A couple of weeks ago, the weekly stroll through the blueberry patch got exciting when we saw some blue color sprinkled in the clumps of berries. Now there are lots of blues, and we’re officially picking weekly. This year we expect to pick approximately 53,000 pounds of blueberries. Over the years, we have perfected the art of blueberry picking. I thought I would share how we do it. Let me give you a little background first.
We grow Northern Highbush blueberries here in Lake Chelan, Washington. Our two cultivars are Draper and Liberty. Drapers start the harvest season by two weeks, and the Liberties take us into August to end the season around the middle of the month. We chose these two varieties because of their overlapping bloom season that promotes fruit set and larger size. The lateness of the Liberty helps to extend our harvest window. Even though blueberries are mostly, self-fertile WSU recommends planting two different cultivars to promote these attributes.
It only takes about four of our berries to fill your mouth!
The eating experience includes aburst of sweet juice as you bite down, popping the berries. It’s hard to stop! Luckily, our fruit is easy to access since our thirteen-year-old bushes are a comfortable five-feet tall. The bush size, combined with the large berry size, allows for easy picking. Are you anxious as a bird in a berry patch to see how the professionals do it?
Enough background, let’s start picking! Our supplies include the following: a hat because there’s not much shade in the blueberry patch, a mask for safe interactions with fellow pickers, a one-gallon picking bucket, a harness with clips, freshly washed hands ready for picking, and an early morning start because both berries and pickers are happier during the chilly morning.
The picker places the harness over his shoulders with the clips in front to attach the one-gallon pail. By clipping the pail to the harness, both hands are free to pick. The picker cups his hands together below a clump of blueberries. He uses his thumbs to gently rub the berries from the stem into his cupped palms. When his cupped palms are full, he gently places the berries into the bucket.
We just started packing our blueberries to close the gap between our farm and your plate. I’m very excited to announce that you can find our organic blueberries at stores in Lake Chelan at Red Apple Market, Seattle PCC Stores, Seattle Central Coop, or San Francisco’s Earl’s Organic Produce.
A work of art, right? Why yes, that’s us! Look for this label in the organic produce section of the market to locate our plump, beautiful blueberries. Another even easier option is to order online at chelanbeauty.com. Our online store is the most direct purchasing option from us to you! We hope to open our store on the farm in 2021. Now that you know how we pick our blueberries, I hope I’ve inspired you to participate in a u-pick at a small family farm or purchase some of ours!