The Blueberries you will be picking were planted in 1964 by the late David Trehane. His first blueberries were planted in 1951, 80 plants which came from the delightfully named Lulu Island in British Columbia. They were offered free of charge to any grower who was prepared to trial them to see how ‘high bush’ blueberries would perform in this country. They didn’t just grow but thrived in our sandy, acidic Dorset heathland soil, so in 1957 David took the plunge and planted a whole acre, about 1000 plants. The fact that David was the only UK grower to see the potential and then to plant blueberries commercially is a tribute to his great talent as a horticultural innovator and pioneer. He also set up the camellia nursery in the 1950’s, introducing many varieties to British gardens.
When David moved in 1969 to the homeland of Cornwall (“-Tre, -Pol and -Pen. By these shall ye know them, the Cornish men”!) the blueberry and camellia businesses grew and flourished under the different managements in the form of his son Jeremy, daughter Jennifer and her son David Jnr. Now the land is owned by Jeremy Trehane but the blueberry PYO business has been handed on to Josh Benson. Josh has been actively involved with all aspects of the business for 17 years and is ideally placed to continue the established growing philosophy while bringing exciting and new ideas to the party.
NEW FOR 2018!
Josh has teamed up with his brother Dan (aka Benson & Benson) and they are all go this year setting up lots of new stuff on site. Come down this summer and you will find:
New seasonal Cafe with fresh coffee, blueberry smoothies, cakes & ice creams
New cut-flower cafe & outdoor seating
New kids picnic area with a woodchip kitchen and our own blueberry monster!
Also very exciting is our first crop of cut-flowers, all of which will be sold on site in the cafe
For more info on whats been going on this year, there are loads to look at by visiting:
There are eight different varieties in the plantation. These were the best and latest varieties in 1964 when they were planted. Now only one of these, ‘Bluecrop’ is still widely available in the shops. As the supermarkets have come to dominate the trade most of the other varieties have been rejected on grounds of firmness, uniformity, shelf life or shape. As a result we, and you are left with some of the tastiest, most characterful and distinctive blueberries to be found anywhere! There are varieties to suit every taste as one thing we’ve learned over the years is everyone’s tastes buds are different!
The first variety to ripen, EARLIBLUE, is a good example as some folks find it a bit bland, others can’t get enough of its sweetness. Then you have the soft, sweet COLLINS, pale blue and delicate flavours of the BERKELEY, rich dark and intense IVANHOE, spicy perfumed COVILLE and the luscious HERBERT, described by one ‘celebrity’ chef while filming here for the BBC as the ‘champagne blueberry’!
Our regular customers know which variety they want and pick enough to top up their freezers for the winter as they freeze perfectly and take no time at all to defrost. That way they can have Dorset Blues on their porridge all year round…… yum!!
The PYO Blueberries have been grown organically their whole lives and indeed later in 2018 we will have finished our Soil Association conversion period and be able to say we are officially organic!
However growing organically does provide serious challenges and last season we really suffered with a fungus commonly known to blueberry farmers as mummyberry.
This fungus basically wiped out half our crop and once it is present on such a scale it is very hard to get rid of without resorting to commercial fungicides.
Obviously being 100% committed to organic farming we could not venture down this road – so this season we have trialled two management techniques both of which are proving successful so far.
The first method is to intensively strim the entire field just prior to spores being dispersed – this breaks the fungus cycle and whilst it adds an intense 2 weeks of endless strimming to our busy calendar it has certainly made a huge difference this year.
The second method has been to trial spray a test area with a combination of Serenade & Garlic barrier. Both products are fully certified as organic and in short act as a kind of supplement to the plants to help them fight off any infection – a bit like an Echinacea or a vitamin C tablet that helps our immune systems.
This method is also showing positive effect and going forward we will be weighing up how to manage this in the future.
Both methods have a cost implication in terms of our time and energy but these are just some of the challenges facing organic farmers that we have to deal with. Either way our main goal is still the same:
To keep our famous plants organically farmed to the best of our ability & thereby growing the best fruit we possibly we can.
If you would like any more detail on the matter then by all means get in touch with Josh directly and he can explain some more.