My goal for this property is to grow organic blueberries using intensive organic techniques. Growing up in New England, I have very fond memories of finding wild blueberries in the summer. After moving to the west, I missed the amazing full flavor the cold-weather berries had.
This specific plot of land has a number of factors that make it exceptionally good for blueberries: It is unusual to have these conditions so close to Santa Cruz.
- We are located at in the very bottom of a large valley that gets much colder than the surrounding areas. This gives us deep freezes every year (several weeks of 22-27 degree lows). This is just enough to be able to grow the cold-climate varieties.
- We also have an shallow well that gives us intensely sulfuric water. It has been very difficult to treat the water to make it usable in the home – but the blueberries love it!
- We have a direct southern exposure that give us abundant sunlight.
- I have neighbors with horses that provide lots of organic manure.
- We have water rights to Bean Creek which runs along the south side of the property.
We started with a dozen plants to try different varieties. I am just finishing the first enclosure. Since birds (and apparently all other life forms) love blueberries, I need to have them completely enclosed. I came up with a module design that has blocks of 12×20 feet. The first section is three of these sections measuring 36 by 20.
The original 12 plants are now 4 years old and I am cutting starts from them. This year we will plant another 24 plants – some from the cuttings and some new varieties to try. Eventually we would like to be able to offer Honey Blueberry Preserves to our wedding venue guests!