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Pat’s Blueberry Farm…

Posted by on August 8, 2016
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Pat’s selling season is coming to an end. But he still had some of the sweetest berries I’d ever tasted. Always prone to excess, I left with sufficient blueberries to grace enough cereal bowls for an entire Boy Scout Troop! 

LET’S STOP. IT’S RIGHT ON THE WAY HOME. Driving home the morning after our wonderful Table in a Kitchen experience, where we enjoyed a five course meal and had a chance to interact with the chef who prepared it, I had a great idea. “Let’s stop at Pat’s Blueberry Farm and get some fresh vegetables,” I said to Florence. “It won’t take but a minute and I need some berries anyhow. Remember how we promised to save a little money by not eating in restaurants every day?”  My statement and question were crafted to get me down the country lane and into Pat’s garage, where the talk about blueberries and summer crops always occurs when he’s not busy. Here’s how it works: I do the cooking. Florence is a picky eater but she does like good fresh fruit and vegetables. And she and I have decided to make a conscious effort top stay within our budget better than we’ve been doing. So a combination of all those thoughts wrapped into my suggestion that we stop at Pat’s Farm was crafted to get Florence’s agreement, despite the darn-near unbearable heat!

farmFARM TO TABLE. This phrase really represents a social movement which promotes serving local food at restaurants and school cafeterias, through direct acquisition from the producer, which typically is a farm. More and more professional chefs are demanding that their restaurants participate and more and more diners are making the same demands. Farm-to-table often incorporates a form of food trace-ability, celebrated as “knowing where your food comes from” where the origin of the food is identified to consumers. Participants in the movement, such as my friend Diane Hollister, San Diego’s premier gardening instructor, often reject other conventional or “commodity” agricultural practices, embrace sustainable agriculture, organic farming, free-range animal husbandry and fair trade. All of this makes sense. Perfect sense. And it also offers the best meals both at home and at restaurants possible. I’ve made it a point on our Adventure to participate to the extent possible and in addition to getting fresh locally grown food, I’ve met some of the nicest folks and farmers you’d ever want to meet. Doing that is what our Great American Adventure is all about.

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That’s a heck of a lot of blueberries, I don’t care what you say!

PAT’S FARM. When you’re all about preparing good, clean and tasty food, it doesn’t take long to discover the sources for buying the ingredients. Ordinarily, the local supermarket just doesn’t get it. So, shortly after we arrived in Pensacola and I got well enough to get back to my serious hobby of cooking and presenting food, I discovered Pat’s Blueberry Farm. His operation is a “you pick or we pick” place in the country. He’s located at 4876 White Ash Road, Molino, Florida. Pat is an unassuming guy, but he’s proud of his produce and will tell you, “I’ve been told for years that my blueberries are the best around.” And of course they’re pesticide-free. Now, that’s not to say that other farmers, even blueberry farmers, don’t make the same claim to fame. For example, at Fred and Patty’s Farm, which we visited in September of 2014 when we were in Sandpoint, Idaho near Flathead Lake, we were told the same thing. But that’s okay…there’s room for more than one “Best Blueberry Farm” don’t you think?

pat3PAT’S BLUEBERRIES. Anyway, back to Pat. His specialty is blueberries. He told me the story of how he got started. He found some bushes for sale locally and thought raising them might be something he’d enjoy doing in his retirement. He planned to start his operation small, perhaps a hundred plants. Between the inception of the idea and his first planting, he’d acquired more than 2,500 plants and learned more about blueberry farming than he ever thought he’d want to know. For example, he tells me that Blueberries are picky about soil. (There’s a difference between dirt and soil. My friend Diane has made that very clear to me. And she knows about these things!) Anyhow, blueberries require soil that is acidic, high in organic matter and moist yet well-drained. The  bushes should be planted in early Spring, and that’s when Pat planted his crop.

AND MORE. Although blueberries are Pat’s stock in trade, he also grows and sells zucchini, tomatoes, okra and new potatoes. Going to his farm and getting involved with this family owned and operated business is fun. I’d say if you’re going to be in the area, a trip to his farm would be fun for every age in the family!

