A RED Letter Day in the BLUE Berry Patch

(Cam wrote this last night just so you understand why he is writing in the present tense.)

All those little inspirations you see on Facebook and read in those ‘don’t worry, be happy’ books always talk about how you need to enjoy every day. Every day is a new beginning. You could be struck by lightning tomorrow so live every day like it’s your last. It all sounds so easy.

This works until you realize that if it was your last day you’d eat about 5,000 calories of really unhealthy food, and if you ate like this every day and compound this over a period of time … say … every day … well, you would definitely increase the likelihood of each day being your last!

I do strive for this state of mind but it’s difficult. I find myself increasingly turning my thoughts to people in my life who have passed away and thinking “Mom/Brian/Ian/Ted (fill in the blank with someone from your life who has passed away) doesn’t have the option of doing what I’m doing, whether it’s weeding/cutting firewood/unloading manure … so I should enjoy it. It sounds somewhat morbid but it usually works. You focus on the individual and you become really grateful for doing what you’re doing.

I have been very light on blogs of late because the CSA is an enormous amount of work … all of the good kind. I’m pretty exhausted at the end of a day and don’t usually have the energy to even sit at my computer and type. But tonight I do. Today was a red-letter day. Tonight I am absolutely energized.

First off, it rained last night. We had gone a long time without rain and my sandy soil was starting to dry out. I wasn’t in the freaking out stage yet, and I had been staying ahead on watering, but nothing beats a rain. And the rain came when a front moved through which made today sunny but without the humidity, so it was marvelous.

Our friends John and Denice let me into their blueberry patch today. It isn’t officially open yet for the “you-pickers” since there aren’t a lot of ripe berries yet. But if I kept moving I was able to pick some for our members. It was sunny. It was comfortable. They don’t have bugs there. They have an osprey nest because they’re beside Stocco Lake and the birds call to each other all day long and I saw a parent land with a fish for a baby. And the blueberries were amazing.


I am no longer a “Type A”, accumulation-focused individual when it comes to money … hence … why I am able to run a CSA, but I do love filling up a basket of blueberries and then dumping them into the pint containers that we give to our members. It’s delightful. I kept thinking of the alternatives. Driving to a city for work. Working in an industrial park. Sitting in a cubicle. Working on a computer. There is nothing wrong with any of these activities, I am just grateful that some divine force in the universe diverged me from that path and onto one in which I spend my days growing food. And I continue to focus on the fact that if I have to do something to earn an income, what could be lower impact than providing people with food? Locally grown, organically grown food. People have to eat. This is simply the best way to do it. It’s really quite outstanding.

Once I got the blueberries done I zipped home and jumped right in to our raspberry patch. The raspberries are at their peak and I was able to pick a little clamshell package for everyone. This might not seem like a lot but when you realize how much work is involved with the picking, and growing things like raspberries, you are truly left to marvel at the produce sections of grocery stores. How there can be so much food, so cheap, is a truly wondrous thing.

I am never happier though than when I’ve produced something like this myself. I remember planting every section of the two main berry patches. I remember that fall I transplanted all those raspberry canes into the back section to boost it up and fill it in some more. I remember the many times I have slung horse manure onto the raspberry rows during the fall and winter. And the straw from the chicken coop. The soil in the raspberry patches that started out as pretty much sand gets better every year. Once in a while I’ll hit a cluster of berries and one will fall and I’ll crouch down to try and retrieve it. I keep another container near where I’m picking for these casualty berries that we feed to the chickens. OMG they love raspberries! They must be so good for them! And how great that must make their eggs!

When I’m down at the soil level of our raspberry patch I love how dark and cool it seems. And what a unique little ecosystem it is with bugs and microorganisms working to decompose material that falls into it. I know where the energy from raspberries comes from and it’s kind of a big deal. It’s the sun that also powers my house, and the soil.

By dinnertime I was bagged and we had all the blueberries and raspberries ready to go for tomorrow’s member pick up. Tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. I’ll start picking spinach. Michelle will start with lettuce and green onions. Tomorrow our members will also get radishes and snow peas and kale. Next week beans should be ready.

CSA box

In all the ways I have earned a living since I started working part-time in high school 40+ years ago, which includes about a ba-zillion jobs and careers and businesses that I’ve started and run, nothing compares to what I do now. Even after publishing some amazing books about sustainable living, there can simply be no greater satisfaction that loading up all our boxes with an enormous amount of healthy, organic, sustaining, earth friendly, body building, soul enriching produce that I’ve grown and picked.

