April 8, 2005
"Fields of Blue: Blueberry Rakers and Their Stories", a compilation of work by Washington County native Allison Ouellet, which tells the story of migrant rakers, many of them from the St. John Valley, who traveled to Washington County every August to work the blueberry harvest, will be on display in the gallery room of the new Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes through May 27.
Through the use of text quotes, audio selections from interviews, photographs and objects, the exhibit tells the story of one hand raking crew employed by Cherryfield Foods Company, and focuses on the experiences of Franco-American rakers from the St. John Valley.
The crew was once one of the largest multi-ethnic crews to sweep across blueberry barrens.
Over time the crew shrunk in size, and the harvest of 2002 marked the last year of its existence.
"For generations migrant blueberry rakers have traveled to Washington County during the month of August to help harvest the wild blueberry crop found on the barrens, a vast stretch of land that is void of almost anything except wild low-bush blueberry plants. The industrialization of agriculture has dramatically affected these seasonal workers. Rakers who once worked on hand crews have gradually but steadily been displaced by machines," said Ouellet.
The material displayed in the exhibit is based on ethnographic evidence and information drawn from material culture that was collected to tell the story of a group of people that is under-represented in the documentary record.
Individuals and groups can view the exhibit between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday until May 27 or by appointment with the Archives staff by calling (207) 834-7535.