Monday, August 17, 2015

August 16, 2015

It is the time of great bounty in New England.  Whether you favor fresh corn, local tomatoes, or any of the other great produce you can get from Moulton Farm, Picnic Rock, or your own garden, hopefully you are enjoying nature's fruits.  All of these cultivated plants have their roots in wild plants indigenous to some location and an era long ago.   I recently heard a report on the history of blueberries, and learned that the cultivated blueberry has its origins right here in New Hampshire (You can read the story here).  In 1910, Frederick Coville had been doing research in New Hampshire on blueberries, and it caught the attention of Elizabeth Coleman White who offered to pay the USDA to do more research at her farm in New Jersey - and the offer was accepted.  She asked her friends and neighbors to collect the very best specimens they could find, and the research began.

Over the years they propagated various plants (named them after the people that brought them to her farm) developing the best of each plant.  It is these plants that were later brought to all corners of the world, further developed by others, and created an enormous new market - the blueberry market has tripled in the past decade alone.  All the blueberries we buy in the market, whether from New Jersey, California, or even Chile, they all trace their start to New Hampshire!  But none of them taste as good as our own wild blueberries that grow on the shores our lakes and the ledges of our mountains.

We love these delectable treats, though many others rely on them and other berries for their existence.  Birds come immediately to mind, but even animals as large as the black bear use them to build their winter fat stores.  Here's a large pile of bear scat left behind in blueberry patch beside the lake.

Black Bear Scat
Sadly, the blueberry season is just about over now, but many other fruit bearing plants are taking their place to sustain our wildlife, including huckleberry, bunchberry, winterberry, cherry.

Black Cherry
Hobblebush Viburnum
Did you happen to notice the fruit tree in Child's Park in Meredith Center?  It looks like a pear tree to me.
Pear Tree?  Meredith Center
For a completely different variety of red fruit you might see on the lake, keep your eye out for this vessel plying the waters of Lake Wicwas:

You might think you've been transported to Casco Bay, but no, you may see this right here on Lake Wicwas.   And it will provide a great service, helping with water testing, loon protection, and lake conservation.  We will miss the steamboat "Lake Wicwas" but this is a worthy replacement!  Be sure to wave if you see it go by - maybe you'll get a toot!

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