Wild Blueberries: A Journey Through Time and Tradition In Maine

Wild Blueberries: A Journey Through Time and Tradition In Maine

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Hand raking wild blueberries in Northern Maine with the Passamaquoddy Tribe. (2022)

Mascha Davis

Guess what? The fresh blueberries you buy at the shop are not wild blueberries. My fascination with wild blueberries started as a kid when I stumbled upon them while roaming the woods. Unlike their cultivated cousins, real wild blueberries grow naturally without human intervention, flourishing in the severe environments of northern Maine and parts of Canada. Research reveals that they naturally grow in barrens developed by glaciers 10,000 years back. These berries spread underground through roots, forming thick, low bushes. They are smallersized and burst with extreme, nuanced tastes that make each bite special as it is scrumptious. If you’re curious about attempting them, you’re in luck! Blueberry season is upon us beginning late July.

In the summerseason of 2022, I was presented to the questions of the real wild blueberry— a serendipitous encounter that led me on a journey to northern Maine with the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. There, I had the advantage of hand raking wild blueberries togetherwith the Passamaquoddy. This experience deepened my gratitude for these durable berries and the individuals who haveactually valued them for generations. I spoke to Holli Francis, the item supervisor at Passamaquoddy Blueberries to get more insights into their abundant cultural heritage and unwavering dedication to sustainability. Here are 5 things to understand about wild blueberries and the voices who haveactually been stewarding the land for thousands of years.

Historical and Cultural Significance

For the Passamaquoddy individuals, wild blueberries are more than simply a source of nourishment; they are a foundation of cultural identity. “The Passamaquoddy method of life was to hunt, fish, trap, and collect food and medication, and use the environment’s natural resources to sustain their neighborhoods” Francis states. Historically, these berries were takenin alongwith plentiful seafood showing the people’s deep connection to their seaside environment. The name “Passamaquoddy” itself equates to “people who spear pollock,” highlighting their intimate relationship with nature. Wild blueberries were likewise utilized as a kind of medication, a practice now supported by clinical proof proving their high antioxidant and anthocyanin material. Additionally, these berries served as a color for sweetgrass utilized in basket weaving and other crafts, showcasing their diverse function in Passamaquoddy life.

A lot of mature wild blueberries. Wild blueberries have extreme blue pigmentation and an extreme … [+] blueberry taste. Shot on Canon EOS M50.

Chrissy Tracey

Sustainable Harvesting Practices

The Passamaquoddy Tribe has long utilized sustainable practices to makesure the durability of wild blueberry plants. Unlike conventional farming– where soil is disrupted– the people permits these sturdy plants to grow naturally in the rocky, dry barrens of Maine. Harvesting is done without planting, preserving the natural landscape. The people handles their 2,000 acres on a biennial cycle, gathering 1,000 acres each year to enable the plants to rest and regrow. Off-year burning of fields promotes regrowth and lowers pests, a practice that linesup with contemporary sustainable farming concepts.

Sacred Connection and Community Gathering

Every year, hundreds of Passamaquoddy individuals as well as other Wabanaki people of all ages collect to harvest, share, enhance and link with their neighborhoods– the yearly wild blueberry harvest is a spiritual custom. “It’s a brief harvest – simply 4 weeks – however it is crucial for lotsof tribal members to feel a connection to Earth’s bounty,” states Francis. During the harvest, they collect to hand-rake blueberries, a technique passed down through generations. I had the chance to shot it out and I can inform you first-hand that it definitely isn’t simple! It needs persistence, ability and strategy. Some competent pickers can fill up to 50 dogcrates of wild blueberries a day.

Passamaquoddy Tribe members teach the brand-new generation the ancestral practice of gathering wild … [+] blueberries.

Chrissy Tracey

At the end of the day, this occasion is more than simply a harvest; it is a time for neighborhood, connection, and cultural conservation. Despite historic difficulties and infringements, households come together to reinforce bonds and preserve customs, death it down for the next generations to come. The harvest represents durability and the sustaining strength of the Passamaquoddy culture. Like lotsof Indigenous people of North America, they haveactually dealtwith significant loss of their ancestral lands to colonization in addition to dealing with cultural suppression and financial challenges. “The wild blueberries stay strong. Families signupwith us at our barrens for a sense of neighborhood, connection and a sensation of centuries past.” states Francis.

Organizations such as the Wild Blueberry Association (WBA) have mostly focused Indigenous voices togetherwith their efforts to fund more researchstudy into the wild blueberries and beyond. As a result, they are making substantial strides when it comes to maintaining Indigenous understanding and motivating folks to consume wild and partnering with business like Wyman’s to get them into the hands of as numerous individuals as possible. This year, the WBA is hosting their 4th yearly Wild Blueberry Weekend where folks can trip wild blueberry farms, choice wild blueberries and findout all about the origins of the fruit. They’ve even partnered with locations such as the Bissell Brothers to spread the wild blueberry pleasure and understanding by offering menu products such as blueberry pie ice cream, or corn pudding with blueberry compote.

Traditional wild blueberry hand pies ready by a Passamaquoddy people member. (2022)

Chrissy Tracey

Economic Impact and Tribal Sustainability

Wild blueberries play a important financial function for the Passamaquoddy neighborhood as

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