The highlight of our weekend was visiting the farmstead of Mary’s Berries to stock up on enough blueberries to freeze until next summer. I ordered 10 lbs. of blueberries this summer from the local Kiwanis fundraiser, thinking that 10 lbs. would get us halfway through the winter of making our morning super-power smoothies. I don’t know what I was thinking because we are not even through the summer and I have drained my blueberry supply. Thankfully in central North Carolina we have an extended blueberry season and there are u-pick places within 20 minutes of our home.
I was connected to Mary’s Berries through our local farmer’s market and I can’t believe I have lived here for 6 years without paying Mary a visit! They are well-known for their well producing 10-12 feet tall heritage blueberry bushes. We drove up the gravel drive to meet Mary’s husband and father who introduced us to the u-pick process that is completely on the honor system. You can visit anytime during the week, Monday-Saturday sunup to sundown…although today was Sunday and they made an exception for us newbies. You grab a gallon milk jug in which the top has been cut off, string a rope through it and tie it around your waist in order that you have 2 hands to pick with. See blueberry pickin’ get-up below.
We walked back to the blueberry bush patch which Mary’s father planted for her mother over 30 years ago. Her mother asked for some blueberry bushes and goodness did her husband deliver. In his own words “Well I didn’t mean this to come of it!”, referring to the community of followers that Mary’s Berries has attracted throughout the generations and the hearty blueberry bushes that refused to die when cut down by a chainsaw. And there is a community of followers as we listened to Mary recount personal stories of some of her ‘pickers’ that have been visiting every blueberry season….stories of family loss, renewed life and hope and even a bit of comedy thrown in with the prissy ladies in high heels showing up only to exit the patch 5 minutes later because they were a little too ‘city’ for blueberry picking.
There is something peaceful and exhilarating about being on a farm, harvesting food grown by a family that cares about growing because it’s part of their heritage and how they foster community in their lives. In just an hours time we picked 14 pounds of blueberries, that we weighed on a scale and put our money in a box that was based on the honor system. These berries are 100% organic, no pesticides have ever been used and according to Mary the key to success in the beginning was gathering sawdust from the woods to use in the first planting.
As we were departing the farmstead I mentioned to the Carpenter that this was our weekend ‘microadventure’ only to see a sign at the end of the driveway that said ‘Mary’s Berries Agriventure’. I have heard the term agribusiness and agrimissions but never agriventure although it makes complete sense.
Agriventure = an agriculture-based adventure (my simplified definition)
So what agriventure can you partake in near you? I know I’ll be visiting Mary’s Berries later this week at sunup to experience the beauty of early morning picking that Mary raved about. Stay posted later this week for the health benefits of blueberries and all the wonderful recipes you can create with these powerful antioxidants.