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That’s some good looking produce! Even the best chef can’t perform to her potential with vegetables from Wal-mart! No, this kind of food from Pat is the starting point to tasty meals and responsible consumption.

 

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That’s what I’m talking about!

 

 

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I won’t kid you. It was really hot when we stopped at Pat’s Farm. But it was worth the stop for sure. And there was no rush. We were the only ones there and we had lots of time to listen to Pat’s stories. That was more fun than picking his berries!

 

 

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Pat hosted us, despite the heat of the day, on a trip to his blueberry field. He wanted to make sure we got the best berries available.

 

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These two were picking berries as if there were no tomorrow. I think Pat does this more out of a love for gardening and meeting people than for any other reason.

 

 

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This is what it’s all about. And also about making others happy.

 

 

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At the end of the afternoon, Pat insisted on bagging our berries and putting them on ice in our ice chest. Service with a smile on his face. And a song in his heart, I bet.

 

THANKS FOR JOINING US. I hope you enjoyed our visit to the blueberry farm as much as I enjoyed showing it to you. Think about the farm to table concept and notice next time you’re at your favorite restaurant whether the chef participates. If not, consider asking him, “Why not?” He’d be hard pressed to give you a good answer.

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I’ll continue my story next time.

7 Responses to Pat’s Blueberry Farm…

  1. Steve Lockman

    I have only joined your followers a short time ago. Everytime I read one of your publications, I dwell on what I have missed for not knowing of your Great American Adventures. I have personally shared and enjoyed the benefits of Pat’s blueberries. They are AWESOME. Pat is AWESOME. Thank you for sharing and thank you for recognizing those that in their own small way make our country so wonderful one personality at a time. The back roads of America are wonderful. Keep blogging . . . .

  2. Dan Hartman

    Can’t wait to see a picture of your new arrival today! Congrats! Dan & Robyn

  3. Annie Skarie

    Wishes we had easy access to farms like this, but we only have farmers who come from the eastern part of the state who bring in veggies at road side stands that we can get the good stuff. But no fruits. Just veggies. Would be nice to have access to farms like this.

  4. Greg Alford

    Steve, you summed it up well. You get it! It’s the people who make this country great, “one personality at a time.”

    The places we’ve seen across America are spectacular and I’d not have missed seeing them for anything in the world. But when we arrive in a small town and are greeted and welcomed by total strangers as if we were family, invited to join them for their 4th of July Parade and stand with hands over our hearts with them as the Boy Scouts march by with flags a flying..that’s what this country is all about.

    That’s what I’m trying to capture and record on our Great American Adventure. This is the best country on earth, the most prosperous and the most benevolent in the history of mankind. It’s high time that we start treating it as such. Let’s not take it for granted. Let’s support our troops with the equipment they need to do their jobs. And lets give them permission to do that job. Let’s not have a President who travels abroad during his first year in office on an “apology tour.” We’re the best. We don’t need any other nation-state’s approval to do the right thing.

    God Bless America! And God help us if things don’t change for the better, now!

    Greg Alford

  5. Greg Alford

    Hi Dan and Robyn: Did I understand you to want a picture of our new puppy? The one we picked up at the airport about an hour ago? The one who has already captivated our hearts, put a tear in our eyes and within a minute has us laughing out loud at her antics? That one? Well, you’re in luck. I’ll get a picture off to you soon. In fact I can even do better than that. Will 50 or 60 pictures of her be enough?

  6. Greg Alford

    Hi Annie. I agree with you. It’s special having a chance to support local farmers and get the best and freshest fruits and vegetables. It’s good for the communities we visit, it’s the responsible thing to do and I know the meals I prepare are better because of it. But don’t take my word for it. You could probably twist my arm and get me to fix you guys dinner one of these days! Try me!

  7. Dan Hartman

    Still waiting on the 50-60 pictures of your new baby! Hurry Greg, we can’t wait much longer!

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