Summer Blackberries

By: Allison Park

I remember the year we found the raspberry bushes lined down the side of the road just past our house. We picked buckets and buckets of raspberries. We had Raspberry pie, jam, cobbler, you name it. The best part, they were free! Unfortunately the next year the county sprayed the sides of the road to kill the weeds, and they killed those wild raspberry bushes along with them.

Every season that comes reminds me of the different fruits and vegetables that we would go out and pick as a family and then come home and preserve. The fall was filled with Apples; apple pie, apple cider, apple jelly.  July reminds me of blueberries, blackberries, and tomatoes. My mom would find different U-Pick farms, she would call around to see who had the best deal and we would drive off down the road. We would arrive at a farm where we would pay to go and pick their produce. You could pay a little more for them to pick. But of course my mom was always trying to save money, so we would spend less money and more time picking! It was so much fun as kid. Many times our friend’s families would come along and we would all laugh and talk while picking produce for our family. It is truly one of my fondest memories of childhood.

I am now starting that tradition with my family! Though my son is only 2, and I suspect it will be a challenge chasing him around while simultaneously picking, it will make memories! It is also one of the only ways I can afford fresh fruits and vegetables! If you find yourself feeling frustrated that you can’t seem to fit fruits and veggies into your food budget, and perhaps don’t have the desire, space or time to plant your own garden. Then I want to encourage you to search the web for places to pick your own produce, near you. It is a HUGE money saver! Right now, in my area, Blueberries are going for roughly $12/gallon. Now it varies a lot on where you live, and whether or not they are treated with pesticides, but it’s a good ballpark. Compare that to going to the store. The lowest price I have seen on blueberries has been $2.50 for one pint, there are 8 pints in a gallon = $20, that’s a savings of $8/gallon. Now if you go, you want to get several gallons and freeze them to last through the winter. So if you got 4 gallons, you have saved $32. Now start adding your savings from Blackberries and tomatoes and peaches and so on. You get the idea, the savings begin to snowball! Besides that it is healthier, tastier (since they are so fresh), loads of fun, and you are supporting your local farms! It really is a great family experience! Here is one website I have found that guides me to farms, but if you don’t see your county, try using different search engines, there are many sites like this one out there.