To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
Brightside Acres is located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest. At 4,000 feet and miles from a paved road, it’s a place where electricity comes from the sun and water from a spring. A place where days are filled with the cries of pileated woodpeckers and red-tailed hawks and nights with the songs of owls and coyotes. A place where the seasons have distinct personalities, colors, scents, and flavors.
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At Brightside, we forage for at least as much wildgrown food as we harvest from our all-natural garden, vineyard, and orchards. Early summer is the time we get down on hands and knees to find wild strawberries, bright as rubies, nestled among the new grasshoppers.
Midsummer brings pink, pear-flavored serviceberries, sweet blueberries, and mellow huckleberries to meadows, hillsides, and forest openings. The deep green days of August are blackberry season, with their relatives the dewberry and black raspberry ripening right along with them. Staghorn sumac berries turn fuschia in September just as the first of the heirloom apples are ready to pick. October days are never long enough to gather all the apples, grapes, barberries, and rosehips this land provides. Even in February we find bright red wintergreen berries nestled beneath rhododendron.
The foods and beverages crafted at Brightside Acres offer good health and great taste. Everything we provide comes to you straight from the Earth itself.
Brightside Acres Wildgrown foods: Taste Nature.
Wildgrown is a philosophy rooted in the idea that the future depends on our collaboration with Nature--not our control of her.
A Wildgrown plant is cultivated with one goal, one over-arching intention: allowing Nature to produce the most nutritious, flavorful foods possible. Allowing Nature to be her nutritious and delicious best.
Wildgrown is, at heart, about eating really great food. Growing great food is Nature’s job--with a little help from her friends.
That’s why we at Brightside Acres believe our role, first and foremost, is to pay attention to Nature. Like any good friend, we stand ready and willing to help out, or even intervene, when she needs it; and then to get out of the way when she’s doing just fine on her own.
Over the years, we’ve found that the two most important, truly indispensable, tools at Brightside are pruning shears and pitchforks. Pruning is essential for the healthy production of apples, grapes, and blackberries. Also for maintaining forest openings where native herbs and berries thrive. Compost is Nature’s preferred fertilizer. Whether mixed into vegetable beds, spread thickly under fruit trees, or soaked in water to make a tea that is sprayed on the leaves of any plant, compost is recycling at its most gratifying. Nature responds with gusto to being bathed in a bit of herself.
At Brightside, we use very little in the way of manufactured insecticides. We spray dormant oil on the apple trees in the spring. For the occasional infestation of aphids or mites on any fruit- or vegetable-bearing plant, we use a spray of soap and water. Copper dust works to control powdery mildew on squash and pumpkins when it suddenly emerges in August. Each year, we release ladybugs into the vegetable garden. We set out pheromone traps in the vineyard and orchard for Japanese Beetles. And if the beetles are really bad, we walk the rows and pick them off by hand, dropping them into cans with a bit of vegetable oil in the bottom. We keep a watchful eye for tent caterpillars, which can defoliate a tree in a matter of days. We snip the caterpillar-packed tents (which look like bags constructed of spider webs) and leave them in an exposed place, where they are sure to be a welcome snack for watchful birds and lucky amphibians and reptiles.
We do our weeding by hand, the same way we do our harvesting. Apples not allowed to drop to the ground and potatoes not bruised in harvest last a long time in storage, longer than we’ve ever found in grocery store produce, even produce labeled organic.
Wildgrown. A different taste from a different way of life.
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Dawn Baldwin Barrett
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