Monday, August 12, 2013

Get picking: it's blueberry time

I have lost touch with reality. As reports came in of wild blueberries all over the Gunflint Trail and the North Shore, I stayed home waiting for news from somewhere else...the South Shore. This weekend, we went to Blue Vista Farm in Bayfield and picked about two gallons of big, beautiful blueberries. No bug bites. No scratches from the hike in. No sore back from bending down or sitting on lichen-covered rocks.

Commercial pick-your-own berry farms are about quantity over quality. Domestic berries don't have the exquisite taste of wild berries. But you can fill your flat in less than an hour of picking.

Every farm product, from spinach to sweet corn, is late this year. South Shore berry farms are typically ready about two weeks before berry farms in the Duluth and North Shore area. So local Minnesota berries are just getting ready. For a week or two here in mid-August, there are commercial berries anywhere you go.

Where to pick
In Wisconsin
We're big fans of Blue Vista Farms in Bayfield. They have both organic and nonorganic berries, in a lovely old farmstead up in the hills over that great harbor town. Here's a link to all of Bayfield's orchards and berry farms.

In Minnesota
The biggest pick-your-own blueberry farm in the Duluth/North Shore area is Blackbirds and Blueberries, just east of Cloquet. Like many berry farms, they use Facebook to get the word out about picking times. It's always a good time out there as people from all over the region fill the fields and collect their buckets of blue joy. I've blogged about Blackbirds and Blueberries here.

A little off the beaten path but definitely more "North Shore" is Sherry's Berries, in Alden Township inland from Lake Superior between Duluth and Two Harbors. Sherry's is small and personal, with certified organic berries. Call ahead to reserve a picking time and to get directions. Read my blog entry from last year about Sherry's.

Whether it's on a rocky outcrop of the Superior Hiking Trail or a plush farm field in Wisconsin, picking blueberries connects you, body and soul, with wonderful wild places of the Lake Superior region.

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