Lessons from My Blueberry Patch

Today

A more personal post

About the farm

And my blueberry season

This year.

The heat index may be inching towards 100 degrees, but the signs of fall are already here. My ornamental cherry tree has leaves that turned yellow which are beginning to float to the ground. The tobacco farmers around me are in harvest mode. They are always revving up as I am slowing down.

My blueberry season is officially over usually by mid-August. What’s left on the bushes is for the local fauna; the bees, birds, deer and any other critters who roam through the blueberry patch. I still go out to pick some berries for freezing, but the pressure is off. I’ve done my best.

Being a blueberry farmer has taught me so much. Humility, gratitude, generosity and acceptance of what happens. I have been reminded so many, many times that I am not the one in control. A way of thinking that puts so much burden on my shoulders, since I think it’s all up to me. So, learning this lesson, though humbling, is also freeing. Knowing that there is only so much that I can do.

Every day I walk around this land and give gratitude for all that I have. For being able to live here and steward this piece of land that I love. I thank all the earth spirits for teaching me how to live in harmony with the Mother. And over the years, I have noticed more and more the gifts I have received through a synchronistic relationship with Her.

Though I haven’t yet mastered easily moving through life this way. I still worry in spring if the number of berries, pickers and buyers will all overlap in perfect harmony. Despite my worries, it always does. What a stubborn creature of habit I am, with my spring worrying. You can set your calendar to the time when that nagging feeling begins to show up in my mind. Perhaps next year will be the year I cease this futile exercise in emotional self-doubt. I always hope for that.

But like many businesses, COVID has had its effect on me these past two seasons. With many of my buyers closed down, my orders were cut in half.

But here’s how the synchronicity works. The first summer of COVID, one variety of blueberries that I have, about 30% of my crop, didn’t produce any berries. I was in awe of them choosing that year not to produce. The vendor I bought those bushes from warned me that on occasion one of the two varieties I have may not produce one year. And so, I had fewer berries that year, but I didn’t need them anyway. Rest, dear bushes, for this season. A perfect time to do so.

I also lost many of my seasoned pickers due to COVID. A big lesson for me. How do I get the berries off these bushes for the buyers that want them? Somehow it all came together. And what I learned was that I had to meet people where they were. I had to grow and adjust myself as I was looking at a different way for the season to evolve.

So instead of my seasoned pickers, I had some very interesting people come up the driveway to pick. An older man, painter by trade, who was on disability and who needed a break from the rigors of climbing ladders. His son, who arrived in cowboy boots, cowboy hat, with a radio in his back pocket playing country music as he picked. A master gardener, who studied herpetology, and also had a medicinal herb garden at home. Something that came in handy for me, as I came down with a respiratory virus near season’s end.

Two young brothers, one legally blind who relied on his older brother for much. I don’t know how he did it, but he picked blueberries throughout the season, putting his face right up into the bushes. Every time my dog showed up in the row they were picking, they would both start singing ‘Ghost Dog’. Was it from a video game or TV show? I don’t know. But I told them that I would always hear that tune in my head when I thought of them.

A young woman who has had a troubled life, be it self-made or created for her by others, I don’t know. But she tried her best to keep her spirits up by singing while she picked. And finally, one of my old pickers, back in the area again, came to pick and was a god-send as I tried to train all the newer hands in the blueberry patch.

I’ve always worked with the energy here on this farm. Raising it every day to the point that people who are sensitive can feel the difference. It’s a place for healing. Many feel as if they are bursting through a protective bubble when they leave and drive back off into the world beyond my acreage.

And especially this summer, I felt that everyone who came to pick needed to be here. For their own healing or perhaps for my healing and personal growth. Teaching me to meet everyone where they were. Acknowledging their limitations and my own and accepting that, as we all worked hard to produce what needed to be harvested. So not only did they help me get my orders filled, they delivered some lessons to me as a bonus.

Every year, the thing I’ve always loved about having a blueberry farm is the circular nature of it. I have berries that need picking to sell to my buyers. And my pickers need money to pay their bills and so they show up at 6AM every morning. We are helping each other and I’ve always loved that feeling.

For despite what we might think, we are cyclic creatures. As the sun rises, so do we. As it sets, we begin to wind down. We have our routines that coincide with the cycles of the Mother. And so, as I see the leaves begin to turn on my cherry tree, I understand it is time to welcome autumn and all the joys it brings.

I’m looking forward to a quieter time. Not having to rise at 4:30AM and go to bed before the sun sets. But I am someone who needs to stay busy. What will I do now to live a purposeful life? I have no idea. But whatever it is, I’m certain there will be lessons involved.

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