Last winter we had a company come and clear two areas on the farm that were overgrown in invasive trees and brambles. One was a half-acre or so area that had been my grandparents garden/orchard many years ago. Years of neglect due to illness, allowed the area to become overgrown and begin to re-forest itself. Pine trees, brambles and poison ivy grew so thick we could barely walk into the former field. And despite searching for the fruit trees, we only turned up one very sick apple tree. So we had the area cleared of all the trees, mulched down to the ground. I planted it this spring with grasses and legumes and have been mowing to reduce the tree regrowth. I’d love to see it become a fruitful area once again, as I remember it from my childhood.
With the pine growth, we know that the soil is fairly acidic, and soil tests have confirmed as much, which means either heavy amending with lime or planting something more suitable for its pH. Enter blueberries! These acidic soil loving shrubs would thrive. In fact, our forest floor is already covered in low bush, wild blueberries.
But we need some help to make a blueberry orchard happen. So, we’re planning an old-fashioned barn raising. Or, in this case, an orchard raising!
We need two things, okay 3. First, hands and strong backs to help us plant the orchard. We’ll be putting in around 600 plants! Second, funds to purchase the blueberry plants and install deer fencing. And third, folks to help us celebrate.
The orchard raising will be October 20th from 2:00 till dark. We’ll plant as many as we can and work on putting up the fence. Just bring yourself and gloves. We’ll have plenty of tools on hand. And then, stay and help us celebrate. We’ll have a potluck dinner and probably throw some pork on the grill. Plus a fire to celebrate and relax around into the evening. Come to help work, come just to eat, or come for both. Check out our Facebook event page here.
And whether you can make it that day or not, consider helping us with the cost of establishing the orchard by buying a Blueberry Share. Details are here: blueberry share agreement, but here’s the gist. At the local markets around here you can buy pints of blueberries for $4-5. We are offering blueberry shares for $3 each. Shares can be exchanged once the orchard begins producing and each $3 share will earn you one pint of blueberries, plus exclusive early access to blueberries before we sell to the general public. You can purchase as many shares as you like. Obviously, this is a long-term investment in our farm as the plants will take at least a couple of years before they begin producing in any significant quantity and we may limit the number of shares that can be redeemed in the first year.
Our hope is to have a pick your own orchard in the years to come, where folks can come and gather for an afternoon in the summer to pick some berries, enjoy a walk through the woods, perhaps have a picnic with the family, and just enjoy the beauty and bounty of our farm. You can help us bring that dream to reality.