How many blueberries would it take to feed Hampshire College for a year? This was the question campus farmer Nancy Hanson asked dining service general manager Jim Lachance last July. Farmer Nancy proposed to take her hard working crew of student farmers out of the campus vegetable fields and up to the blueberry barrens of the Berkshires to pick enough berries to supply the dining for the entire school year. According to Jim’s purchasing records, they decided that 600 pounds would be more than enough to freeze and preserve for blueberry crisp, blueberry pancakes, blueberry sauce, blueberry bars, and countless blueberry delights for the fall and spring semesters. It took nearly 10 hours for Hampshire’s student farm crew to harvest and sort 600 pounds of berries last summer, but the reward was certainly sweet»
Building upon the success of last summer, Farmer Nancy coordinated with Jim to pick 600 pounds of strawberries at Warner Farm in Sunderland earlier this summer. But when she proposed the second annual blueberry picking trip, Jim ambitiously doubled his demand to 1200 pounds! Could it be done?
On Tuesday, the staff and students from the Hampshire Farm followed winding washboard roads all the way up to the Benson Place, high in the Berkshires. These 9 intrepid harvesters worked under a hot sun all morning, scooping and shaking with metal rakes to gather the blueberries from the low bushes that cover the hilltop. In order to meet the daunting order, the staff of the Benson Place picked half of the 1200 pounds in advance and everyone worked together to sort the berries using winnowing machines in the afternoon.
By 5pm, all of the berries were picked, sorted, and packed and heading down the hill, bound for the campus dining hall where kitchen staff ushered them straight into a deep freeze, preserving them for use throughout the year. Not a single blueberry will need to be shipped from Chile, Argentina, Mexico, or California to feed our campus. Thanks to the farm crew for yet another impressive effort supporting Hampshire’s commitment to source as much food as possible from local farms!