A one acre plot of blueberries was planted in 1990 when we were looking for a product that would compliment our retail garden center business. Already operating a farm we decided to try fruit production and blueberries were a fruit that we could grow organically or in an earth friendly way. Prior to 1990 we researched and experimented with different varieties to determine the hardiest and best tasting ones for our area. In the summer of 1990 we planted one acre of Northblue half-high blueberry bushes, little did we know what we were getting into. A couple years after planting the patch we were hit with a freak hail storm that produced golf ball sized hail, this storm beat the Blueberry plants back to the ground. After threatening to plow the patch under several times and a lot of back breaking work the plants finally started to make some head way and in 1995 we began our first year of U-pick and retail sales. We have been picking every year since with the exception of one year, 2003, when we were blessed with a brutally cold winter along with very little snow cover, followed by an ice storm which coated the bushes for a couple of weeks. As a result nearly all the buds, which are set the previous fall, were destroyed along with most of the plant. This led to no fruit production that year and created a major plant pruning project that took the entire summer. This set back affected fruit production for several years to come. During the drought years, which seem to linger on, we are thankful for a good well and drip irrigation system. Without these there would not be berries to pick. It just goes to show you that Mother Nature is still in control and that berries are no easy row to hoe.
Health Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries also referred to as “Brain Berries” are listed as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Blueberries are bursting with nutrients and flavor, yet are low in calories. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and ellagic acid. Research has shown that blueberries have the potential to improve motor skills and reverse short term memory loss that comes with aging. Studies also show blueberries help maintain urinary tract health along with blocking metabolic pathways that can promote cancer. Various studies have demonstrated that people who consume fruits which are high in ellagic acid are three times less likely to develop cancer than those who consume little or no dietary ellagic acid. Blueberries, as well as raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries, are higher in ellagic acid than other fruits. To add to the health benefits of blueberries at Bashaw Valley Farm we grow all our fruit organically.