The Tale of Wild Blueberries
Ok, who doesn’t love summer, sandy beaches, long summer evenings, and of course wild blueberry season? Our berries begin to ripen in early August and are ready to harvest by the middle of the month. It is a fascinating time with multiple shades of anti-oxidant rich super berries ripening to maturity. If your fingers and your lips are stained blue then you know you are getting the very tastiest and healthiest berries of the summer.
We are passionate about our wild blueberries and would like to believe that when the earth was first formed wild blueberry plants were some of the first plants to grow in the newly minted soil, thus sustaining all future life with their vibrant and wholesome nutrients. Or maybe the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam and Eve was a handful of tasty wild blueberries they just couldn’t resist because of the abundant juicy flavour. Of course we know this isn’t the way things happened though, and that this is definitely just our imagination getting away on us again. What we do know for certain is that wild blueberries have been around for a long, long time.
Native Tribes of North America were the first stewards of the blue patch. Their timely forest fires to control both pests and weeds were samples of early wild blueberry management. This tasty wonder-fruit was then eaten fresh, or dried and used in breads and Pemmican. The colourful berries were also used to make dyes and for medicinal purposes. Early European settlers marvelled at the abundance of the mystical healthy berry, at its versatility, and of course it’s great taste. Pies, muffins, and jams were common-place on early North American tables and the same holds true today.
Here on Prince Edward Island, when speaking with some old-timers in our Fort Augustus community, they tell elaborate stories of wagon rides to the Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries by the barrel-full. In years past, our forest was called Blueberry Hill or sometimes Fox Hills. These barrels were then traded at the general store to buy groceries or to pay on a grocery account. These blueberries were a proven commodity. Today, as in years past, wild blueberries are an important part of our community and provincial economies.
Our blueberries grow wild. We are not truly farmers, but simply managers of these wondrous wild blueberry plants. They grow wild and we lightly manage the pest and weeds. A truly simple arrangement.