July is when blueberries come into season, both wild and tall bush cultivated. Depending on what the weather has been like and what part of the country you live in, it could be anytime from the beginning of the month to the first few weeks. Here are some tips for visiting a blueberry farm.
Call Before You Leave/Check Website
If you’re not sure what the farm’s hours are, or what the weather will be like, or if they can accommodate your Uncle Charlie’s wheelchair, call first. There is nothing more disappointing than driving there, especially if you have to drive a long way, only to discover that you made your journey in vain. The farm is more than happy to answer any questions you have in advance over the phone. The weather is somewhat fickle and it may not be raining at your house, but an hour away it could be pouring with rain. On a similar note, check to see if the farm has a website or Facebook page. Many times, the information you need will be listed on the page. They will tell you what their policies are, what the weather conditions are, what they are currently picking up, and what their hours are.
Leave your strollers/big bags/pets/buckets at home
Strollers are difficult to maneuver through the rows of a blueberry farm, and the terrain is often rough. It also makes it difficult for farm staff to keep an eye on potential “thieves”. The same is true for large bags. If you must bring a large bag, plan to leave it secured in the trunk of your car while you collect.
Most farms have a no pet policy. This is for the safety of visitors and any animals they may have on your farm. Please leave your dogs at home.
You bought the cute berry picking baskets from your local basket making company. You have buckets that your Great Aunt Sheila collected when she was a child. His family has been using the same buckets for decades. Keep them at home and display them, or take them on a hike and use them to pick wild berries. Most choose your own farms provide you with buckets to use and have policies that prevent you from using your own.
Visit early in the day
Blueberries thrive in warm, sunny conditions, and the fields they grow in offer very little shade. The temperature may only read 82*f on the thermostat, but in the country sun it will feel much hotter. On top of that, the bushes keep you warm and it’s easy to overheat on a really hot day. The best time to pick is in the morning, before the berries get too hot. After noon on a day when temperatures reach the 80s and 90s, the berries will be hot and soft and once you get home they won’t keep as well.
Wear a hat and bring water
The best option is a large floppy hat that keeps the sun off your face and neck. If all you have is a baseball cap, that will work too. The goal is to keep the sun off your head and give you a bit of shade and cool. Picking blueberries isn’t hard work, but on a hot day you can quickly dehydrate in the field heat. Drinking plenty of water will keep you safe and allow you to enjoy your time on the farm.
Put the bag in the bucket
If your farm gives you a bucket with a plastic bag in it, please keep it there. You may have read Blueberries for Salt with your kids before you left, and they want to hear the “plink, plink, plink” just like in the book, but after a handful or two of berries, they’re not going to plink anyway. The bag is there to help staff weigh your berries when you’re done picking them, and so you can easily and safely take them home. Those buckets may have been on the farm for a long time and are a bit dirty and rusty. You don’t want your freshly picked berries in them right now, do you?
It is choose your own, not self service
Of course, you should try a FEW berries to make sure you like the variety you’re picking, especially if you have several varieties to choose from. Selling berries is the farmer’s livelihood, and if you eat as many berries as you pick, you’re essentially stealing from them. Choose what you like best, then take the berries home and enjoy.