Walking through the fields at the farm, there was a faint
scent of blueberry blossoms mixed with the smell of citrus
from several other farms in the historic plantation area.
Jerod works with the H2-A temporary agricultural
program to bring pickers in during the peak season, which
is February through May. On a typical day, there are
between 30 and 50 pickers on the farm.
"We couldn't do it
without these guys,"
"We pay a premium to
bring them here, and
at the end of the day,
they're just doing
what we're doing --
trying to earn enough
to be able to support
H2A workers are shown
picking blueberries at
Down South Blues farm.
The berries all ripen in different stages and each bush is
picked a couple of times each week. It depends on the
temperatures and how much it rains. The same bush will
produce ripe berries for several months.
Although his work has its challenges, Jerod said he enjoys
spending time outside every day and being a good steward
of the land.
"We try to do everything we can to provide a safe,
healthy commodity for consumers," he said. "I have a 6-
year-old and an 11-year-old who run around out here and
eat fruit – I wouldn't put anything out here that could hurt
them, and I wouldn't do it to anybody else."
In the early season, which usually starts in March, the
blueberries are picked, weighed and placed into 6-ounce
28GASPARILLA ISLAND May/June 2018