“I’m a third-generation blueberry grower, with my mother before me, and her father before that,” says David. “We’ve been growing blueberries on this farm since 1949; my grandfather actually introduced the first blueberry to the UK full stop. He was one of four who responded to an advert offering four free blueberry plants from British Columbia, and the only one who made it work commercially.”
“Even up to the 1990s, we were the only ones growing them in the UK – that was before the health benefits around antioxidants became known and it really took off. A blueberry bush can be left in the ground for a very long time; we’re still cultivating the same ones we had in the 60s.”
It’s no wonder they’ve stayed on the same farm for so long, when it’s in such a stunning natural area. These organic blueberries grow about ten miles from the Dorset coast, next to Ferndown Commons, a Site of Scientific Interest. There are slow-worms, sand lizards, nightjars, and all kinds of flora and fauna.
“I love seeing the blueberries start to turn blue,” David says. “It starts with one or two, and then boom, in a week’s time there will be masses.”
“Here we grow the early season variety Duke, main season varieties Blue Crop, Blueray and Berkeley, and we’re trialling some new ones that have very large and very firm fruit. Older varieties tend to be a little softer, which I prefer, but the fashion now is for a real crunch.”