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Growing Blackberries

Food is personal. That is true for everyone and it remains true despite all the cultural differences of history, geography, language, etc…

Jamie, Walker, Zach and I went out to Hendersonville a few weeks ago for a discussion about blackberries. We learned about a lot of things we’ve been doing wrong. That always seems to be the case. The more you know about a subject, the more you recognize you don’t know.

Our over-producing blackberry canes

 

Farming is a constantly humbling profession. One that is so complex it is often difficult to understand the outcome of any particular action until several years later. On the way back to the farm, we talked about the frustrations of growing small fruits and apples, things that seem susceptible to such a multitude of pests, diseases, and fungal problems. In the blackberries, for instance, we thought that we were on top of our game because we’d pruned them well early in the winter and bedded them in the spring with hay to prevent weeds. Of course, we soon discovered that blackberries don’t really like thick bedding like ours, nor did we prune them sufficiently for the varietal type, a mistake that cost us half of the crop this year. At times, the pitfalls just seem too numerous to handle. It is as if any positive action is negated by unknown factors before it has the chance to provide any benefits. BUT, I think that one of the most rewarding parts of working on the farm is wrapped up right there in that very frustration. Despite all the dangers; despite the beetles and flies, despite the fungi, despite the rots, specks, blotches, and blights, growing good, healthy, organic fruit can be done. It can. We are doing it. And when it comes out right, when you pluck that apple from the tree and sink your teeth into the firm, juicy flesh, or pop those warm blueberries into your mouth, you know that it was worth it.

Food is personal. Everyone’s relationship with what they eat is different, but there are strong feelings involved whether a person eats primarily KFC, or Hickory Nut Gap chicken. Farming or gardening is, in this modern age, a way for us to understand our own relationship with food more completely. I enjoy knowing how my food is grown. Not just knowing the process, but intimately knowing and taking part in that process.