By Brooke Randolph, LMHC for DietsInReview.om
I spent the first 90 minutes of my Saturday picking blueberries at Driving Wind Blueberry Farm. In the middle of Indianapolis, the 12th largest city in the United States, there is a pick-your-own berry farm that doesn’t use pesticides. Blueberries are probably my favorite fruit, so I was thrilled to hear about this awesome resource in my area. Katy Carter at Katy She Cooks first informed me and got me excited about the “pond-irrigated, bee-pollinated, organically-grown blueberries, [on] up to 6 eventual acres if plans hold up.” As I got out of my car, I was greeted by two friendly children who handed me a plastic bag-lined bucket for my berries.
I am guessing that it was their grandmother who checked me in based on my reservation and their parents who were showing people to their individual rows explaining how to pick blueberries, how to know which ones are ripe, and bringing large buckets for people to sit on while picking. They even offered mosquito bracelets in case there were any pests.
It was all very friendly and relaxing. Owner Joshua Welch came to check on us after a while and told me about the farm’s plans to expand and try other kinds of berries like raspberries, goji berries, and kiwi berries. The bushes had been washed by sudden early morning storms, but the sun was shining by the time the farm opened. There were pairs of friends picking berries, parents with their children, adults with their parents – people of all ages and abilities. Compared to berries fresh from the bush, store-bought berries may always seem bland from now on.
The fresher produce is, the greater the nutritional qualities as well. Picking the berries was an extremely renewing experience. It would be a great opportunity to work side-by-side with your kids, which tends to encourage them to open up more than facing them directly.
The only thing that disrupted the atmosphere was one woman who did not follow the “stick to your row” guidelines, hopping from bush to bush, even on rows that had been assigned to others. Those around me quickly packed up and left as she worked her way toward us. It is too bad that she had to interrupt the otherwise relaxing experience for others since each row offered plenty of berries and additional rows were available. Working alone, I was able to get more than five pounds of blueberries for less than $20!
Driving Wind Farm is working by appointment only since the bushes are not yet entirely mature. Although they are the only farm within Indianapolis city limits, there are others nearby.
There are U-pick farms in or near other cities around the country, and likely one in your area. U-pick farms offer a variety of produce including asparagus, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, figs, tomatoes, green beans, apples, grapes, pumpkins, and even Christmas trees. This website can help you find farms in your area.
Plan to get dirty (although they had buckets to sit on, I had to kneel in the dirt to find all of the plump, ripe berries), remember that you are working outside, and call ahead to make sure there is plenty of produce available. U-pick farms can be a relaxing, enjoyable, and nutritious activity for the entire family. Not only will you have fresh produce to enjoy, but you may have plenty left over to freeze. I am looking forward to blueberry pancakes for several months.
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