Fresh Facts 38: Blackberries, Blackberries

Whenever I meet one of you members, I’m always humbled by your thoughtful insight. Without being gratuitous, you’re just a really sharp bunch. The demographic profile shows you to be well educated, health conscious, and family oriented.

This was borne out again as we did the farm tours and got to spend a half day with a couple dozen Abundant Harvesters packing your box, and then experiencing a little bit of everything we do around here; from putting together the pantry items, the kitchen, out to Alma’s herb farm, our farming, and finally the baby chicks. It was just a wonderful time.

We also had a wide age range so that made it really special, at least for me. We talk a lot about “who’s your farmer” and getting to know the men and women who produce your food, but it’s equally important for farmers to know who is being fueled from their farm and what their concerns are; whether that’s avoiding toxins, seeing how the workers on their farm are treated, or how the animals are cared for, it’s all part of the ongoing dialogue and transparency.

Any chicken farmer will tell you that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Getting people to the farm so we farmers know what’s important to you, as well as letting you have free range to every corner of the operation is vital.

Compare that to the common practice of greenwashing that happens down every aisle at the supermarket; sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Okay, so 18 months ago, a friend gave me some blackberry plants…’Hey Vern, would you like some free blackberry plants?’ I believe was how the offer went. Did you ever hear the story of stone soup?

Those free blackberry plants were the agricultural equivalent of the stone in the soup. First we had to remove the apricots that were there, then we reworked the irrigation system, then marked and planted and fertilized and weeded, and by the way, we’re not really set-up for blackberries, nor do we know the first thing about growing blackberries.

Well, actually, here’s what I do know. When I was growing-up, we had maybe a 30-foot row of boysenberries in the family orchard. I hated everything about those cussed plants. They have these teeny little invisible thorns that you can’t see to get out of your fingers, they’re just in there poking like the dickens. We had to prune ‘em, haul-off the canes, tie ‘em up, and when they got ripe, pick and pick and pick to get a little bowl of berries. Each of these cultural practices involved getting teeny thorns in your fingers.

Let’s just say the cost benefit analysis wasn’t too positive from my perspective. Now I was raised in an era where good parents whooped their kids anytime their performance was deemed lacking and I want you to assure you that we had excellent parents. That little row of boysenberries was often the cause of the board of education being applied to the seat of learning.

The good news is, we now have blackberries for you. You don’t have to prune, haul canes, tie or pick ‘em. Just scoop up some vanilla ice cream, pour a few on top, and enjoy.

Eat better!

Author Uncle Vern

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