Saturday morning the stars aligned and my hubby I and finally made it to Kelowna's Blueberry Haven on Webster Road. Located just above Rutland Playing Field, the farm is a family run U-Pick owned and operated by David and Michele. Four years ago, the couple purchased the farm from Michele's parents who started Blueberry Haven twenty five years ago. You can gather your fill of organic blueberries for only $2.50 a pound and there are a couple of rows of blackberries ripe for the picking at $3.50 a pound. Just check the website for the next pick.
It's more relaxed here than the strawberry patch where you must bring your own bucket and march down the row behind the guy with the hat and the flag who instructs you to "Pick along this row. Both sides. Make sure you get every ripe berries, even the small ones. Be sure to mark where you finish." (To be fair, strawberries are very different from blueberries and there are good reasons to do as he says.) At Blueberry Haven you can borrow a bucket for picking but you need to bring your own containers to take them home. After you procure your bucket, you stand before the berry laden bushes while Michele waves her arm over the green rows, like one of Barker's Beauties and instructs you to 'Find a spot and pick',
For me, the mindless repetitive task of picking has a calming, almost meditative effect. The tangled mess of my thoughts slowly unfurl and disperse. Without the ubiquitous soundtrack of traffic, my ear tunes in to the gentle symphony of my surroundings.
At first all is a distant murmur. Then I pick out the tick, tick..swishhhh of the rotating sprinkler. Crickets chirp and I hear the trill of a bird. I hone in a little closer, to the syncopated thunk...thunk, tha-thunk as juicy berries fall from my fingers and strike the bottom of my pail - now yellow, soon blue. There's a low, pleasant hum from the voices of the surrounding couples interspersed with percussive laughter as regulars greet and tease each other. "You know they weigh you too before you leave..."
As the clock reaches a more reasonable hour the families arrive; moms and dads and kids, grandmothers and grandfathers with their young charges. The children chime in, sharing their discoveries, "I can pick 'cause I'm taller!" "But the caterpillar wants to be on the tree!" "Mom! ...Aiden ate all his blueberries!" "It's fuzzy!...it's fuzzy not pokey!"
Soon our pails are heavy and the sun decidedly strong. We work our way back up our row, stopping to pick the beckoning fruit we somehow missed on the way down. "Did they ripened since we got here?"
In an hour and a half our efforts have gleaned ten pounds of berries. By coincidence it's exactly what we came for. It's mostly for our freezer so I think I'll visit again to pick a few pounds for immediate consumption. And I'll follow the website suggestion to hang the bucket off a belt next time, so I can pick with two hands.
I can't bear to put them all in the freezer. Can you imagine how good a pie tastes made from blueberries fresh off the branch? Berries that have never seen the inside of a refrigerator?