"I Need Fresh Blueberries to Make a
Fifty-seven years ago, when Bruce Goetz's grandmother mentioned to her husband that she longed to have blueberries growing in her garden so she could make blueberry pie using home-grown berries, Bruce's grandfather went out and bought 2,000 blueberry plants for her -- just to make sure she'd never run out of blueberries! That also led to the establishment of the first blueberry farm in California.
|Since 1940, the Goetz family has been farming blueberries in Sebastopol, and Bruce is the third generation to run the 6-acre farm. In 1970, the Goetz family expanded the operation to include a commercial kitchen which is now used to make blueberry and wild blackberry jams, using their own berries, and also for processing fruit for other growers, including making other fruit jams, chutneys and mustards.|
Bruce's step-son, David Monk (pictured above), handles sales at the San Francisco Market as well as helping out with all the farm chores.
During the 1997 season, Green Valley Farm will be at San Francisco's Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market from the end of May, a few weeks earlier than usual, through mid-August. A ½ pint of berries costs $2.50. If you miss them at the Ferry Plaza market, you can visit them in Sebastopol and buy directly from the farm or catch them at the Corte Madera or Marin farmers' markets. Jars of their home-made blueberry jam and wild blackberry jam are also available for $3.00 each.
|Small, Intensely-Flavored Berries
In California, we've been conditioned to think that the best blueberries come from Oregon. The first thing many customers ask at the Green Valley stand is "Are these blueberries from California?" Most are surprised to learn from David that the acidic soil found in Sebastopol, similar to the type of soil rhododendrons like, and warm days with occasional coastal fog are ideal growing conditions for blueberries. Because the Green Valley's berry plants are quite mature and also because of the somewhat cool weather conditions, their berries are smaller than gumball-size you'll typically find the super markets from Oregon growers. But don't be turned off by the size -- bigger is not always better. These smaller berries have more intense flavor than the water-logged jumbos we're accustomed to seeing in the markets.
Need Some Berry Plants?
If you have the urge to follow in Bruce's grandfather's footsteps and to become a blueberry grower, you can buy plants directly from the farm. A few plants will make a nice hedge, as well as providing enough berries to make your own pies!
June 1997 (updated October 1998)
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