We knew converting our conventional blueberry orchards to organic production was going to be a challenge, but I didn’t consider that I might not survive the challenge amidst the 100 degrees days of summer!
The decision, even with the heat, was sound one. After all, organic berries are what our customers want. They buy Jubilee Blues and come out to pick our fruit because it's the best they can buy, and it's the most nutritious and healthy berries that are available. Besides that, it's important to be good stewards of our precious land and water here in the lovely Red Hills Region. By not spraying chemicals and pesticides that end up in streams and lakes and the air, we can help ensure that our orchard is making a minimal environment impact.
But it's really hard, I confess, to grow organically in Florida. Unlike California, where I went to college and worked at Yosemite National Park, Florida has humidity, high heat, and lots of bugs and insects. When you turn on the organic fertilizer, you grow at least one weed for each berry produced - that adds up to a lot of weeds!
In organic agriculture, you can't turn to chemicals or pesticides to help you defeat the predators. You have to get in there and pull weeds out by hand, and you best get them out before they produce weed seeds that permeate your orchard. And you better not go on vacation, because if you do when you come back you will see lots of unhappy berry plants and lots of happy weeds that have thrown a block party in your orchard!
Come spring. Please come. We can't wait to enjoy the fruits of our hard labor in the organic orchard. And we can't wait to serve our customers with organic Jubilee Blues Berries grown right here in the Red Hills of North Florida!