Thirty Years of Raising Raspberries in Woodstock

The summer raspberry season is short but oh so sweet! If you don’t make haste, you’ll miss it. And that’s what Ken Woodhead of Woodstock fears the most. That his ripe, delicate raspberries won’t make it into the hands of happy eaters quickly enough.

Ken has been delivering freshly picked berries to the Market for nearly 30 years. Most days in July he makes two trips—once in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

When Ken bought his Woodstock home 35 years ago, he planted 18 raspberry bushes. Now his entire backyard is one giant raspberry patch. Here’s how it happened: Every year the mother plants send out suckers (a.k.a. new plants), flower and fruit, and then die after the fruit is harvested. The new plants produce only foliage the first year; the second year they send out suckers, flower and fruit, and the cycle begins again. And again. And again.

Ken says he usually waits until the spring to clear out the second-year cane that has died away. This is completely understandable, given how hard he works putting his raspberry patch to good use during the growing season.

It’s a big responsibility. Ken, who has a long history in the culinary arts, compares raspberries to other delicacies, like mushrooms and herbs, with a short shelf-life. You have to enjoy them right away, while they’re fresh, because they simply don’t last. And this is what makes raspberries extraordinarily special.

So how much time do we have left? The summer raspberry season in central Vermont just reached its peak, so we can expect another three weeks or so of fresh raspberry eating. And then, well, we’ll have to wait until next year.

 

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