In the rolling hills of Sonoma County lies Green Valley Farm
that has a history as colorful as the specialty crop it grows. Blueberries
have been thriving on this farm in Sebastopol since 1942 thanks to a Wisconsin
woman who was a true-blue fan of this sweet and tart treat. Bruce Goetz,
the owner of Green Valley Farm, says, "I have to blame it on my grandmother
and my grandmother's name was Elizabeth. She had an idea that she would
like to have some blueberries when we moved here. Then my father, instead
of getting a couple of plants, ended up ordering 2,000 plants." The
rest is history, but it took time for Grandma Goetz to convince people
that her blueberry patch would be a success. That's because people told
her it wasn't cold enough in California to grow blueberries. However,
she proved them wrong and decades later the bushes she planted now produce
ten tons of blueberries a year.
Because blueberries ripen at different stages, each bush is gently handpicked
four to six times during harvest season in June and July. It's extremely
labor intensive and expensive especially when some unwelcome visitors
nibble on the berries. Birds are a big problem for blueberry farmers.
That's why a large net is in place to protect these valuable bushes.
Blueberries are not only full of flavor, they're packed with health benefits.
They're high in vitamin A, phytochemicals, and flavonoids. Researchers
at the University of Illinois have connected the antioxidant properties
of blueberry flavonoids with preventing certain types of cancer. In addition,
scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging
have found in animal studies that flavonoids reversed effects of conditions
such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
Now that we've tempted your tastebuds, here's a way to make blueberries
a part of your family's sweet summertime traditions.
Blueberry Pie Recipe (From Green Valley Farm)
1. 10" baked pie shell
Mix in saucepan: 3 cups blueberries
1/2 cube butter
4 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
Cook on the stovetop until the juice is released from
Add: 3 Tbs. flour
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
Mix these four ingredients together well and add to the first 3 ingredients.
Continue cooking until the mixture thickens (if necessary add a little
more flour). Remove from heat and let cool.
Add: 3 cups raw blueberries
Mix gently and pour into baked pie shell.
Serve plain, with whipped cream or ice cream.
For more information on Green Valley Farm, call (707) 887-7496. www.GreenValleyBerryFarm.com or via e-mail at info@GreenValleyBerryFarm.com