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The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family
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The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family

3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  255 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
“A truly inspiring story, in gorgeous prose, about one family’s journey into blueberry farming. Delicious reading.” —Naomi Wolf, author of The End of America

The Blueberry Years is a mouth-watering and delightful memoir based on Jim Minick’s trials and tribulations as an organic blueberry farmer. This story of one couple and one farm shows how our country’s appetite for ch
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published August 24th 2010)
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
314th out of 759 books — 1,407 voters
My Ántonia by Willa CatherThese Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls WilderCharlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteFarmer Boy by Laura Ingalls WilderThe First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Farms and Farm Life
149th out of 186 books — 15 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 964)
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So here's my issue with too many memoirs:

I make photo books on photography websites for my kids, since I'm not patient or crafty enough to scrapbook. I go through all the pictures I took of them over the course of a year or two and try to cram all the best ones into forty or so pages. Inevitably, I end up with 80 or 100 pages on the first go and have to ruthlessly cull all those pictures down to a manageable number. I imagine it must be similar to write a memoir. You want to include everything i
Aug 30, 2010 Crystal rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
After reading Jim’s book, I’m left craving fresh blueberries and sadly they are out of season now! This book is an energetic tromp through ten years of creating a blueberry farm from a backwoods place that I would love to visit. The field stared as a dense mass of bull pines and finished under Jim and Sarah’s hands as blueberry heaven for their pickers. This book reminds me much of the Kingsolver/Hopps book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I’m struck by the hard work it takes for the American farmer ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Caley rated it liked it
While I enjoyed this memoir, there was something very... highschool-ish about the writing. The strange interludes where Minick tries his hand at poetry were just bad and the chapter sequencing was completely off. Needs some major polishing. But the story itself is very strong. I loved vicariously tasting the blueberries and romping through the fields, learning about the tough job of working the land. It's a decent read for adult memoir lovers, but best suited for a younger audience.
Nov 10, 2011 Debbie rated it liked it
A nice warm story of Jim and Sarah's struggles to become Blueberry Farmers...which really started out as a summer thing for them when their teaching schedules allowed it. It of course became all encompassing in their lives...which they grew to love, in spite of the hardships involved.
Lauren Csaki
Nov 16, 2015 Lauren Csaki rated it really liked it
I had a hard time coming up with a numerical rating for this book. At its best moments, it reminds me of that "Humans of New York" blog--interesting vignettes of the widely diverse visitors who come to the author's pick-your-own blueberry farm. There are also many enjoyable moments of poignant introspection and charming storytelling that rank among the better of the farm-dream genre. The book desperately needs some editing, however. It tries to weave a few different threads together, jumping bac ...more
I enjoyed reading about Jim and Sarah's decision to start a blueberry farm on top of their day jobs as teachers, and all the work that went into educating themselves and remaining true to their philosophies while establishing their organic farm on formerly forested land. There was a lot in this book worthy of more than three stars, but it really bogged down with scores of anecdotes of individuals who picked berries at the farm. I’m sure these are meaningful to the author, but most are simply no ...more
Rebecca Brothers
"[Berries] seem offered to us not so much for food as for sociality, inviting us to a picnic with Nature. We pluck and eat in remembrance of her. It is a sort of sacrament--a Communion--the not forbidden fruits, which no serpent tempts us to eat." --Henry David Thoreau, Autumnal Tints, 1862.

Sometimes it's just lovely to move inside someone's world for a spell. I usually do this by reading fiction, by escaping into a pretend but parallel world that allows me to get away from my own for a bit. And
Oct 08, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: farming, 5-star
I did not expect to LOVE this book as much as I did. I was interested in it, but the author's writing is so beautiful, yet funny and warm, that I just flew through reading it. Jim and Sarah Minick are both teachers who long to quit their jobs for a simpler life in the country. They get the opportunity to move to Virginia and start an organic blueberry farm. They can still work their day jobs as teachers and run the pick-your-own farm during the summer, hoping that eventually the income from the ...more
Suzanne Moore
Oct 09, 2012 Suzanne Moore rated it it was amazing
It really is hard work keeping a blueberry farm! I love to pick them and eat them, but I don't think I'd be cut out for tending to them. Jim and Sarah learned a lot in their years as berry farmers. What seemed to be the best part of their enterprise, other than the sweet taste of blue, was all the friends they made. I enjoyed the memoir but I also liked the blueberry facts and trivia. There are some tasty recipes to try in the back of the book ... one called Blueberry Grunt. If I recall it is a ...more
Melissa Kitchen
Sep 17, 2016 Melissa Kitchen rated it really liked it
As a horticulturist and teacher, I enjoyed both the science and humanity of this book. It is interspersed with the struggles of growing blueberries and glimpses into the lives of those who come to pick them.
Connie T.
Jan 06, 2011 Connie T. rated it it was ok
Years ago my husband and I moved to the country in the hopes of homesteading, so I could relate to Jim and Sarah's plan, their love of the land, and the lifestyle they tried to pursue. Unlike the Minick's, we didn't have the resources to pull it off. Having said that, I'm always intrigued by the stories of people who attempt to leave the rat race behind and try to live a more simple lifestyle.

