Nestled at the end of a small country road sits The Sanctuary Blueberry Farm, a pick-your-own organic farm and the home of Tom Reed and his wife, Evangeline.
After living the “typical suburban life” for more than 30 years, Reed, a licensed foot and ankle surgeon and now author, decided it was time to exchange his surgical gloves for gardening gloves and move to the country. The couple made their home on a beautiful 70-acre farm in the heart of Montgomery County. Although the move was a big change for the Reed family, it was something they had dreamed about for decades.
Reed grew up with a love of gardening he learned from his father that he, in turn, shared with his own family years later. As Evangeline recalls, when they were raising their children, “He would teach them how to care for a garden and take them along on a Saturday morning run to the plant store in the spring,” she says. “They would love running between the rows at the nursery on a fresh early spring’s morn. When blueberry season came around, it was a tradition to take the family to the local pick-your-own farm and spend hours picking blueberries.” It was sweet memories like these that led them to plant their very own pick-your-own blueberry farm.
What started as a small garden quickly grew to more than 7,300 luscious, large, sweet blueberry plants grown using only organic farming practices. The use of only organic materials is a top priority for the Sanctuary Blueberry Farm.
“When we stray from what is naturally complementary to the plants, they tend to struggle,” Reed says. “When we are purposeful about nurturing the plants using natural growing techniques, the plants respond well to your efforts. It is harder to do, but it is well worth the effort.” This type of gardening not only offers significant health advantages to consumers but also makes for a fun and unique experience when they get to harvest their own berries.
“Picking blueberries is very popular, and most people know about the important health benefits of eating blueberries,” Reed says. “Montgomery is rapidly growing. People are moving out of the suburban neighborhoods and into this area to get some space and fresh air. Many people today are very health- conscious [and] search for places to get fresh produce, free of toxic chemicals. It seemed like the perfect place to start a blueberry farm. But it wasn’t that easy. Blueberry plants are a bit temperamental and not so easy to grow at home. They need just the right growing conditions to thrive. The soil in this area is somewhat alkaline, and blueberries need a more acidic soil environment. It was a real challenge to figure out how to do this organically, without the use of artificial fertilizers and their soil amendments. We learned a lot through this process and eventually figured it all out.”
The pick-your-own experience at the Sanctuary Blueberry Farm is family friendly, offering a fun and educational opportunity for folks of all ages. With blueberry season starting mid-May and lasting through the first week of July, it is an enjoyable, not to mention tasty, way to spend a summer day. After all, family togetherness and wellness are at the root of Sanctuary Blueberry Farm.
“We also offer healthy lifestyle classes at the farm and access points to healthy restaurants and other farms that are chemical-free,” Reed says.
Through their farm, the Reeds have given Montgomery County the opportunity to gather not only berries but family memories and hopefully the love of farming, all in one place.
The Sanctuary Blueberry Farm is open 7:30 a.m.–noon and 5 p.m.–sunset on weekdays so their guests can enjoy the cooler parts of the day. On weekends, it is open 7:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Please inquire before planning your trip by giving them a call or visiting their Facebook page.