Blueberry Fields Forever: Sureway’s Role as an On-Site Agent
Along the foggy coastal areas of “down east” Maine during the month of August, you’ll find the harvest of an extraordinary little superfood, which is as healthy as it is delicious. Just as Maine is often known for its slogan, “the way life should be,” the blueberry barrens near Cherryfield, Maine, in late summer reflect a natural closeness to the earth we could all undoubtedly benefit from.
In today’s society, the temptation towards a cyber world of our own making is always present. People today can easily find focus on our own electronic reality instead of finding the tranquility of living sustainably in a beautiful world, which is full of absolute wonder. Technology is certainly good, but is that all there is to life?
As autumn launches its creeping tendrils of change towards the far northern stretches of New England, the low-bush wild blueberry plant takes center stage for a few weeks during harvest time. Although this type of wild blueberry plant rises only a few inches off the ground, its importance is far-reaching. Make no mistake about it—harvest time in August is make-or-break time in this quiet, beautiful part of our country.
This is precisely where Sureway agent Shawn Moores enters the scene.
Shawn has worked for Sureway Transportation for many years. As an agent who normally moves flatbed freight, fate began chasing him a few years ago when the opportunity to move blueberries from the nearby barrens began calling to him. Along with fellow agent Bob Leighton and valued carrier Will Coffin, these three “Mainers” are dialed into doing their part to bring wild Maine blueberries to our tables.
Wild Maine blueberries are little culinary delights, which grow in ways you might not expect. The little plants are only harvested every other year, they face harsh temperature extremes, and grow in a generally rocky soil. Who would’ve guessed that an unassuming plant which grows so low to the ground in a sparsely populated area of eastern Maine could produce such a wonderful fruit? Perhaps that’s part of the reason for its success.
In early summer, countless bee hives are brought in to do their part on the blueberry plants. The mix of the bee’s work, the summer temperatures, and how much rain is received, all play a substantial role in how the crop will turn out. As late July approaches, the harvest process moves into the starting gate. If all goes well, those little dark blue dynamos then begin to make their way from the barrens and towards our markets. And that’s also when our agent Shawn begins to get very little sleep for about a month or so.
As you might expect, Shawn, who resides nearby, works like a madman for several weeks as an on-site logistics agent. He coordinates everything from scheduling the carriers, documents the paperwork involved, and works as a general trouble-shooter while working from his 4-wheel drive pickup truck. Believe me; he sure needs it to get around down some of these gravelly back roads.
The enormous harvesters reap what the barrens provide every year. For our part, contract carriers shuttle the bins of berries to a local freezer for storage, and later transportation into shipping networks. Once again, an experienced Sureway agent brings exceptional value to the shipping process, thereby allowing Sureway to play another integral role of doing our part to move America forward.
The trucking and logistics industry is actually a very simple business. Technology certainly helps all of us, but in the end, trucks on the ground bring us what we need to actually live our lives. After 41+ years in the trucking business, it was very refreshing to stand in the middle of the quiet blueberry barrens and watch the harvesters take their yield to the trucks, and ultimately to the freezer location not far away. It’s a simple-yet-laborious process which so many of us rarely think of when we drop some wild Maine blueberries into our various recipes.
Somehow, these simple, hearty blueberries know how to not grow too far away from the life-sustaining earth. During some years, it’s hard for them to grow in the given conditions. Other years, things fall right into place and the fruit’s yield is amazing. Either way, the blueberries of Maine seem to persevere, no matter what.
Perhaps we all could learn a lesson from the blueberry’s simple example of how to live a fruitful life … a persevering life … a simple life … the way life should be.
Wade Carey (above right) is Eastern Regional Manager for Sureway Transportation. He has been working with independent agents for nearly four decades, with experience in small, medium, and large organizations.