I love what I do. My food is grown and picked with love. I’m not sure you can assume that about the grocery store stuff.

I think it’s time to raise the price.

Or lower it.

I don’t think that will change my job satisfaction.


* * * * * * *

Michelle’s Note: From time to time I like to point out the “Tip Jar” on the righthand side of this website. Feel free to leave a little something if you enjoy this blog! We appreciate it!



8 Responses to “A RED Letter Day in the BLUE Berry Patch”

  • Jim:

    Cam & Michelle it is good to see your season is powering along well now after the early season hiccups you had.
    My soil pH is like Neil B’s sitting at 8.5, therefore, I am unable to grow blueberries. On the other hand by adding heaps of animal manures and compost over the years I can grow luscious any thing that can stand such a high pH. The casserole I just finished putting together has about 26 vegetables and herbs in it as follows. Potato, carrot, beetroot, parsnip, pea, arrowroot, water chestnut, silver beet, beetroot tops, celery, spinach, tomato, capsicum, eggplant, chilli, lemon grass, thyme, bay leaf, mint, parsley, garlic, rosemary, lemon balm, oregano, marjoram and basil. Then I add beef mince, ginger and sorghum flour which I can’t grow here.
    And Cam I am surprised there isn’t a 5 second limit on your berries which hit the ground so they just jump straight into your mouth!

  • Ruby Lynn Trotter:

    I have 5 blueberry bushes-4different varieties-can’t wait till they start producing. 6 raspberry plants-got a few from the Mammoth Red variety this first year . Your blueberries look delicious.

  • Hi Melanie! Our friends John & Denice own Wilson’s Organic Blueberries in Tweed. Here is their website http://wilsonsorganicblueberries.com/ (which I just happened to design for them!) They should be open soon to the public. There is contact info on the website to give them a call.

  • I don’t think I could pick Blueberry’s and raspberries for customers.
    It would be one for me one for you , two for me , one for you …
    Honestly they look great and delicious! Glad to hear that not everyday is a grind.

  • pat nobbs:

    Glad to get your message about how satisfying it is growing your wonderfully nutritious and delicious food. Lauder and I enjoy greatly eating such fresh, tender greens with a dash of radish, scapes, onion and peas. Thank you. Raspberries and blueberries a bonus. I can feel my immune system preparing me for when it will be time to go back to the grocery store again.

  • Those blueberries look amazing! I remember you did a post some time ago about where you do your picking and I would love to know so I could go and get some myself. I have some blueberry plants but as they grow at a snail’s pace we only have about 10 actual berries. Cheers, Melanie

  • Gerrit:

    Wonderful blog post, Cam. We don’t expect to hear much from you during the high summer. We know how busy you are. I’m glad you had a great day. Best wishes,

  • Neil B. (Orleans):

    Great blog! Love the pictures and the enthusiasm.
    I am sitting here behind a desk at a major government department wishing I was at home with my garden.
    My garden is great this year due to your blog. I don’t get all my information from your blog. However, when I see pictures of your beautiful vegetables and fruit, and mine are not up to standard, it inspires me to research to find out why. Turns out, due to the high concentration of clay soil, my PH was at 8 to 8.5. Nothing finished off properly (small veggies). This year with lots of coffee grinds my my soil a little acidic, I finally have vegetables that look like yours. My red letter day is when my family can eat organic vegetables right from my own garden.

Subscribe to this Blog!
To receive a notification whenever a new post is added, please provide your email address!
Do you enjoy this blog? Why not show your appreciation with a donation? Big or small, we are grateful for them all!
Find Us on YouTube!
Do You Shop at Amazon?
If you use this link to access the amazon website, we will earn a very small commission on anything that you purchase. (For amazon.ca, use this link first and then link through to the Canadian site from here.)
For information about upcoming workshops at Sunflower Farm please use the pull-down Workshop tab above. Hope to see you soon!
About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
Posts from the Past
Mother Earth News
Many of you found this blog through our writing on Mother Earth News. Use this link to subscribe to the magazine and I will receive a small commission, which helps me to pay for this site! Thanks! Here's the link to use; https://www.motherearthnews.com/store/Offer/EMEBGGAF