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Owner and History

 Rod  Havens is formerly a mental health therapist, and retired counselor at  Auburn High School.  He always had a love for farming.  He loves working  on and constantly improving BLUEBERRY HAVENS. He is committed to  learning and using the best natural farming practices to build the soil  of a sustainable small farm. His mission is to provide fresh, locally  grown food and a wholesome farm experience. His between-seasons used  bookstore adventure grows out of his love of books and to encourage  lifelong learning. 


Farm History

 

The  farm was established in 1980. It took over a year to build roads and a  bridge to cross the creek that flows through the farm. Built using  native stone, the home was finished in 1983. Rod didn't have a farming  background, but was keenly interested in organic gardening. Also  interested in health, nutrition, and well-being, he decided to combine  the land with his weekends and summers to experience the adventures of  farming. His undergraduate degree in Industrial Education has been  invaluable in building the farm and keeping the equipment running. A  small orchard of a variety of fruits were planted to see which grew the  best. Blueberries were by far the best and the harvest season  corresponds with summer vacation.

About  an acre was cleared by hand and prepared for planting. Approximately  500 three-year-old blueberry plants were purchased and planted in 1990.  The same year the record rainfall flooded the creeks and surrounding  land. Most of these were washed down the creek and the irrigation pipe  was a ruined, twisted mess. Fortunately, the "mother plants" were  unscathed, so thousands of blueberry bush "cuttings" were pruned from  the mother plants and propagated in a lean-to greenhouse. Several  thousand mature bushes were purchased and planted the following year.

The  next six years were productive with land preparation, propagating,  planting, fertilizing, installing irrigation, and maintaining the  previous years' bushes. The propagated plants were re-potted into one  gallon containers and planted in the fields (havens) over a couple of  years. A variety of one-year-old plants were purchased and repotted and  planted in subsequent years. Many plants were mulched with decomposed  bark carried in 5 gallon buckets. Eventually, a Weed badger, or  hydraulically driven cultivator, to spin out the weeds between the  bushes was purchased. Herbicides weren't necessary and diseases were  aerated, and the hand-spread cottonseed meal was incorporated into the  soil. Now we use an organic, OMRI approved, Neptune's Harvest, a hydrolized fish product.

Originally,  the plan was to have the blueberries harvested and sold wholesale.  Blueberry plants take about five or six years to bear substantial fruit.  We didn't have enough volume to do this at first, so we tried U-pick  and We-pick. We really liked the idea of sharing the fun, almost  addictive, experience of picking blueberries and enjoying summer harvest  with others. (Really, this is not a Tom Sawyer/fun to paint the fence  persuasive technique.) It's sort of like Henry David Thoreau's wood  warming him twice. Love to pick, love to eat, and it's healthy for body  and soul. We want you to enjoy our farm, like it was your farm. Many of  our customers have begun a family experience tradition of gathering,  preparing, and storing blueberries. Some comment on the joy of sharing  and savoring the pleasant summer memories as they eat the pies, muffins,  or frozen berries in the winter.

Now  we've stopped planting blueberry plants, perhaps temporarily, to focus  on growing, maintaining our bushes, marketing, and other farm  improvements.  We are growing and selling blueberry bushes;  the same varieties that produce the best tasting blueberries as we have at the farm.

Rod  has been shoveling sawdust out of semi-trailer vans to mulch the  blueberries.  Five or ten gallons of sawdust on each plant will hold  moisture and eventually add humus to enrich the soil.  Beats going to  the gym for exercise, but it's really dusty.  He wants to grow the best  quality blueberries for you!

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