"Wild blueberry farmers for three generations"
Since 1971 my family has grown wild blueberries in Northern Nova Scotia. My grandfather lost his sawmill in a fire that year, and rather than risk losing his hardworking crew, he kept them busy by sending them out to clear the first fields.
In those days the equipment was basic, and he is family-famous for saying that if the blueberry business didn't work out, he'd just stow his axe and scythe and find something else to do.
For as many years as I can remember, the month of August has been dedicated to the wild blueberry harvest: to blue teeth and crickets chirping and plastic pop bottles filled with water and frozen overnight. Sometimes we would be fortunate enough to see a bear in the field, bellying up to the buffet, or a snake sunning itself by the old stone rows running along the perimeter of the fields.
Like many growers, we made the transition from having a crew of rakers combing the berries off the vines to adding machinery to ensure we could get the crop off before the frost that would come with the 'harvest moon'.
Having used both the smaller boxes above (weighing about 22lbs when they're full) and the totes shown with my brother, Alexander, which weigh in excess of 300lbs, we have switched back to the smaller boxes and are happier with the results, using a combination of a tractor and a 'walk-behind harvester' that resembles a self-propelled snowblower with a hairbrush on the front end of it.
Over the past 45 years my father has grown the operation to have more then 200 acres in production, though wild blueberries are picked every second year, so we alternate where we pick, with one year being the 'town year' with fields in the communities of Earltown, Corktown and Kemptown while the other is known as the 'Swallow Road year' with fields named after their previous owners, like "Alec Bonnyman" or "Waas Betts".
While we have always followed a minimalist approach in terms of inputs, I am focused on producing the best 'spray-free wild blueberry' possible. These fabulous spray-free wild blueberries are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or fungicides and it shows.
Rather than being a monoculture, our fields are peppered with weeds and grasses that provide our pollinators with the variety they need to get through their busy season - none of us would want to eat the same meal everyday, three times a day, for several weeks, no matter how good it tasted.
Now we're looking forward to new opportunities to create new products from the crops we've grown for so many years, and hope that you will enjoy them.