The cold and wet past six weeks we’ve just had has got local tomato growers wondering if their fruit will ever ripen.

On the flip side after years of hard brown dried inedible fruit this is the best wild blackberry season we’ve had in Fish Creek for five summers.

I’m not sure why blackberry picking lights people up – maybe it’s in our hunter-gatherer DNA, maybe it’s the thrill of a truly free feed – whatever it is blackberry picking gets people giddy. 

With our sons and our dog we wander down the hill through the long grass looking out for snakes as we go.

The blackberry patch covers an old slip at the bottom – protecting exposed earth as is their habit.

Just up the hill our dog lays herself in the long grass and watches us go to work.

Our eyes slowly become attuned; shiny black fruit pokes out from under leaves and suddenly bing, bing, bing ripe berries are seemingly everywhere.

Excited shouts of, “Check out all these ones over here!” and “Oh my God this is the mother lode!” ring out.

It’s funny how disinterested our boys are in harvesting zucchini or tomatoes at home – their lego and Xbox are considered far superior options. 

Blackberry picking however, is different – we’re all fully focused, finding our way amongst the thorns, picking faster and faster, proudly showing off large black handfuls.

When the big plastic bowl is finally full we trudge back up the hill, willy-wagtails in tow, talking blackberry pies, tarts and smoothies.  

And as we walk I know our boys aren’t consciously hearing the birds or seeing the new growth on the spotted gums but I do know these sounds and sights are being bedded down somewhere deep inside.

That night we take our blackberries with some vanilla ice cream next door for a pot luck with our old friends where they’re gobbled down with great gusto and gratitude.

Later when I think about our day I wonder if the things our sons learn gathering berries – lessons about seasons, plants, birds, about working together, sharing food and strengthening friendships will be the lessons that really matter.

Over the years I’ve written lots about Jenny Indian and Steve Routledge’s chestnuts and quinces and the joys and challenges of life on their farm in Stanley.

Now in their mid ’60’s Jenny and Steve are reluctantly seeking a buyer for their place. 

Here’s what Jenny wrote….

It’s been thirty years and we love the place – both our children grew up here but they’re busy elsewhere now so we’re looking to sell to like-minded folk.

Our place has always been organically farmed (it was certified but we’ve let that lapse though the growing regime remains the same).

We’re self-sufficient in most things, masses of water via a bore plus tanks, lots of solar which we sell back to the grid, a wonderfully indulgent swimming pool and an established garden full of interesting plants and deciduous shade including a much loved Oak collection of some 40 species.

We sell chestnuts, quinces and (almost ready) feijoas to CERES Fair Food and also run Garden Cottage Stanley (gardencottagestanley.com) which is much loved by many returning guests so is a great income sideline.

Our house is very comfortable – 4/5 bedrooms, double glazed and so is cosy in winter and cool over summer.

When we began developing the property my vision was to provide produce for the family,shade and habitat – we have achieved this and now wish to pass it on to someone who also values these things.

I think the main proviso would be ‘must love trees’!

Jenny’s contact is  – jindian@westnet.com.au

You can see Jenny and Steve’s farm listed here

Have a great week

Chris

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