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Knoll Acre Blueberries: A Sustainable Organic Production Project

Knoll Acres Blueberries: An Organically Certified Operation

Knoll Acres is a small farm about 4 miles west of Harrisonburg, Virginia (USA).  Establishing a small commercial, sustainable, organic blueberry operation is a major project goal during the next two years.  This website describes various aspects of this project as well as notes our successes and failures in accomplishing our goal.

Organic Certification for Knoll Acres Blueberries

Our blueberry operation is certified organic by Global Organic Alliance (GOA).  Actually we have a "split operation" that consists of organically certified plots and a smaller conventional plot (not organic).  We are pleased with our relationship with GOA and are grateful to be a part of this organization that promotes organic production. 

Information about GOA can be found here:  GOA Online

GOA Logo

The USDA website that describes the National Organic Program can be found here:  USDA NOP:

USDA Organic Logo

If you are interested in what it means to say that a product is organically certified, read this information: Organic Labelling


Announcing!!!!

An Organic and Sustainable Blueberry and Brambleberry Growers Conference

October 21 & 22, 2013
at
Eastern Mennonite University, Suter Science Center,
Harrisonburg, Virginia

Program Topics include...

  • Organic Blueberry Horticulture: Challenges and Choices

  • Nurturing a Healthy and Vibrant Soil for Organic Berry Production

  • Berry Plant Physiology: Foliar Analysis and Interpretation

  • Organic Certification: Transitioning from Conventional to Organic Production

  • Integrated Pest Management for Organic Berries

  • Growing a Nutrient-Dense Berry: Practical Considerations

  • Basics of Organic Blueberry/Brambleberry Production

  • Roundtable Discussion on Lessons Learned in Berry Production

  • Optional: Guided Field Visits to Regional Berry Producer Sites

  • Commercial and Educational Exhibits

Confirmed Resource Speakers include...

  • Dr. William Sciarappa, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, NJ
  • Dr. Amy Howell, Research Scientist, Rutgers Marucci Blueberry & Cranberry Research Center
  • Dr. Allen Straw, Horticultural Specialist, Virginia Tech Extension, Blacksburg, VA
  • Dr. Douglas Pfeiffer, Professor of Entomology, Virginia Tech
  • and others...


Registration opens February 1, 2013.  Watch for further information on this website: EMU Organic Berry Conference

Conference Sponsors

  • Eastern Mennonite University, Departments of Biology and Chemistry
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • Virginia Association of Biological Farming
  • EMU's Suter Science Endowment in Biology
  • USDA Specialty Crop Grant #2011-546


Organic and Sustainable  Blueberry Horticulture

A major portion of our project is to create conditions for organic blueberries and to ensure their economic viability by using sustainable approaches.  Sustainability involves among other things using resources that are readily available and creating conditions that maintain the vitality and productivity of the blueberries.

USDA Crop Specialty Grant: #2011-546

Sustaining Organic Blueberry Production: Analysis of Practices and Assessing Outcomes

This project proposal further develops a model system of quantifying sustainable organic blueberry production as a specialty crop in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by building on a prior project that focused on creating conditions for an organic blueberry operation at Knoll Acres.  By integrating academic discovery through collaborative research experiences of faculty and undergraduate students from Eastern Mennonite University, this project seeks to document best organic agricultural practices that enhance sustainable profitable blueberry production.  Optimal blueberry growth will be determined via foliar analyses of plant nutrients, plant vigor characteristics—growth measurements, photosynthesis and respiration, and ultimately through the quality and quantity of produced berries.  Cost-benefit of organic versus conventional blueberry production on this small commercial scale will be assessed.  An economically sustainable organic blueberry production model system will motivate area farmers, looking to diversity their current agricultural systems. Project participants will communicate the benefits and best practices of organic blueberry production to a larger audience through a website, varied publications, and presentations.  Area farmers and horticulturalists will be informed and motivated via a planned March 2013 [now October 2013] regional mini-conference on “organic horticulture” hosted at the university and co-sponsored by area agricultural extension agents and Virginia Association for Biological Farming.

  • Recently, I received a small grant from the USDA  to assist in the development of this blueberry project. The grant extends from November  2011 through October 2013.
  • The grant provides support for selected undergraduate students from Eastern Mennonite University to participate also in this project and gain research experience in blueberry horticulture as a result.


DukeRipeFruit_06112011

Ripening Duke Blueberries at Knoll Acres
June 6, 2011


RobertFrost

Blueberries
by Robert Frost

"You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson's pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!".....
"Does Mortenson know what he has, do you think?"
"He may and not care and so leave the chewink
To gather them for him--you know what he is.
He won't make the fact that they're rightfully his
An excuse for keeping us other folk out."
......
"We'll pick in the Mortensons' pasture this year.
We'll go in the morning, that is, if it's clear
And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet.
......
You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain,
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves,
Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves."