Most definitely, Great Mountain Forest shaped me into the person I am today. I started as a summer intern that fortunately turned into a full time position that spanned some ten years. I had the privilege to work side by side with Ted Childs, Darrell Russ, Sam Hawley, Jody Bronson, Ernest Smith, Wayne Jenkins, Tam Goggin, Nash Prahdan, Linc and Timmy Foster, and many others. What a great list of mentors and friends that were all very sharing in their knowledge and time. Each of my co-workers and Darrell and Ted had a passion for some part(s) of the plant and animal kingdoms.
One day in particular, during one of my first summers there, shaped my life’s destiny. Ted had a habit of hollering out my name “Robert”, heard high and wide among the sugar maples at Coolwater; all to expedite a speedy conversation or a new job to do, etc. This afternoon he asked me to help him in the “Woods” for which he gathered up a couple of pails, a couple of dogs, and a Model “A” Ford. We zoomed up the gravel road. He drove to a hidden half acre clearing in the forest that had a couple dozen highbush blueberry plants that he knew were ready for picking. We spent the better part of the afternoon picking berries, identifying bird calls and even more important, we explored each other’s minds in conversations that traversed a wide range of topics. While driving back to Coolwater with the dogs following the Model “A”, an idea popped into my head to provide that same experience for others. Little did I know, that was a pivotal day in my life. Several years later I purchased a parcel of land to make that idea a reality and Evergreen Berry Farm was born. Today I maintain 8 acres of blueberries and 2 acres of raspberries for fifteen thousand or so visitors to pick from each summer.
GMF was my foundation for starting and operating Evergreen Berry Farm. The hands on skills I needed to become a farmer were acquired by working with foresters, a geologist, weathermen, rock gardeners, a perennial gardener, a fruit and vegetable gardener, and a 10th Mountain Ranger.
Owner, Evergreen Berry Farm