Dear friends of the Benson Place, It's hard to believe another blueberry harvest season is now here. Although the cold windy winter caused some bud damage in parts of the fields, it was followed by a great pollination period of warm dry weather. And finally, we are getting enough rainfall to fully mature the berries. Because of the moderate levels of bud damage, we are anticipating an average yield this year, probably lower than the past two years of high yields, but still good picking.
It's been a busy spring here at the farm, and we are excited about some of the new happenings. We are continuing on the next phase of our pollinator project to increase the diversity and abundance of native pollinators, adding small sections of new habitat each year in order to reach our goal of a pollinator habitat area 10% the area of the blueberry fields.
In addition, as of this year, the blueberries grown at the Benson Place are now certified organic by Baystate organic certifiers. Although this does not indicate a change in our farming practices, we are nonetheless happy to have obtained certification and to support organic farming in this way. We are also continuing to convert more and more of the fields into "nutrient dense" management practices in order to optimize soil and plant mineral levels. This means more nutrient rich berries for you, as well as increased plant disease and pest resistance. A win -win!
Recently, we have purchased a third sorting machine, which will provide increased sorting capacity and, hopefully, shorten wait times for weekend u-picking, as well as provide a smoother weekday u-pick flow.
And finally, we are expanding the pick-up options we started last year to include Greenfield, Shelburne Falls, Montague, Amherst and Northampton pick-up options. While we still welcome folks who make the annual pilgrimage to pick up berries at the farm, and possibly have a picnic or go for a walk, we think the pick-up options will provide a convenient option for some, as well as reducing the overall carbon footprint of berry distribution. Look for the dates associated with each pickup location on the online sign-up page of our website. If you do come to the farm, check out the new guided walk to the Blueberry Trail and Historic sites on the farm is up and running - thanks to the Franklin Land Trust and Dave Gott.