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Brown's Beautiful Blueberries | Harvesting Plan B

Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries | Harvesting Plan B
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Beating a path to Brown's Beautiful Blueberries
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Beating a path to Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries

They appear the same time as the chicory blooms by the roadside: signs for Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries.

They’re tiny picket signs, hand-painted with an emblem of the fruit and an arrow -– this is how so many pickers find their way over to Arnold Brown’s back hillside.

Entrance to Brown's Beautiful Blueberries
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Entrance to Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries

This morning I packed some pails into the car, and, as I have for the past ten summers, followed pictures of blueberries from the paved straightaway of Route 14 onto the dirt road snaking through Collinsville and then right up Coburn Hill.

From late July to Labor Day, foodies, families, friends, and blueberry-o-philes, from all over the county and across town, pull into the Brown’s gravel drive, sign the guest log, grab a bucket and head out to the south facing hillside teeming with hundreds of mature berry bushes. Last year, a light year, pickers took a total of 15,000 pounds of berries home. The year before they hauled out ten tons!

I joke that Phil Lovely, Arnold Brown’s son-in-law, the master of berrymonies, should weigh me before I pick and then after—as I’ll easily sport an extra pound by the time I’ve totaled my buckets and paid for my external share of berries.

Master of Berrimonies, Phil Lovely presides on the porch greeting newcomers with buckets.
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Master of Berrymonies, Phil Lovely presides on the porch greeting newcomers with buckets.

By noon the Brown’s hillside is abuzz and I can hear snippets of heart-to-heart conversations, “Well, I’m just not sure what to make of that news,” and hear kids calling out to Moms, “I found a Big One!” –voices carry easily across the hill. One time while berrying with a hilarious friend, another friend, coincidentally gathering a few rows over discovered my presence, “Julia, I just knew that was your laugh.”

Beautiful Blueberries
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Beautiful Blueberries

Truth is: none of us would have discovered anything, and our muffins and freezers would be bereft of bluberries if not for an overeager man with a tractor mower.  Back in the 1990s Arnold had just planted this hillside with 7500 Christmas tree saplings.  All was proceeding according to plan until the man hired to cut the east field assumed “Well, Arnold would probably like me to mow the other field as well, he just forgot to ask me.”

Blue with a view
Photo/Art by Julia Shipley
Blue with a view

So, here we are with our buckets, gossiping across the bushes, harvesting Plan B.





Julia Shipley


Julia Shipley


Contributing editor, Julia Shipley's stories celebrate New Englanders' enduring connection to place. She digs up facts and stats for each issue's "By The Numbers" feature; she's also the author of Yankee's "Vermont Rural Life" blog, as well the Yankee Plus column, "The Farmer's Life." An award winning poet, her long-form lyric essay, Adam's Mark was selected as one of the Boston Globe's Best New England Books of 2014.
Updated Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

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3 Responses to Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries | Harvesting Plan B

  1. Brie DeGruttola August 1, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    It would’ve been nice if the writer and the editors noticed there was no address listed, so that people would know where this is…

  2. Julia August 1, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Hi Brie,

    You’re right!

    This blue- fruit oasis is in Craftsbury, Vermont. And the Blueberry hotline (to make sure they’re open the day you want to go picking) (and for more explicit directions) is 802 586- 2202.

    Tell them “Giggles” Shipley sent you.

  3. Barbara Boudreau August 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    The website for the farm is The blueberries are awesome!

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