It might sound ridiculous to you that a girl from Pemberton (population 2400, 1 set of traffic lights) should discover that she has a problem with velocity – as in, desperately needs to slow down the pace. But it was really the strawberries that did it.
As Socrates said: Beware the barrenness of a busy life.
My take on the wise old Athenian’s warning: Consider a schedule that is too busy to accommodate the picking of fresh in-season strawberries as a life too busy for its own good.
Pemberton is the seed potato capital of Canada, but it also boasts a growing number of young organic farmers, market gardeners, natural beef ranchers and berry growers, making it an exciting place to stop by the Wednesday night Farmers Market between June and October.
I think the trend of having younger farmers is happening everywhere in Canada. It seems that Canadians are starting to put more value to locally grown food, which is encouraging younger people to start farming. We have a long way to go to help bring down the average age of farmers, but it is encouraging. Strawberry growers Carrie and Remi Charron, Camel’s Back Farm.
It’s also a place well-suited to reconnecting with your inner Preserving Goddess or Guru. A succession of in-season berries offers a summer-long crash course in jam-making, hulling, freezing, smoothie-supply-stashing, pie-making or just carefree gorging. From the first appearance of wild salmonberries, then strawberries in late June, raspberries after that, thimbleberries, saskatoonberries and cherries, to the blueberries and huckleberries that bring up the tail end of the season, and even, (to one former prairie-boy’s delight), gooseberries, the Pemberton Farmer’s Market tables offer a cure to anyone too pressed to get out for a pick-your-own session.
For the more dedicated, “picking your own” is an incredible way to reconnect with the cycle of the seasons, and ensure a real stockpile of sweet treats to last through the winter.
Unfortunately, this summer’s strawberry season was over all too soon in Pemberton: the Lygys bug took a hankering to everyone’s plants during the flowering stage, so backyard gardeners and the pick-your-own operations at North Arm Farm and Camel’s Back Harvest had slower picking and earlier close to the season than usual. But, in the spirit of farmers everywhere, they shrugged it off with a “there’s always next year.”
Those who did get their strawberry-picking in by mid-July raved about the sweet delicious fruits, but I turned to blueberries to fill my freezer and replenish my jam supplies.
I also snacked on a few handfuls of thimbleberries out hiking the trails. (My berry-expert friend might call them “mealy and insipid,” as far as delicacies go, but if you’re ever pressed for toilet paper in the woods, it’s good to be able to identify this plant.)
The real bounty this summer is coming in at Hare’s Family Farm. In its second year of operation growing organic blueberries, Hare’s Farm represents another uniquely Pemberton trend, of growers and gardeners who are also professional skiers, and discovering that there is a natural rhythm to the year that takes one from season to season: planting, growing, harvesting, skiing. One simply leads into the next.
To be a good small-plot organic farmer, you have to truly love the land, and every single cell of life. Organic blueberry grower, JD Hare, Hare’s Family Farm.
I figure, once I’ve truly absorbed that, my troubles with velocity will be fully under control.
Until then, there’s always berry season to serve as a delightful reminder.
Farms & Markets in Pemberton, BC