Monday, March 10, 2014

Infiltrating the Underground Blueberry Market

I'm a planner, and, more often than not, a tedious, painfully deliberate one. Each spring, my various planting and gardening areas become the target of my planning powers, and of my aspirations, hopes, dreams and wishes. I carefully consider each catalog, each variety, each seed--and I wait to see what germinates.

However, this season, my son and I quickly became obsessed with getting blueberry bushes. Once we discussed it, we decided immediately: we MUST have blueberry bushes. This past weekend, I had been researching what I thought might be some good mail order options online when...

Serendipitously, on Sunday, just prior to heading out to do some browsing at the local garden centers, and trying to sufficiently caffeinate myself from the switch to DST, I saw a Facebook post from a local enough blueberry farm with which I was vaguely familiar (in the Blueberry Capitol of the World, Hammonton, NJ!). This farm was selling $10 plants, but not just any plants: 4-foot, 3-year old, organic, non-GMO plants! In fact, they posted that they were open for business from 1-6 p.m. 

So, of course, we drove to DiMeo Farms in Hammonton, NJ to get four of the storied shrubs, hoping the deal wasn't too good to be true.

To be honest, many pieces of the process aroused suspicion. There were a lot of rules, too many steps, conflicting information that seemed...coded. Subterfuge (likely accidental) abounded. 
Thankfully, there were also a lot of blueberry bushes. 

After trying to decode the discrepancies between the open invitation to the farm posted on FB and the very specific directions to call the farm and "make an appointment" detailed on their website, I did call ahead (I tend to be overly conscientious). But, I got no answer. I decided to just leave a message saying that I saw their post on FB and to call me if there was any problem with us just showing up. 

I guess there wasn't a problem...
 We arrived at the farm and pulled in to the driveway, where we saw only a single truck (likely the farmer's own), parked near what is likely the owner's very lovely home, which was surrounded by blueberry plants. Somehow the only farmer working spotted us from across the fields and came hurrying over, and looked like he was making a cell phone call...the eagle has landed?

 This is not the farmer.

They do have a lot of blueberry bushes at DiMeo!

The farmer came over, directed us to park in a very specific space which he practically measured out with his precise gesticulations, and asked us how many plants we'd like. Then he went deep into the fields to choose them (rather than just grabbing four containers from the front) and put them in our car. He then told us "The Boss" was coming so we waited a bit, maybe five minutes. I asked the farmer if we could just pay him and be on our way and he laughed :-) Hmm. He went back to work. "The Boss" eventually came out. He was polite but guarded, and not particularly forthcoming with blueberry bush advice or interesting anecdotes. He gave us a handout on how to take care of the plants. I paid him (cash, of course, and, no receipt) and we (finally) made off with our plants. 

Score? Something...more?

Maybe I've been watching too much True Detective. Or, maybe I'm just thinking about that Bob's Burgers episode where the kids work at the "blueberry farm" for a summer. Hmm.

                                                       Here are our 4 plants, and a rainbow                                                        (No, Cohle, you are not hallucinating the rainbow.)

Apparently, I got a mix of organic Duke and Bluecrop blueberry varieties.

DiMeo has plenty of $10 blueberry plants right now, so if you are interested, give them a call to "schedule an appointment," or hit up their FB page to which they seem very responsive. 
Let me know if you need back up...

After stashing our blueberries, we took a side road to investigate this suspicious lake:


Can't decide where to plant the blueberries...I have two options, both of which have potential blueberry predators. Gonna have to choose between the pee-ers and flyers or the climbers and eaters. 

Once the blueberry issue is settled, I guess I'll have to start catchin' again.

Meantime, check out my spring planning post from last year, which includes links to past gardening adventures. 

Happy Spring!


  1. I have just forwarded to my dad, the gardener in the family, and requested that he purchase, plant, and care for so that I may be flush with blueberries! Is that not a good deal?

    1. Abby, THAT is an EXCELLENT deal! :-)

  2. So cool! I love blueberries. I WISH I had a place to grow, or even just pick them.

    1. I love them, too. We'll see how it goes. There are so many critters around here (squirrels, birds and groundhogs, even ants) who eat my produce and there are the many neighborhood dogs who pee all over my plants on the curb side of my front yard (which is why I always do super tall sunflowers in the hell strip!). I'm not sure if I'll get to eat many berries, but I'm hoping for the best! I'll try to keep you guys posted. This should be interesting.