One of the more interesting decisions I’ve made was buying into the blueberry farm. It came about “innocently” enough. My brother and father conspired to pitch an investment opportunity in the form of blueberries.
From Email to Farm
It was 2006 and I was reaping the benefits of the email business I started with a partner back in 2002. We, of course, starved and scrambled to find work for the first two years, but then something hit. One of our clients, a good friend from before the bubble burst, got us pointed at an email platform. We built it, and then managed to find another client who needed one. So we licensed it, and so began our email business.
By 2006 the business was humming along. We had several clients and were expanding into other opportunities. There was a substantial surplus of cash that we opted to take out of the business. This allowed me to pursue other ventures, like farming. Internet technology and farming go hand in hand, right?
Long Term Investment
I talked over the opportunity with my wife and she was up for it. We became financiers of a blueberry farm called O’Berry. We started with two or three acres in 2007. That expanded to 10 acres in 2008. Did you know that it takes up to five years for berry bushes to mature? It’s a fact. This farming business was not a short-term investment. An Audi R8 is a short-term investment. We gave that up and a bit more before we had 10 acres, a well, two or three tractors, a shop, drip irrigation, a four-wheeler and a bunch of other stuff that farms need.
Harvest takes place in the middle of summer, usually it lasts through July. This year’s harvest is just about over. It came a little earlier than normal. The spring has the most impact on when the harvest will begin and how condensed it will be. We haven’t quite figured out the pattern yet.
New This Year
New on the farm in 2014 was a drone quad-copter that we used to chase the starlings away. We still have to fly it manually, but next year we’ll make it completely autonomous. Also new since last harvest are seven additional planted acres. These aren’t harvest-able yet, but in a few years we’ll start picking.
We’ve harvested about 88,000 pounds this year, with at least one more picking left. That will put us over last year’s yield, but not quite as high as I’d like. I’m aiming for 200,000 pounds per 10 acres. Getting there is not up to me, it’s up to the plants. Go plants!
I’m glad I decided to do something interesting with the surplus of cash that I had at the time. As you can see, talking about a blueberry farm is more fascinating than talking about an Audi R8. As a bonus, I don’t feel like a douche when I talk about my farm. I think I might get that “fresh” feeling if I were talking about an R8. Still, someday I’d like to put that theory to the test.