The Blueberry Farm

In the early years, prior to the creation of Wesley Homes Des Moines, the campus was the site of a blueberry farm.  As the story goes, in 1947 5,000 of the plants were transplanted to the Mercer Slough in Bellevue, an area that was once the bottom of Lake Washington and is rich in natural peat. To prepare for transplantation, it was necessary to prune each plant by 75%. However, with such a fertile foundation, the plants not only survived but thrived. Today, the legacy plants of Wesley Homes still produce small yet lovely berries that have delighted people for years. Since 2006, Wesley Homes residents have visited the Mercer Slough to pick berries where it all began. The exact location of the legacy berries was determined by former Bellevue resident and current Wesley Homes Des Moines resident Dorothy Scheppke, who had access to official city documents and was able to determine their exact location. I had the privilege of accompanying the residents to pick the berries this year, and I was reminded of the exact rows to remain in for our legacy berries. There is a keen commitment by Wesley Homes residents to not dilute these little blue gems with any other berry. I must admit the tenacity and gymnastics required to reach our legacy berries made me wonder about the medicinal qualities of these little gems, as I appeared more tired and sore than the older adults I accompanied. The treasure we mined will be made into pies, tarts and other goodies to sell at the annual bake sale in November. All the proceeds directly benefit the Wesley Homes Circle of Concern, a charitable fund that supports residents in need of financial support due to no fault of their own. All in all, it was a lovely day, filled with stories, laughter and pride – the kind of pride that flourishes as it is passed from one generation to another.  

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