Springtime Berry Pickin’

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.  ~Margaret Atwood

I was lucky enough to get to visit Gizdich Ranch for work on Wednesday to pick berries and eat a lot of pie (I was too focused on my slice to even take a photo).

My coworkers and I got out into the fields to pick boysenberries and ollaliberries.

Talking to Vince, the third generation owner/operator of the farm, was also an enlightening experience. He was the sweetest man, and I sort of wanted to adopt him as my grandpa. He shared a lot with us about the ranch operations and the his background story.

The farm is not organic, but they do use a limited number of insecticides. The best part was that Vince didn’t shy away from the question; he explained exactly which insects he had to fight to stay in production and which chemicals he used to combat them. The farm sprays the plants only when they are young, before they bud, so they are never spraying the fruit directly.

The honesty of the conversation was proof that Gizdich is a small, family owned farm. Large scale producers rarely want to tell you which chemicals they use and why. We also chatted about how few small scale farmers there are these days, and how that’s changed the landscape of agriculture.

The organic vs. non organic question is another reason why talking to your local farmer is so important. Perhaps they can’t afford the certified organic label, but they might still implement sustainable practices, or might be moving toward the organic label. Without having that conversation, it’s impossible to know. I know I was a bit intimidated to talk and ask questions to Vince, but he was so happy to share. My guess is other farmers are too.

Visiting Gizdich made me want to visit other farms and ranches in the area for tours, chatting, and hopefully more pie!

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.  ~Ruth Stout

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