Connor, Ian, and I made a trip up the coast to visit my mom and step-father Etienne this past week, with a plan to stock up on blueberries along the way.  In August in the midcoast, as well as further down east, signs for wild Maine blueberries are everywhere.  I made calls to a few different places, and was surprised to learn that there can be quite a bit of variation in how berries are handled in regards to pest control.  There were, of course, the organic blueberry growers that don’t spray at all, but what I was particularly surprised to learn was that among conventional blueberry growers, spraying practices can vary quite a bit–in ways that seem to me to be quite significant.  In particular, some places I called mentioned that they had sprayed a few weeks before harvest, which means, of course, that the berries would have been sprayed directly.  I got a recommendation from my dad of a place that he had bought from the year before–Stewarts Blueberries in Stockton Springs.  When I phoned them, I was pleased to learn that they only spray the fields prior to the blueberries actually growing–so the fruits themselves are not sprayed.  I certainly don’t know much about wild blueberry production practices, but somehow this difference in terms of use of spray seems significant to me.  So, we decided to go with Stewart’s, and the boys and I took a morning drive up to Stockton Springs  to pick up the supply of berries I’d ordered the night before.  Stewart’s is an unassuming place in a gorgeous setting, with rolling blueberry barrens stretching out behind the modest building housing a small retail space and blueberry packing area.  And, the folks there couldn’t have been more welcoming. When we arrived, they handed Connor and Ian each a cup of fresh berries to snack on, and invited us into the back to watch the berries coming down the conveyor belt and being packed into boxes.  We purchased 45 pounds for us, and 60 pounds to bring back to my Dad and stepmother Ann.  What beautiful berries!  We packed the 7 boxes into the back of the car, and headed home to get them into the freezer.

Buying Blueberries from Stewarts' 1, 8-12-10

Buying blueberries from Stewarts' 2, 8-12-10

Buying blueberries from Stewarts' 3, 8-12-10