The people that feed you- Blumenberry Farms!
When Mitch and Colleen Blumenthal moved from Miami to Sarasota in 1990, they bought a small home with a beautiful lake view out back, perfect for starting a family. At sunset, the egrets and cormorants would fly in and settle into the surrounding greenery. The view was to the west, so the sunset provided a splash of orange and red each night to close the day. Before long, two sons were born and brought into the cozy home on the lake’s edge.
Mitch started tinkering around the yard. He met a man from Jamaica who told him to put a dead fish in the hole where he wanted to plant a banana tree. The small pup took off like a rocket. He added a few more fruit trees and some other plants, discovered he had a green thumb, and over a five year period, the view of the lake became more and more elusive as the jungle of tropical fruits and ginger plants grew thicker. Before it disappeared altogether, Colleen suggested they take a ride to a local organic blueberry farm that had just gone on the market.
The fifteen serene acres rested out east of the suburbs, where the occasional bobcat still passes through the brush at night. It was peaceful and the bushes were laden with plump, juicy, certified organic blueberries. Run by a Mennonite family, the farmstead was immaculate and had plenty of room for growth. In fact, it had room for a future homestead. It was the perfect slice of paradise. The For Sale sign had a SOLD sticker plastered over it shortly thereafter and the rest is history.
Mitch’s first major “learning experience” as a farmer was observing that an entire blueberry crop can be decimated by a migration of Cedar Waxwings, despite all efforts to deter them. Nets, cannons, and even buckshot could not stop the onslaught.
In some ways, this was a blessing. The birds, in their determined and successful efforts to consume the lush organic blueberries, led to crop diversification.
Fast forward to 2017, and Blumenberry Farms is a homestead for the Blumenthal family. The family’s two sons, now in college, grew up among the fields of organic blackberries, Bull’s Blood Beets, Easter Egg and Watermelon radishes, turnips, and other delights. Currently, the farm offers tangy passion fruit, fragrant herbs, crispy snow peas, cranberry hibiscus with its lovely pink blossom, fennel and turmeric root, papaya, rainbow carrots, and plenty more based on the gentle shifts of the long Florida growing season. There are hoop houses in addition to the open fields. Mitch has always enjoyed growing heirloom vegetables and other unusual items preferred by chefs and foodies. In addition to his crops, the farm quacks and clucks as you turn off the dirt road and go through the gate past the bee hives. You’ll soon see flocks of free range Peking Ducks and a variety of chickens, all of whom provide nutrient dense eggs for local customers.
In his standard uniform of a tie dye t-shirt, blue jeans and Birkenstocks, Blumenthal can look across his property with satisfaction. With plenty of help from his talented wife, he can take quick visual stock of their accomplishments. Home built, kids raised, crops harvested; life is good.