Sweet, silvery-indigo summer gems. Most blueberry devotees fell hard for the superfruit’s full-flavoured goodness long before scientists identified blueberries' cancer preventing, antioxidant and anti-aging properties.
Blueberries are among the few major fruits native to North America, and BC happens to be the world’s largest highbush blueberry producer. Last year’s crop came in at 43 million kilograms, and 2012 promises to be just as bountiful.
While BC’s berries will make their way to your local markets, it’s by far more fun to embark on a u-pick blueberry picking adventure. The perks? Cheaper berries, friendly farmers, sunshine, and, if you're lucky, a hearty slice of blueberry pie with soft serve ice cream from the u-pick berry farm stand.
Here are the top five places to pick your own blueberries in the Lower Mainland.
Emma Lea Farms
Emma Lea Farms, Ladner
Emma Lea Farms in Ladner has the old-fashioned and friendly atmosphere a city slicker spending the day in the country might desire. About 30 minutes south of Vancouver, the farm has been in the same family since 1885.
Blueberry season is going strong as of late July, with even more big, beautiful berries appearing daily. The farm is open seven days a week for u-pick. Check the Emma Lea Facebook page for details on weather and yield.
Don’t miss the Emma’s Ice Cream Stand, where you can add blueberries to milkshakes or a scoop of vanilla and a warm scone.
Krause Berry Farms & Estate Winery
Krause Berry Farms & Estate Winery, Langley
Krause Berry Farms, one hour outside Vancouver in Langley, is your best bet for family fun. There’s nothing they don’t do. Start with the blueberry u-pick ($1.70/lb.), running July 19 to mid September. Then stay for the day.
The entire family will appreciate lunch on Krause Berry Porch, where you set yourself down on a tractor stool and gorge on Krause-produce-inspired fare: roast corn pizza, berry milkshakes, berry waffles, berry pies, berry shortcakes, berry donuts . . . you get the point. All made fresh in the farm’s harvest kitchen.
Kids appreciate the petting zoo and hen house. Adults are berry happy about the new estate winery, open summer 2012.
Driediger Farms, Langley
Venture an hour outside of Vancouver into Langley, where you’ll find Driediger Farms, a reliable 160-acre spread that grows strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, rhubarb and soon haskup berries in the warm summer months.
The u-pick blueberries here run $1.65/lb. and the seasonal staff are well-versed in all things berry. Test them by asking why the inside of a blueberry is green when raw and blue when cooked.
Driediger is also family-friendly, with regular contests for cutest kid picker and a children’s general store. Adults trying to make use of their sweet haul will appreciate Driediger's conservation tips.
They also teach home chefs how to distinguish between conserve, jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves and spreadable fruit with recipes.
Blueberry Junction, Abbotsford
Blueberry Junction’s farm shop, in Abbotsford, resembles the last charming stop on the berry express train. The u-pick fields that extend behind it yield some of BC’s best crops, thanks to organic farming practices.
If you go for the u-pick, open as of July 23, you won't need much tinkering to make the berries taste great in a recipe. Expect to get addicted. But what’s the worst that can happen? Violet Beauregarde recovered from turning into a blueberry.
When driving an hour and 20 minutes outside of the city isn’t convenient, scoop these berries up at Granville Island Farmer’s Market on Thursdays.
Maan Farms is the cool kid of berry farms. Its logo resembles a tattoo. Instead of a petting zoo, it's got a Goatel 6. Peacocks strut around the premises. Hip tykes hang in the Kidz Corral. Chocolate crepes replace the ubiquitous farm kitchen waffle. But what about the berries? Or should one say “berriez”?
Voted Abbotsford’s favourite u-pick destination, Maan Farms’ blueberries consist of Duke (known for size) and Bluecrop (known for sweetness). Maan Farms grows two types to extend the picking season as long as possible, and expects abundant berry yields through the end of August.
BC's Lower Mainland is flush with farms that offer some of the finest blueberries around, so grab a basket and start picking this amazing superfruit
Taraneh Ghajar Jerven is a freelance writer and editor. She’s an insatiable culture sleuth. She specializes in profiling craftsmen and tracking food trends. Fashion brings her joy. Taraneh writes for Inside Vancouver, Montecristo, Vancouver Magazine, Western Living, Condo and GuestLife’s Vancouver City Guide. She also edits the hyper-local neighbourhood blog Kitsilano.ca. Email