One of my favorite childhood memories is going blueberry picking with my grandfather.
He was an old Italian man who had to wear a brace because of a bout with polio when he was a child. But that didn’t stop him from getting every last berry on every bush we passed when we went picking blueberries on the gorgeous hillside blueberry farm in my hometown. I ate as many blueberries as I picked back then, and I loved going home to bake blueberry muffins afterward.
I hoped to create the same special feeling for blueberry picking for my own children, ages 3 and 6, and Harrietts Bluff Organic Blueberry Farm in Woodbine was the perfect place to do that. I felt like I was back up north for a while when we pulled onto the country road that led to the farm. It’s surrounded by trees that help bring a soothing breeze while you’re picking.
We arrived with our own baskets, or you can use the ones they provide. I figured I would bring my own so we could take them home in those baskets. Unfortunately, the only baskets I could find in our house were Easter baskets. My very macho husband was a good sport, taking the largest basket – which happens to be covered in bunnies and Easter eggs.
The farm is at the end of a country road. You follow the farm’s dirt road to a parking area, which is just a few steps away from a little hut where you can get baskets, ask any questions and – later – weigh and pay for your berries. The staff told us to go ahead and walk back to a row marked with a ribbon. That was the indicator for the best picking.
What I later realized was that there were several rows throughout the farm that were marked with ribbons. A lot of folks stopped at the first row or two, so I’m guessing the picking was even better further from the weighing area. In addition, the farm doesn’t have just one variety of blueberries. There are multiple varieties, which helps them to have an especially long season of great pickings and variety.
What’s especially cool about Harrietts Bluff Farm is that it is owned and operated by Gerard Krewer, a specialist known worldwide for his expertise in blueberries and other fruits. The farm is dedicated to growing blueberries and blackberries organically.
My kids had a blast. After reading Robert McKloskey’s “Blueberries for Sal” so many times, I should have guessed they would enjoy themselves. They loved putting berries into their buckets…. but, as with Sal, they came out as quickly as they went in. Thankfully, my husband was more dedicated to the task. He was a man on a mission, picking 20 cups’ worth of berries in record time. I picked 16 cups, but I have an excuse for coming in a little behind him: I had to stop every few minutes to corral the kids as they explored the farm and chased each other down our row.
Once the kids tired of picking berries, they had a ball looking around, inspecting plants and insects and playing tag. I noticed parents with smaller children came with wagons to pull the kids around in and give them a place to sit and play. My kiddos have too much energy to sit, but I did bring waters for everyone to make sure we all stayed hydrated.
By the adventure’s end, we were all pretty tired and dirty, but we were also elated to have our load of berries and excited to get home and make muffins. It was a lovely day and a lovely place to build family memories. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sight of my daughter literally “drinking” the berries out of her bucket!
If you want to go:
Where: 762 Pine Drive, Woodbine, Georgia
When: Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, including weekends and holidays. Typically opens in late April each year and continues into the summer.