||When you visit please respect the field rules.
They are not only for the protection and health of the blueberry plants; they are for the protection and health of you!
Why are there roped off areas?
There are several reasons areas are roped off: part of the field is contracted out, the berries are not yet ripe (see the answer to "How many varieties of blueberry are at the farm?"), and for your protection from hornets and wasps.
Hornets and wasps often make their nest in the field. Native hornets general nest in old rodent holes in the ground (non-native European hornets commonly build their nest in the sides of houses). Paper wasps build structures like the one pictured above.
Please remember that these wasps and hornets serve an important function in the field and in your garden! They feed on caterpillars, aphids, beetle grubs, and flies, all of which can directly harm crops or can transmit plant diseases. To read more on the benefits of living with hornets please read more here.
Can I bring my dog?
|Katie, the farm dog, says, "Please leave your dog at home."
Can I/my son/my friend/etc. work on your farm for the summer?
Due to the cost of insurance for non-family workers, we can not afford to employ or accept volunteers on our farm. If you are interested in gaining farming experience, check out the Grow Food (membership fee required), which posts work opportunities on farms. Similarily, you can try WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms; membership fee required) and volunteer on the local farms (must be at least 18 years old).
Seattle Tilth offers volunteer and internship possibilities and suggestions on how to get involved with a farm.
You can volunteer for Lettuce Link by Solid Ground in Seattle to provide less fortunate families with fresh, organic produce.
L'arche and HUG (Hilltop Urban Gardens) in Tacoma provides volunteer gardening opportunities.
Left Foot Organics in Olympia has volunteer and employment opportunities.
Friends of the Farms on Bainbridge Island offers a variety of volunteer opportunities at their monthly work parties.
Don't rely on just these as the only opportunities out there. Continue to search the internet as new and updated information becomes available. But as you can see there is a diversity of opportunities await a dedicated volunteer who is eager to get their hands dirty.
Any tips for picking blueberries?
When you find a variety of blueberry that you enjoy, pick the bush clean! Look up at the top of the bush and look inside the bush to pick all the berries. Careful move limbs (without bending them too much) to look into the bush. It is amazing how much fruit can be hiding behind a few leaves!
To pick ripe berries, take a cluster in one hand and gentle roll your thumb over the berries. The ripe berries will fall off into your hand (without a stem) while the unripe berries will stay on the bush.
A ripe berry will be entirely blue and should come off the bush without much effort. An unripe berry is green, entirely red, or has a red blush around the stem. Please leave these on the bush so others many pick and enjoy them in the future.
When picking berries, remember to be gentle to the plant - do not bend, break, or twist the branches. The future health of and the amount of fruit on the bushes depend on how the plants are treated by pickers.
Will blueberries ripen after being picked?
No, unlike peaches or bananas, blueberries do not ripen after being picked. If they are picked red or green they will not turn blue or become sweeter.
Do you use pesticides on your blueberry plants?
Pesticides have not been used on our plants since we have owned the farm (1998).
Environmental Working Groups's listed the "dirty dozen" of 2012. It lists the top 12 fruits and produce that you should buy organic. The dirty dozen had high levels of pesticide residue or multiple types pesticides, even after washing the produce. Blueberries made the list with one of the samples tested containing 13 types of pesticides. Learn more here and download a list of produce to buy organic and a list of safer choices.
Ick! There's a bug on my berries!
Though the farm is not certified organic, we choose not to spray our plants with poisonous chemicals. To make those tasty berries that we love, we rely on local native bumblebees to fertilize the flowers. Pesticides are non-discriminatory. If we sprayed pesticides in the field to control bugs that sometimes feed on or are found around the berries, we would harm our pollinators as well. In addition to concerns about harming our pollinators, we are concerned about the effects of pesticides on humans. Given the choice, we would much rather have a few insects crawling on the berries than having neurotoxic or carcinogenic chemicals coating our fruit. Click here to read more on this topic.
How many varieties of blueberry are at the farm?
At least 20 varieties of blueberries, which were planted in the 1940s (click here for more information), grow on our farm. There is only a total 50-60 varieties of blueberries in the world, and half of those are grown in the northern regions. So our farm hosts the majority of blueberry varieties grown in the northern region!
The berries are very different between varieties in size, shape, and taste. The plants of each variety also have a distinct growth pattern and ripening cycle. Some berries ripen early, while others ripen later in the season. For example, in our field, we have a popular commercial variety whose berries turn blue early in the season. However, those berries don't produce sugar and get sweet until much later (these berries are usually roped off during the U-pick season).
Since the majority of the field was planted before the commercialization of produce, most of the blueberry varieties must be hand-picked. Some blueberry varieties in our field are not typically found in grocery stores. So when you visit the field use your senses to taste and see the difference in our fruit.
What are those small, white, dried up berries?
Those are called mummy berries. A disease caused by a fungus can grow on the berries eventually drying out the berry, causing it to shrivel. When the mummy berries fall on the ground, they spread their spores, continuing their life cycle.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (253) 229-6438.