David MacNearney is an Island Wild Blueberry Grower and Beekeeper. Farming is not in his roots but he always had a thing for managing wildlife. He is not originally an Islander, he is from just outside Halifax but headed to PEI for a job in fish farming. He worked for a few different fish farms on the Island and then purchased the land where he worked diligently to have the area to where it is today. He currently has 3-4 employees, depending on the time of year and who each have designated tasks. Over 300 beehives are managed by David and his staff, along with the wild blueberries, so like any other farmer, he has limited down-time. Due to David’s proximity in eastern PEI, he sells to Wyman’s located in Morell, PEI. David is eager to keep consumers informed with the science surrounding food and the practices behind it.
Name: David MacNearney
Occupation: Wild Blueberry Farmer and Beekeeper
What does your job entail?
We look after bees and grow wild blueberries, which is kind of a misnomer to say as they occur naturally, so what we do is manage the landscape to encourage the blueberries and discourage the competition, which is the forest.
How long have you been involved in the agriculture\food industry on PEI?
I’m going to say 15 years give or take a year or two for the wild blueberries and about 12 years for the bees.
What is your education/ experience prior to entering your current job?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management, which would now be referred to as Ecology. After my University degree, I took a Technical Degree in Fish Farming and then went to work in that, then jumped into wild blueberries.
Are you involved in any extracurricular or community activities?
Yes, we are involved with our church here in Montague, and I recently stepped down as the chair of the Montague Community School Committee, where I taught for 12 years. I always wanted to take a course, but I was always teaching courses like Beekeeping, Guitar, and fly-tying. I used to be on the Boards for the PEI Wild Blueberry Growers Association and the PEI Beekeepers Association.
What’s your favorite way to eat blueberries?
Well, my wife likes them thawed out for a couple of hours on cereal or oatmeal. Then having a sweet tooth, I like blueberry pie, cake, and grunt. I also like them frozen, so I put them frozen in the bottom of my bowl cereal then pour the milk on them to thaw just enough to keep everything cold.
When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a Biologist; at that age, I didn’t know that was the title. I wanted to be a Park Ranger, the guy that goes out in the woods. I was always geared towards wildlife and the management behind it.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I am interested in Geology; it runs in my family, my father and sister are the same way. I always find myself drawn towards rock even though I don’t know a lot about them, but I guess it is my secret curiosity.
What would you want consumers to know about your business and the agriculture/food industry?
What consumers should know is that our food is safe and nutritious with conventional farming techniques. It’s also challenging, and it’s not a very lucrative business. Everyone seems to be supportive of the farming industry but doesn’t want to pay the high prices, but we are just trying to make a living.
Why do you do what you do?
I do it because it’s a living. I didn’t get into it because I was passionate; that’s not me. I wanted to make a living, and wild blueberries provided me with that. I wanted to work for myself and was looking for a business opportunity here on PEI.