We added blueberries at Paper Crane this year. Given the strict soil requirements of blueberries, as well as blueberries’ popularity with the local bird population, we’ve always found it cheaper to buy blueberries than to grow them. Despite our frugal approach, the fact is that most things are cheaper to buy than to grow, which is a big part of what’s wrong with agriculture today. And so we threw frugality to the wind and bought some plants through Nourse Farms, our favorite berry nursery. What you grow yourself has more inherent value than what you buy off the shelf. It is more nutritious and tastes better. And so, even though we could buy blueberries for $1.50/pint down at Haymarket, a apple to apple price comparison can’t be the only factor in deciding what to grow.
As referenced above, fresh fruits and vegetables have higher vitamin content than produce picked weeks earlier. Same with flavor. Something vine ripened is going to taste better than something picked green and ripened on the truck up from Florida. Something grown organically on your own land is also a known quantity. No pesticides, no GMOs, no unsanitary processing facilities, etc.
But there are even stronger reasons to grow our own food. We grow it so we can pick it. The honeyberries ripened this week. They were our first fruits of the year, and we couldn’t hold the kids back from them. Our youngest is 18 months. She’s never picked fruit before, but she got the concept in about 30 seconds, then proceeded to clear two bushes, popping every purple berry into her mouth and ignoring the unripe green ones.
I don’t know how to quantify it, but that love of the garden I see in my children has great inherent value to me.
The other reason to grow our food goes back to the purpose of this blog. Resiliency. The world is changing around us. Growing our own food insulates us from potential outside impacts on our household through economic fluxes, the spread of disease, and climate change. We want as diverse a supply of produce as possible. Blueberries will ripen at a slightly different time than our other fruits, giving us something to pick when perhaps we have nothing else in season. Blueberries will supply a different set of vitamins than our other products. A diseases that wipes out one crop may bypass another. Growing blueberries makes us a more resilient farmstead.
We ordered four varieties – Reka, Northland, Chaldler, Jersey. Nourse recognizes four different seasons for blueberries, early, mid, late mid, and late. We chose one variety for each season. We’ll see how it goes.
I was surprised to see flowers on them this first season, hence the post. Perhaps we’ll see something to eat as well.