Two years ago, I decided I should try to carry on a family tradition of berry picking. From about third grade until I left home, my family spent one Saturday morning each summer at an orchard. We would get up around five or six to arrive early and avoid the worst of the Texas heat. We did it when we lived outside Dallas, and we found a new place when we moved to Houston (The King’s Orchard, now apparently a parking lot for the Renaissance Fair). We’d carpool with family friends, bring sunblock and sandwiches, pick for a few hours, then head home. My mom, in a jumpsuit and gloves, headed to the blackberries. The rest of us stuck to blueberries. When we got home, we made blackberry jam, and bagged and froze the blueberries. And then, blueberries for the rest of the year.
I missed this in college, but never made a real effort to locate a farm near St. Louis. But there are a few options around Louisville, so my first summer in Kentucky, we decided visit Huber’s Orchard. So Gabe and I met some friends at the farm in Starlight, Indiana, where we rode a tractor-pulled flatbed trailer to the blueberry bushes. We picked (and ate) blueberries for at least two hours, and when we checked out, our harvest weighed in at around 20 pounds. The berries lasted us the whole year and were mostly consumed on cereal and in pancakes.
We never made it out last year, and 2011-12 was mostly barren of blueberries. This year, (tomorrow, in fact), on the recommendation of a friend and “Edible Louisville,” we’ll head to Bryant’s Blueberries in New Salisbury, Indiana, to see what they have to offer for picking. As their name indicates, they only grow blueberries, so there will be no getting distracted by peaches or blackberries (less hardy than my mother, I’m never willing to struggle with the thorns involved in acquiring a basket of those berries). Anyone willing to join last minute should be prepared for an early morning — the farm opens for picking at 7:30 and closes at noon. And bring cash or your checkbook — Bryant’s doesn’t take cards.