors to help this process, everything still has to move by on a slow belt for us to pull out the unripe, smashed and stemmy fruit before it goes into quarts. Our harvest time to cleaning time ratio has been somewhere between 1 to 3 or 4, meaning we have been spending many hours squinting at berries as they go slowly by.
How to Order
We hope to rake this week and next, filling your orders placed be email, at pick-up, or online. Quarts are $8.50 and flats of 8 quarts are $64 (a quart is 1.7 lbs). Orders for pick up on Tuesdays will be taken until noon on Mondays and orders for pick up on Fridays will be taken until noon on Thursdays.
Greens Take a Break
We have limited greens this week as we have fallen between a few successions on lettuce and kale. Hopefully this will allow all of you to clean out the fridge and get ready for our next plantings.
What’s in the Share….
What’s in Upic….
Cherry Tomatoes -in the greenhouse tunnel beyond the beans…