Go Blueberry Picking at Trace View Farms in Sante Fe, TN
If you go blueberry picking at Trace View Farm, don't forget your belt. I found this out when proprietor, Bernie Ellis, tied a string around my waist to hold a 2-gallon plastic bucket. Having two hands available to get the blueberries off their branches is most helpful.
It was 10 AM the day before the Fourth of July and my friend Kim and I were on a crusade for buckets of fresh-picked berries for pie. Kim had been to Trace View numerous times, as Bernie was a friend. The drive there, about 24 miles from the city center, is breakthtaking. We took Old Hillsboro Road through farm land of rolling white picket fences and old barns, not to mention the quaint town of Leiper's Fork.
Bernie is a retired epidemiologist. Back in the Carter administration he ran an anti-tobacco program. In the process, he reasearched alternative crops for the tobacco farmers and came up with berries. He bought his farm—150 acres of beauty—in Santa Fe, in 1969, almost 50 years ago. Today, he has 12 varieties of berries, including the three that we were picking: Climax, Premier and TifBlue. We traipsed out to the fields with the buckets around our waists and started picking, rolling the clumps of berries between our thumb and fingers, as instructed by Bernie, allowing the ripe ones to drop into our buckets, leaving the green unripe berries behind. "The more you pick, the more berries the bush will produce," said Bernie, who is professorial in his knowledge of the randy bushes. "The average life of a blueberry bush is 50 years. But global warning has accelerated the harvest. This year's season started three weeks before last year's. But this year the weather has been good and the blueberry crop is a bonanza, lasting well into late August. The Powderblues come in in August, and they're the sweetest and biggest of all the varieties." said Bernie.
If you go picking at Trace View, call and make an appointment, so that Bernie will meet you at the farm. It's not well marked; in fact, a painted blue wooden square is the only sign by the driveway. Once you get there you will be well rewarded with bushes fat with berries, and of course, the blueberry professor himself.