Another Good Read About Living In Floyd County

The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family

Jim Minick is celebrating a new book this month with readings and signings throughout SW Virginia. I wish I was able to make it to one to hear his own interpretation of his words…I guess I’ll just have to catch them via a podcast from the local public radio station.

Jim and Sarah Minick pick an end of the road piece of land in Floyd County, Virginia to begin a dream on. With ninety acres and a dream they began to work toward fulfilling their desire for a way to make enough income from their patch of land to support their artistic inclinations. Like generations of others before them, they were drawn to this corner of Virginia by the low cost of land and a tolerance not often found in rural communities. After spending more than a decade growing a pick-your-own blueberry farm from dream to reality, Jim has written a memoir that reads like a love story. From the decision to clear a section of new growth forest to the choosing of the varieties, he walks us through the processes and the sweat he and Sarah put into each year’s crop. He introduces us to the people that inhabit that small field of bushes…Even if they are only their for a visit. The joys and the pains…Each are spoken of…each are loved. There is a pride in what they accomplished…And we share their joy.

But in the end…It had to end. The Minicks had to move on. The field was passed to another. I suppose we should be happy in a way because if Jim was still working the blueberry field there is a good chance we wouldn’t be reading about those years now…

Every time I read about the lives folks have made in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia I find myself envious of their good fortune to have discovered this area while young. My own discoveries are all of a more recent nature. There is a definite resonance I feel with these kindred souls who live and write from these hills and mountains. Even when it comes to blueberries…my first experience with the actual bushes, wild not domesticated, were on our first family trip to the mountains in 2003. The delight I felt as I stumbled upon that first bush in the edge of the woods…Realized what those little blue balls were…Picked those first few sweet berries and popped them in my mouth…That was when I realized I wasn’t in Texas anymore Toto…

This is not my first exposure to Jim’s writing. I first encountered a quote of his on Colleen’s Loose Leaf Notes back in 2006 which led me to purchasing his book Finding A Clear Path. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that book when it came in and ordered a copy of The Blueberry Years months before it was ready.

The book blurb from the publisher reads like this…”The Blueberry Years is a mouth-watering and delightful memoir based on Jim Minick’s trials and tribulations as an organic blueberry farmer. This story of one couple and one farm shows how our country’s appetite for cheap food affects how that food is grown, who does or does not grow it, and what happens to the land. But this memoir also calls attention to the fragile nature of our global food system and our nation’s ambivalence about what we eat and where it comes from.”
For me, reading The Blueberry Years was a lot like eating the berries themselves, I just didn’t want to stop once I started. I had to ration myself in order to prolong the pleasure. As it was I finished much to quickly. Do yourself a favor…Go read it yourself.

The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family

Take a milky dream of homesteading, stir in a background of blueberries, add a pinch of desire for community, and you’ll have a milkshake of the contents of “The Blueberry Years,” a memoir by Radford University writing professor Jim Minick. via Memoir harvests sweet, sour aspects of organic farm life –

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