CATHCART - John and Janine Weststrate are marking their first year of owning The Blueberry Patch with a festival this month "I was just thinking of something we could do that would encourage people to come out and see what our farm is about," said John.
CATHCART John and Janine Weststrate are marking their first year of owning The Blueberry Patch with a festival this month
“I was just thinking of something we could do that would encourage people to come out and see what our farm is about,” said John.
The 4.5-acre farm is on Highway 53, west of Cathcart. The couple, who have a one-year-old son, Sam, took over the operation last year from Donna Baron and Mike Tout, who had run it for more than a decade.
The festival will take place July 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors can enjoy wagon rides, a bouncy castle and a scavenger hunt. There also will be a chance to pick your own berries.
This year has been wetter and colder than usual, causing some delays with the berries. Blueberries need hot and humid weather to grow properly.
“Some of the other farmers in the area have said their crops are about two weeks behind,” said Janine.
When the blueberries are ready, the farm will be open for people to pick their own. The Weststrates also will take orders and sell their berries at local markets.
Helping the couple is niece Kaitlynn Van Moren, 13, who also will be in charge of the scavenger hunt at the festival.
“Kaitlynn will be my go-to girl in the shop and taking care of Sam,” said Janine.
The couple also plans to sell pastries baked by Van Moren.
“I might be making blueberry tarts,” she said.
The couple noted that one part of the patch is not doing well so, it may be the site next year for planting a new type of fruit, called a haskap berry, which grows easily in the Ontario climate, said John.
“It’s a mix between a blueberry and a raspberry,” he said. “It’s something different and unique.”
Blueberry season lasts for about five weeks but running the farm is a year-round job. Fall means applying fertilizer and clearing weeds from under the bushes. By January, the bushes need to be cut down to grow better by spring. In the spring, there is more fertilizer. And, throughout summer, weeds must be cleared.
John is an accountant and Janine works at Rehoboth Christian School in Copetown.
“For us the blueberry farm is a hobby,” said Janine.
“It was something we saw for our future.”