"A truly inspiring story, in gorgeous prose, about one family's journey into blueberry farming. Delicious reading." —Naomi Wolf, author of The End of America
The Blueberry Years is a mouth-watering and delightful memoir based on Jim Minick's trials and tribulations as an organic blueberry farmer. This story of one couple and one farm shows how our country's appetite for cheap food affects how that food is grown, who does or does not grow it, and what happens to the land. But this memoir also calls attention to the fragile nature of our global food system and our nation's ambivalence about what we eat and where it comes from.
Readers of Michael Polland and Barbara Kingsolver will savor the tale of Jim's farm and the exploration of larger issues facing agriculture in the United States—like the rise of organic farming, the plight of small farmers, and the loneliness common in rural America. Ultimately, The Blueberry Years tells the story of a place shaped by a young couple's dream, and how that dream ripened into one of the mid-Atlantic's first certified-organic, pick-your-own blueberry farms.
Minick, a columnist for the Roanoke Times New River Current, chronicles how he and his wife, Sarah, pursued their dream of starting an organic, pick-your-own blueberry farm in Virginia. They hope that the experiment in new millennial homesteading will make them independent of their "off-farm" teaching jobs and lead to a simpler and environmentally responsible life that gives them the time to practice their arts (Jim writing, Sarah basket weaving). The chapters narrating their 12 years of farming are separated by interludes on the scientific and cultural history of the blueberry and the benefits of organic farming. Minick also expands the story beyond his personal experience to tell a larger story of the extreme financial challenges facing the independent American farmer, as well as exploring the negative effects of agrobusiness on American diets and health. Despite the headaches, loneliness, and unglamorous aspects of farming, Minick sees the farm as a holy place of fellowship between humans and the land. The narrative benefits from the charming stories of people who visit the farm, many driving hundreds of miles to pick blueberries, concluding with a collection of enticing blueberry recipes.