A few weeks ago, S discovered a local (as in, five miles away) pick-your-own blueberry farm (Voytko Farms, in Auburn – they also have some currants and raspberries in season, and sell honey and maple syrup), and we’ve since visited three times. Each time, we’ve ended up with a full six-pound bucket (3-4 quarts), which runs us about $10. Not a bad deal when they sell pints that were picked who-knows-how-long-ago for $3 in a store.
Each trip has gradually been an improvement from the one prior. The first time, we took C in a stroller with a book or two, and maybe a snack. We spent about an hour picking, but let him out to help. I know… we mostly ended up chasing him across rows because, surprise, he didn’t want to stand still and pick when there were eight acres of bushes to explore.
The second time, I put him in the jogging stroller, which is easier to keep him confined in, and brought books, crayons, food, and various knick-knacks in an attempt to keep him occupied. This worked for a little longer and let us pick unmolested for a time, but eventually, I discovered the trick of just pushing the stroller into a bush so he could pick and eat while sitting still (he very quickly learned which ones were appropriate to pick). Win-win. By the end of this trip, I had also perfected what I like to call “the double” – the two-handed, ultra-efficient picking method. It allows me to pick up to six times faster than a normal person – the efficiency improvement is exponential, not straight-line growth.
Finally, for the third time out, we were streamlined and really humming. I pushed the boy into a bush as soon as we got there, moving him about every five or ten minutes after he had picked one clean. I brought out “the double” from the start. S… helped too. After a half-hour of blueberries, C decided he’d had enough fruit, so I brought out the backup snacks for something crunchy and a little change of pace. This bought us at least another 15 or 20 minutes. If you’re keeping track, that’s three-quarters of an hour that he sat still, without complaining or trying to break free. Unheard of.
We’ve thus far frozen most of the berries, but if anyone has any interesting blueberry preserve or jam recipes, we’re all ears!