The DL on the PYOB (Pick-Your-Own-Berry) Situation in Massachusetts
Summer has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to pack away memories from our first summer in Massachusetts along with my white jeans. What follows are a couple of my favorite adventures we’ve taken during summer ‘16 to make the transition to fall a bit easier. The first is our inaugural trip to blueberry wonderland at Doe Orchards in Harvard, Mass.
We moved to Massachusetts almost three months ago and already we are acting more like adults. Not that we acted like complete children in San Francisco: I haven’t worn a bib outside of a steak house for a few years, but we are going to bed earlier, investing in quality furniture, and making an effort to explore our new city. I will call this phenomenon adventures in adulting.
Such an adventure during a New England summer would have to involve some form of agriculture. Having just moved from an area with relative proximity to the ‘salad bowl of America’ and wine country, we appreciate being able to see, and sometimes pick, a portion of the food that ends up on our table.
Maybe it was the slightly mushy carton of berries I selected at the market that week, or a subconscious desire for a summer dessert, but one Saturday afternoon in July we found ourselves driving to Doe Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts to wrangle some blue fruit.
A thirty minute jaunt from northern Cambridge will spit you out in the semi-rural area that is Doe Orchards. Park in the grass, and a rustic stand is the welcome mat to this lovely spot. Walk up to the stand and cartons overflowing with freshly picked fruit are waiting for you, which begs the question: to pick or not to pick? Assuming you didn’t sit on you thass for the half hour (or more) drive to buy pre-picked fruit, you’ll choose to PYOB (pick-your-own-berries). Let one of the sweet workers know you’re ready to forage and they will direct you to a stack of plastic buckets with thin rope at the entrance to the grove, and away you go! Though this time of the year was prime for a couple of different types of berries, we had a strong hankering for those baby blues, so we borrowed two buckets each and took off for the bushes.
Rows and rows of blueberry bushes were just ripe for the picking (ha, berry pun), so we roamed around and sought out the most ripe and delicious fruit. Having difficulty determining which berries are ready ones and which are not? There exist a few methods, my favorite being to taste test them, but another solid method is just to pull, and the ones that are liberated with the least amount of effort are ready to go. Experts say if you have to twist or tug the berry, then it’s probably not ready.
Though Doe Orchards does provide overhead netting to protect the berries (and you) from predatory birds, there wasn’t much besides the occasional cloud to protect us from the sun. Don your favorite wide brim hat, lather on the sunblock, or just hide under a blueberry bush to pick and create some shade.
In addition to being fun and delicious, blueberry picking is also a great cheap thrill for summer. A mere $22 purchased four huge cartons (around 10 – 12 cups!) of gorgeous fruit, a couple of hours of entertainment and loads of vitamin D. I challenged my boyfriend, Matt, to a blueberry pick-off which I lost, but had berry quality been a factor, I totally would have won. The fun continued when I was inspired to make my first blueberry pie!
Though blueberry season ended with summer, Doe Orchards offers apple picking through October. Check their website for apple varieties and availability, and add this experience to your fall to-do list. Happy picking!