The Time is Ripe – Get Out There and Pick Some Berries

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jessica Ward
Seattle's Child Magazine

Parents are always trying to find more ways to spend meaningful teaching time with their children. In this touch-and-go economy, tight budgets are forcing many families to bypass amusement parks, expensive weekend trips and other adventures. One palatable possibility: a weekend berry-picking outing with the kids. You can spend some outdoor time and reap the rewards of these tasty super-foods.

“You-pick” berry farms are tucked away in neighborhoods all over Western Washington. Many cater to frugal families and provide opportunities, fun and games for people of all ages – from pony rides and face- painting to farm stands and other fun activities. Remlinger Ffarms in Carnation has built an entire farm-based theme -park around berry-picking. Sadly, the Snoqualmie floods wiped out this year’s Remlinger strawberry crop, but their other berries and fruits are expected to ripen on schedule this summer.

Strawberries first become available in mid-June. Blueberries come in mid-July. Raspberries run through June and July, and blackberries are available in August and September.

Berry-picking is generally an affordable activity. Most farmers estimate prices will be under $2 per pound this year (exact prices hadn’t been set as of press time). They often offer discounts if you buy more than five pounds. Plan on paying in cash, or call ahead to see if other payment methods are accepted. And plan on making the farm trip early in the day, as many fields are too hot, or picked clean by early afternoon.

For even cheaper fruit, you can always scrounge around for wild blackberries. Technically, they’re a noxious weed and not supposed to be planted. They’re all over the place, though, and King County sends out volunteers to battle the bushes constantly. King Ccounty does all its blackberry control by hand and does not spray the bushes.

Noxious though they might be, if you pick them at the right time, wild blackberries are plenty yummy. Families in King County are allowed to pick berries on open and public park land. If you’re interested, make sure that the land you have in mind is truly public or ask permission of the owner. If you’ll be picking berries in a city park or a park in another county, contact their department of parks or natural resources for any official rules or spray warnings.

If you want to plan an outing at a berry-picking farm, call ahead to see if you need to bring your own bags and buckets for berries. Be prepared for the weather: hats and sunscreen on sunny days and raincoats and boots for damp days. Richard Linbo, of Linbo Blueberry farms in Puyallup, recommends that blueberry pickers, especially, wear boots and long sleeves regardless of weather. Because blueberries grow in peat bogs, they are especially good areas for mosquitoes. Families should also pack water bottles, and wipes or hand sanitizers. While most facilities have bathroomstoilets, not all have washing stations. Finally, remember that berry juice stains., and as littleLittle ones learning to pick the berries they’re are bound to break a few, so everyone should wear clothes that can catch some berry juice.

The Skinny on These Super Foods

Berries are often touted as “super foods” by doctors, and by smoothie stores which have grown increasingly popular in recent years. Berries are rich in many nutrients that are vital to a healthy diet, including fiber, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium and folate. Just one cup of strawberries has 136 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

IF YOU GO

There are lots of places to pick berries in Western Washington. These are a few of our family-friendliest favorites:

Bill Pace Fruit and Produce
Where: 2380 Bellevue Way S.E., Bellevue
When: Open April 15-October 31 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Cost:* No admission fee. Cash, Visa and MasterCard accepted.
Family Days: Special tours or events can be arranged with Pace in advance for groups and tours.
Contact: 425-467-050; paceranch11@yahoo.com. www.billpacefruitproduce.com.


Linbo Blueberry Farm
Where: 8405 Fruitland Ave. E., Puyallup
When: Opens mid-July depending on crop. Hours 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Cost:* No admission fee. Cash or checks accepted.
Contact: 253-229-6438 or http://linboblueberries.com/.


Remlinger Farms
Where: 32610 N.E. 32nd St., Carnation
When: Open May through October. See Web site for hours, which may vary.
Cost:* You-pick is cash only per pound. Park admission (not required for those who just want to pick berries) is $11 per person. Cash and credit cards are accepted.
Family Days: Remlinger Farms has a busy schedule of special family events. Check out the calendar on its Web site for details.
Contact: 425-333-4135; www.remlingerfarms.com.


Sakuma Market Stand
The history of this place is rich: Sakuma’s founding family was interned in a camp for Japanese immigrants during World War II. Neighboring farmers helped run it until the Sakumas returned. Today, it’s a destination farm with many varieties of berries, lots of activities for families, and a bakery and ice cream shop on site. They sell organic plants, picked berries and you-pick berries.

Where: 17400 Cook Road, Burlington
When: June 1 through October. See Web site for hours and special dates.
Cost:* Admission is free, some rides cost $1. Payment methods taken are Visa, MasterCard, Discover, checks and cash.
Contact: 360-757-8004; www.sakumamarketstand.com.

* All berry prices had yet to be set as of press time. Check farms’ Web sites for 2009 prices.


Jessica Ward is a Kent freelance writer, blogger, small-business owner and mother of two daughters.

Linbo Blueberry Farm
1201 South Fruitland, Puyallup, WA 98371
www.linboblueberries.com

page updated: 7/11