In late June, Partners for Conservation Board Director and South Georgia landowner and tree farmer Reese Thompson hosted an annual gathering of partners, neighbors, and friends known as the Blueberry Picnic. Some years ago, Reese purchased a tract of land for his wife Pam Thompson for Valentine’s Day. In addition to longleaf pine, the tract had a blueberry patch, which is notable since Pam is a registered dietician who according to Reese “lives on fresh fruit.”
Reese did some investigating and determined that it didn’t pencil out to operate the blueberry orchard as a part of his commercial enterprise, but it was a nice amenity and did produce blueberries every summer. The Thompsons decided that they would host an annual “blueberry picking” to ensure that the berries were put to good use. The blueberry picking has evolved into the blueberry picnic that Pam and Reese host as a big annual “thank you” to all the individuals and organizations that have assisted and are assisting with their efforts to restore, manage, and better understand the plants and animals that comprise their piece of the longleaf pine ecosystem.
But it is not just Pam and Reese that host, daughter Audrey and son Reese, two years old, are also a big part of the event, along with neighbors and friends. This year over 100 folks came out including partners from many organizations such as USDA-NRCS, The Nature Conservancy, Longleaf Alliance, The Orianne Society, American Forest Foundation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Forestry Commission, National Wildlife Federation, and Warnell School of Forestry.
As well as hosting, Reese represented Partners for Conservation. Burner Bob was there in spirit in the form of a two-dimensional “statue”. Bob was particularly pleased to share the news that he was recently recognized in a proclamation by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal for his work communicating the importance of the longleaf pine ecosystem and the critical need for prescribed fire to sustain longleaf pine.
In addition to picking blueberries, attendees were treated to great conversation and a feast catered by the Thompson family and friends representing the best of South Georgia hospitality. The food, activities for the kids, and great conversation ensured that everyone went away happy and NOBODY went away hungry! Thanks to Reese, Pam, their children, and their community for their work and their effort recognizing the important partnerships that make conservation “go” in their part of the world!