To our dear customers,
We have come to the end of the row, but before we pack up the tools, close the gate and head for our next adventure, we wanted to reminisce a bit and say a proper goodbye to all of you who made John's dream come true.
The blueberry patch was a twinkle in John's eye, long before I was ever in the country. He was only in his 20s when he met the original "back-to-the-land" gurus, Helen and Scott Nearing, and was inspired to grow blueberries.
In the late 80s John found the land for his passive solar home 10 km east of Tweed, and later found the perfect spot for his blueberry farm. And it was already a U-pick berry farm! Russell Flieler (yep, that would be Jim's Dad), had a U-Pick raspberry farm where the blueberries now grow. Russell not only sold the land to John, he became a wonderful neighbor and most of all, a great source of farming information and encouragement to a young city fellow who'd done lots of research but didn't have much dirt time.
It was the spring of 1987 when over 1000 one year old, one-foot high, bare root saplings arrived in Tweed. John spent weeks planting them in individual pots, nursing them through the summer and then protected them over their first winter. This is when I arrived on the scene. So there was love as well as blueberries growing that summer.
In 1988, John, with some help from my Dad, spent the late spring, planting all the little blueberry plants, sometimes literally by a headlamp and the light of the moon. Fast forward to 1991, Wilson's Organic Blueberries opened for the first picking!!!
It is incredible to look back at the books and see that some of the people that came that first season, were here picking this year, our last season.
In addition to growing blueberries, John had a long career making wildlife and travel documentary films for television and lecture presentations. I was a Naturalist at Bon Echo and parks across the U.S. before making films with John. During the years we were away filming, a number of other local people ran the blueberries in our absence. Then in about 2003 we took it on full time and have spent Spring, Summer and Fall each year irrigating, pruning, weeding, mowing, mulching and picking ever since.
It's hard to believe that almost 30 seasons have passed since the blueberry bushes of John's dream began to grow in Tweed. Along the way we have met so many wonderful people – YOU! How many times have we thanked people for their purchase, only to have them turn it around and express deep gratitude to us for providing the opportunity? You have brought us gifts; given us your smiles; told us how thrilled you were to come and pick berries; made eating local, organic produce an important part of your lives; kept coming back in the boom years and stood by us in the bust years. We have heard friends and families making memories in the blueberry patch; we have watched children grow up picking our blueberries and then bring their own children to pick and we remember with great fondness some of our long time customers who are now picking blueberries in that ever-bearing patch in the sky. It is truly because of you, that Wilson's Organic Blueberries was a dream come true. It is you who made it the fulfilling and gratifying endeavor that it was.
And now it's time to hand the neckties and berry baskets over to James and Teresa Murray to continue the tradition John started in Tweed. We are delighted to have found a young couple that has the energy and commitment to keep bringing you local, organic blueberries for years to come. And the next time we see you in the patch, it will be from the other side of a bush and we might just be reaching for the same berry.
With bushel baskets of gratitude we wish you great picking in fields wherever life takes you,
John and Denice
The portrait of Denice and John is courtesy of the Belleville Intelligencer, A bumper crop of blueberries