Michael Pagana hasn’t always been a farmer, but now he’s growing blueberries while also working his day job as a marriage therapist.
“A lot of our effectiveness in our work has to do with the strength of the relationship between counselor and client,” Pagana said.
When Pagana’s family moved in 2010, there were already 800 blueberry bushes planted in the field behind their Campbell Hall home, previously occupied by his wife’s family. However, those bushes weren’t properly taken care of for a long time, so the Paganas began working to restore the farm.
“I’m usually out here in the field doing something with the bushes or the grounds,” Pagana said.
In 2013, the family opened Halfway Acres, a “u-pick” blueberry farm. Since then, Pagana has learned more about caring for the crop with their now 3,000 blueberry bushes.
“We had a decent crop; however, there’s been a lack of rain,” Pagana said. “We don’t have an irrigation system in yet, and so we’re kind of dependent on nature, and whatever the sky brings.”
As a marriage therapist, part of Pagana’s job is to bring families together, which is also the family’s goal with the “u-pick” farm.
“When you share some of your most memorable moments are with food,” Pagana said.
And Pagana’s work as a farmer helps to feed people.
“Families are coming out to pick one of the most healthiest foods in the world, and they’re making memories together, and then they’re eating and they’re sharing meals, and that’s what farmers are doing,” Pagana said.
Besides enjoying each other’s company, a group of friends likes picking berries to support a local business.
“We’re just feeding into the folks that feed us, and it’s a great relationship,” said Christa Hoovler, of Deer Park.
At the end of the day, a combination of hard work, fun and collaboration makes this family business what it is.