Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Thousand Berries

It was a rarity for our farm to have so many raspberries, mulberries and Nanking cherries.  We do have some of these most years, but nothing like we saw in 2018.  As it turned out, we might consider this part of Mother Nature's efforts to reward us for our efforts to have a diverse landscape on our 15 acre farm.  While there were hints of her plans for the rest of 2018, we could not have known how much this harvest would mean to us.

Late snows and soil conditions were making it difficult to get anything to grow early.  The peas just didn't want to get going.  Early season things in the high tunnels bolted because of a short hot spell, but the hot spell wasn't enough to help things in the field speed up.  We've had rough starts on the farm before, but we had asparagus, rhubarb and ... berries.

Our customers, for the most part, were pleased with this development.  After all, we do not advertise that we have berries.  These are not a cultivated crop on our farm and we are not set up to work with them commercially.  We are happy to have them growing on our farm and we will harvest some for ourselves most years.  In better years, we often offer to let others harvest what they want.  But, most years, we simply do not have the time to harvest berries in June.

It's all about time.  Harvesting enough berries to fill a pint container takes a significant amount of time (in gnat-infested brushy areas).  What happens if you have seventy CSA customers?  Well, you need to come up with seventy pints of berries.  The berries in each pint need to be of good quality.  After all, you don't want to hand a good customer a container full of mush - even it if might still be tasty.

Yet, we found the time to harvest in 2018.  That alone should have let people know how things were going on our farm.  The farmers and their workers, spent their time picking and packing berries.  Why?  Because they couldn't weed.  They couldn't plant.  And the things they did grow commercially were not growing.  But, Mother Nature saw that we wanted to support her efforts on our farm.  So, Mother Nature made sure that the cherries, the berries and the apples rewarded us for the diversity we sought.

We are, of course, grateful.  But, I think we would be fine if we were allowed to harvest berries because we want to in 2019.  Not because we have to!

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