I enjoyed this glimpse into the Minick's life. I liked the book but not enough to give it 3 stars. It d
May 22, 2012 Kate rated it did not like it
I thought I would love this book. I like hearing about how people go back to basics and work the land...BUT I could not get into this at all. There were some interesting characters but I didn't feel like I got to really know anyone. I also cringed a bit with what I felt was a sense of entitlement on the author's part. It seemed like he and his wife decided to homestead, and they just assumed all their neighbors would want to get in on the "barn raising." Feelings were hurt, it seems, when they d ...more
Jul 04, 2014 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Loved it--did not think I would !
Tina Cunningham
Jan 01, 2014 Tina Cunningham rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read, especially since we live close to the area and I've taken a basketry class from Minnick's wife. They certainly poured their souls into their farm, but I was disappointed that they gave up so easily. Farming is not a easy, get-rich-quick life; their struggles are realistic, as are their rewards.
Nov 11, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
Every once in a while, I have the dream to go live in the country and give farming a whirl. I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and it is more about a connection with the land, getting back to something real and tangible that makes the world better. This book is about one couples dream to have blueberry farming support them so they can free more time to art, and what happens when dream meets reality.
Mar 01, 2012 Megan rated it liked it
I loved the information about blueberries in this book. I liked reading about their experience trying to farm blueberries. I wasn't thrilled with his voice in the book, judging everyone and everything, because his views contradicted with my own. One example is that he believes the world is over populated, and he couldn't understand how people could have kids. They had none of their own.
Jan 15, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
The Blueberry Years was a wonderful story of one couple's journey living out their dreams...or what they thought their dreams were. The fact that it's a true story made it all the more enjoyable. I take my kids blueberry picking every year and will look much differently at the local farm the next time we go, now that I know all the work and dedication that goes into such a life!
Missy Russell
Aug 03, 2016 Missy Russell rated it liked it
It was interesting, but not as good as others such as Animal, vegetable, Miracle or See you in 100 years.
Michele Rice Carpenter
Mar 31, 2013 Michele Rice Carpenter rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Michele by: Jim Minick
Jim Minick proves himself a gifted writer. The Blueberry Years teaches about the gift of blueberry dreams, friends made and lost, family, history, and so much more. Unforgettable are the anecdotes about the various pickers. This book will have you chuckling, laughing out loud, and sad at times. It is a book about change and hope and fear. I highly recommend it.
Feb 01, 2011 Anna rated it it was ok
The blueberry facts are very interesting. The story is boring and the writing has a very forced feeling. He's trying to be lyrical and I think he's going against his natural voice trying to write in an expected style instead of as himself. I hope by now someone has enlightened him as to side-by-side toilets being for different types of human waste.
Dec 24, 2013 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Not many highs or lows in this book. And I did not get the feeling that I was getting to know Jim or Sarah. Being an outdoorsy person myself and liking to have my hands busy outside and growing things, that part I could appreciate but for the rest ..... don't know. The recipes on the last pages I am going to study and maybe try one day.
Feb 02, 2011 Ralph rated it really liked it
Jim's story is not the typical "young folks go down on the farm to find peace and harmony"-style tale. Yes, that's how it starts. But the evolution of the farm, the sociology of the community, the hard business truths of organic farming and the ultimate melancholy ending run against the tide of current back-to-the-land books.
Jenn LeBow
Feb 23, 2012 Jenn LeBow rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this thoroughly! There's a memoir aspect to it, and a blueberry info/trivia aspect, and an emphasis on the health benefits of organically-grown food, particularly blueberries. The relationships formed with neighbors and regular customers were touching, as well. Oooh, and recipes! Don't forget that!
Stephanie Curran
Sep 23, 2011 Stephanie Curran rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed this book perhaps in part because I am familiar with the hills and hollers of Floyd County. At the same time, the book was packed with insight, inspiration and even a little adventure. I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever dreamed of living off the land on their own Walden Pond.
Jun 01, 2011 Rose rated it it was amazing

Really enjoyed this memoir of a couple who live their dream in spite of the hard work, disappointments, unexpected challenges that engulf them. When they decide to change their lives, they do not mourn, they are thankful for this adventure and eager for the next one.....lives lived fully!
Jun 20, 2012 Clifford rated it it was amazing
This is a very enjoyable, fluidly written account of the author's efforts to establish a blueberry farm in the hills of southwest Virginia. He and his wife work and struggle to make the farm work, and the author shares numerous anecdotes about visitors to the farm. Plus recipes for blueberries!
Oct 18, 2010 Sara rated it it was amazing
I don't think I have ever enjoyed a book as much as I did The Blueberry Years. I am so thankful to have read it. I was awed by the beautiful imagery. I was compelled by the story. And mostly, I was inspired by the passion of this couple's dreams. I can't stop telling people about it!
Debbie Ellis
Feb 24, 2011 Debbie Ellis rated it really liked it
The flow seemed a little convaluted and redundant. It was knowledgeable and personable and gives a detailed insite of the responsibilities of attempting to take on such an adventure. I wish his website still listed the blueberry recipes that were in the book.
Nov 29, 2011 Mimi rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
As a blueberry lover, I greatly enjoyed the information about blueberries that was interspersed between the stories of how Jim and his wife, Sarah, planted, cultivated, and started an organic blueberry farm and vignettes about their customers.
Jun 05, 2011 Leah added it
This was a wonderful book about a local organic blueberry farmer. It was really neat to read a book that takes place where we live! The book made me appreciate this beautiful part of the country.
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On the Same Page: Jim Minick Interview 1 1 Aug 31, 2012 02:09PM  
  • It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life
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  • Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn
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  • The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden
  • First Person Rural
  • Farm Anatomy: Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life
  • Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land
  • This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader
  • The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
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In addition to the forthcoming memoir, The Blueberry Years, Jim Minick is the author of two books of poetry, Her Secret Song and Burning Heaven, winner of the Book of the Year Award from The Virginia College Bookstores Association. Also he has written a collection of essays, Finding a Clear Path, and edited All There Is to Keep by Rita Riddle. Minick has won awards from the Appalachian Writers Ass ...more
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