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PHOTO ESSAY: BLUEBERRIES AND FIRE ON PEI

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A group of us spent a much-too-brief two days on beautiful Prince Edward Island in early June, to learn about wild blueberries with Wyman’s of Maine.

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Our first evening, we toured the gardens at Inn of Bay Fortune, a delightful inn on the far eastern edge of the island who hosted us for our stay.

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This is the daughter of Jeff and Carey Wood, the husband-and-wife farm team who manage the crops. We plucked a selection of herbs and greens, like sorrel and edible flowers, to toss with our salad.

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This amazing woman is the sommelier at the FireWorks, the intensely fire-inspired restaurant where we ate many of our meals. She showed us how to saber a bottle of sparkling wine. She is a total badass.

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Being a nerdy lover of the west coast’s wild huckleberries, I was all over east coast wild blueberries. They are related, not only in that they are both of the vaccinium family, but also in that they can’t really be cultivated. I had no idea how a non-cultivatable crop could become a commercial venture. What I learned is that a forest where blueberry bushes grow is cleared of tall trees whose shade keeps them in check, so that it becomes a field where blueberries dominate. Some other smaller flowering plants are kept in the field, as they are loved by bees and bees are an essential component in the success of a blueberry crop. We forget how essential bees are to all of our cultivated produce – but without bees to pollinate our fruits and veggies, we’d have no fruits and veggies.

 

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Peter Dillon is Wyman’s beekeeper on PEI. He has spent his life cultivating the slow craft of understanding the behavior and nuance of bees, and I loved learning from him. The topic of Monsanto and pesticides was a little danced around – they use Round-up – but he did make clear many times that he’d prefer less pesticide use than more. Wyman’s is participating in a fair amount of research into sustaining healthy bee populations, which is awesome. You can read more about that here.

 

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Then we donned bee suits and went deep into the blueberry fields to learn more about bees. Turns out that bees are so focused on doing their work – it is a busy life for those little dudes – that our protective gear seemed more of a protection against the aggressive onslaught of biting flies and mosquitoes than anything else.

 

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It was really delightful to spend a warm, sunny afternoon deep in the fields, with the loud buzzing of bees in the air, and the privilege of a look into their focused lives. Peter said the most important thing to remember with bees is to be curious, and not scared. Good advice for life, generally.

 

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And then we had one final, epic meal, with the charismatic, charmingly rakish Michael Smith, at his restaurant, FireWorks. We feasted in the garden on oysters – with a surprisingly tasty, tart blueberry mignonette – imbibed more blueberry-centric drinks, and moved to the front fire pit where burgers (and lentil burgers) were cooked over a lively, hot fire.

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The evening was finished with s’mores. The gluten-free folks in our group got chocolate “dirt” instead of a housemade graham cracker – and oh em gee, this was the best s’mores of my life.  The marshmallows were blueberry-studded, homemade marvels, and we toasted (erm, charred) them over the fire with glee.

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Some of the lovely, quirky details around the Inn at Bay Fortune Property.

 

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Happiest wet dog ever! Loved this big, friendly fella, even though he greeted me with the muddiest of paws. Good thing I was well-covered in rain gear.

Thank you so much, Wyman’s, Inn at Bay Fortune, and the ladies at Connelly Partners, for so graciously hosting us! I only wish I’d had more time to explore.

  • Genevive - Beautiful pictures!!

    xx Genevive
    ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Farley - Beautiful photos! I am so thrilled that we got the chance to meet and spend time getting to know each other. I hope our paths cross again down the road :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Rodriguez - I want that s’more situation in my mouth. Beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

  • Amy | The Whole Food Rainbow - Such an interesting post! I loved it thanks so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Smith - Oh my, the pictures are gorgeous! Which I had this eye you have for it. Please keep sharing posts like this, I love them. Loving the blog!ReplyCancel

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