It’s a great summer for Milton-Freewater’s Bluewind Berry Farm | Company

MILTON-FREEWATER – The first time Argentine-born Gabriel Alarcon ate a blueberry was at a local supermarket.

Heather and Gabriel Alarcon of Bluewind Berry Farm in Milton-Freewater.

He and his farming partner and wife, Heather Alarcon, had just invested equity and cash in planting rows of fruit on their property on County Road, which winds its way around the outskirts of town.

“I planted blueberries without knowing what a blueberry looks like,” said Gabriel Alarcon with a generous laugh.

“The first one I tasted was from Safeway, and I was so depressed I wanted to screw it up.”

U-pick blueberries

This year’s blueberry harvest is bountiful and delicious, say farmers Heather and Gabriel Alarcon.

That was 10 years ago, and if ever there was a summer to reward their perseverance, this is it.

This is the seventh harvest for Bluewind Berry Farm, and it’s a doozy. The berries, rounded to almost split, are sweet from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat.

“This year they are so heavy that the branches are on the ground,” said Gabriel Alarcon.

The couple, parents of three boys aged 28 to 17, have been married for 30 years and have embarked on various adventures.

“I was 19. We met when I was 15, and he was 17. I went to boarding school in Argentina,” Heather Alarcon said.

“Actually, my roommate was interested in his roommate, and they set us up on a double date.”

She was there as part of a family tradition. His father, Ole Oleson, a longtime Adventist pastor, embarked on his own quest abroad when he was 16 years old. So when her teenager wanted to follow good friends to their home country and go to school there, parental resistance was easily overcome. , said Heather Alarcon.

Such a trip gave the Alarcons an appreciation for The American wine-growing area of ​​the Rochers district — what the soil does here for the wine, it does for the blueberries, said Gabriel Alarcon.

The accumulation of sediment trapped by the hills surrounding Milton-Freewater provides ideal rocky ground for giving unusual character to wine grapes, he said.

“There are only two places on earth like that: here and in France. It is good drainage for the berries and the minerals are good for their flavor.

U-pick blueberries

Nelly Ochoa, left, waits for Bluewind Berry Farm owner Heather Alarcon to weigh her freshly picked berries, Thursday, July 15, 2022.

Terri Deleon and Nelly Ochoa seem to agree. On Thursday, July 15, the two friends were picking as fast as they could in the pick-your-own operation, undeterred by a mercilessly beating evening sun.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” Deleon said. “I choose mainly for desserts, my blueberry bread and my jam.”

Ochoa, who would muster over 8 pounds of juicy goodness, gave a knowing nod. “My blueberry salad,” she says. “It’s good.”

U-pick blueberries

An inflatable scarecrow waves and shouts a warning to winged berry thieves at customers Nelly Ochoa, left, and Terri Deleon at Bluewind Berry Farm outside Milton-Freewater on Thursday, July 15, 2022.

This year, the fruit is $4 a pound at pick-your-own prices, and most people come to harvest large quantities to freeze, Heather Alarcon said, noting that there are about two weeks left in this season.

The company also sells sorted and prepackaged blueberries.

Bluewind Berry Farm grows Duke and Chandler blueberries, chosen for their pollination compatibility.

According to World Fresh Exports Inc., the Chandler berry is known for its sweet and exceptionally large fruit, while the Duke is an early ripening variety and “a retailer favorite for its sweet flavor, large berry size and firmness. “.

The varieties occupy 2 of the nearly 10 acres owned by the Alarcons.

U-pick blueberries

Gabriel Alarcon and his wife, Heather Alarcon, own Bluewind Berry Farm outside of Milton-Freewater.

The hope and plan is to grow more. Gabriel Alarcon has just ended his trucking business and plans to devote his working hours to farming, he said.

That said, their sons aren’t necessarily interested in growing fruit, conceded Heather Alarcon.

“In fact, the eldest told us from the start that it was a bad idea. But he’s helping me today.

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