- FUN FEATURES
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It all started with land.
Cheshire resident Dave Benjamin knew he had two choices when it came to his local property: “I could have had a typical American lawn, or I could have made it (work) for me,” Benjamin explained.
He chose the latter.
Over the years, Benjamin’s yard has played host to a variety of fruits and vegetables — from peaches and apples to asparagus and swiss chard. “Too many people in their lives, they turn the key in the morning and drive to work, and they turn the key when they are coming home and they go inside,” Benjamin stated. “But, there is so much you can produce yourself, and it’s organic and wholesome.”
Benjamin has even made maple syrup on his property. His uncle, the president of the Connecticut Maple Syrup Association, gave Benjamin a bucket one day. He tapped one tree, and then another. Soon, he was making his own maple syrup.
Of course, the process of creating just two gallons of syrup demands 40 gallons of sap and then hours and hours of boiling and preparation, so Benjamin produces only a relatively small amount of the tasty treat. But not everything requires so much effort.
For instance, growing blueberries is “the easiest thing,” says Benjamin.
“You just need good soil and a lot of light. And a capacity for putting netting around it, because if the birds have any little hole, they will get in. Blueberries are effortless, trouble-free, and fool proof,” he insists.
As for upkeep, it requires “nothing, the plant does it all,” marvels Benjamin. And beyond the delicious berry, Benjamin points to another wonderful benefit of the plant.
“I started selling these plants for landscaping 20 years ago, not for the berries but for the fall color—fire-engine red. It’s stunning. Then, I realized these berries were good and I started getting into the berries, too. It’s a win-win.”
This is just Benjamin’s fourth year growing blueberries, and in that time the plants have quadrupled in size. Eventually, each plant should yield 15-20 pounds of blueberries, and Benjamin currently has 200 plants. He does acknowledge that, “distributing them is going to be a challenge.”
Benjamin originally decided to grow so many berries to “teach my son where food comes from. It doesn’t come from the store. It comes from your own backyard. And I want to teach him where money comes from. It doesn’t come from your pocket, it comes from your toil.” Today, Benjamin sells pints of berries at a roadside stand in front of his home.
Anyone can grow these berries, Benjamin insists. “Just go buy blueberry plants. A few from early, mid, and late season and you will have blueberries from June through September,” he states
As for the best part of his cultivation journey, Benjamin points to the comfort level he has with his food.
“I know where [my food] comes from,” says Benjamin, “and I know where it’s been. And I know I can pick it off the plant and eat it and not have to trust anyone but myself, because it’s never been treated with chemicals. There is something truly satisfying about growing your own stuff.”