We are deep in the midst of blueberry season here in the northeast and blueberry picking is one of our best-loved annual summer outings. Of all of the pick-your-own activities, picking blueberries is my favorite. If you time it right you are rewarded with handfuls of ripe berries that cascade off the bushes with the slightest touch of your fingers. Blueberry picking is also very kid-friendly, with bushes filled with fruit that is right at eye-level. Blueberries aren’t heavy like apples or peaches and no tree climbing is required. They freeze beautifully (I spread them on cookie sheets in one layer, freeze them on the sheets and then pour them into ziplock bags once they are frozen) and the sweetness of ripe, just-picked blueberries is one of the quintessential tastes of summertime.
Here are some of our favorite spots to pick these tiny, blue gems. Each of these is within 1 1/2 to 2 hours from New York City and make a great day-trip. Beyond blueberries, each place offers all kinds of pick-your-own produce, from flowers to snap peas to pumpkins and Christmas trees. So file them away for future reference!
Greig Farm, Red Hook, New York
My husband’s family has had a home in the wonderful Dutchess County village of Rhinebeck, New York since the late 1940s and we have been fortunate to spend lots of time in this beautiful area through the years. The nearby village of Redhook is home to Greig Farm, our go-to spot for pick-your-own when we are in Rhinebeck, growing blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples and pumpkins.
The farm’s has blueberry patches on both sides of it’s Pitcher Lane location with the larger one on the right as you approach the farm and the smaller (and I think prettier) patch on the left. Get your Greig picking pails upon arrival and head into the patch, a short stroll away from your car on either side. Greig’s location makes it the best of the four farms featured in this post for a weekend getaway. There is so much to do in and around this part of Dutchess County all year round and summer is a great time to visit.
Fishkill Farms, Fishkill, New York
I discovered Fishkill Farms back in 2009 when Kids Unplugged first started and spent a few seasons running children’s farm education programs there. Fishkill Farms has a rich history and is a very special place. Owned and operated by the Morgenthau family for over 100-years, the farm was originally started by Henry Morgenthau Jr., who was the Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Now in it’s 3rd generation, the farm is run by Robert Morgenthau, son of Henry and his own son Josh. Josh and Robert are committed to the ecological well-being of the farm, implementing sustainable growing practices and integrated pest management as they grow their gorgeous fruit trees (including apples, peaches, cherries, pears and plums), berries and organic vegetables.
It is easy to make a whole day out of a visit to Fishkill Farms. The blueberry patch is located a very short stroll from the farm store where you pick up your berry containers. When you are done picking, you can enjoy lunch on their back deck with it’s beautiful views of the farm, shop for produce and other locally made goods in the abundant farm market, stroll around the farm grounds, and visit the farms chickens and rabbits.
Jones Family Farms, Huntington, Connecticut
Owned and operated by the Jones family for 150-years, Jones Family Farms is home to over 200-acres of cultivated land growing Christmas trees, pumpkins and other squash, blueberries, and strawberries. Recently Jones added 5-acres of grapes to its list of crops and started it’s own winery. We’ve been cutting our own tree here since our oldest daughter’s first Christmas and blueberry picking is a delight.
Upon your arrival at the farm you are given your picking pails before hopping aboard a tractor-pulled wagon for your trip to the blueberry patch. With 15-acres of blueberry bushes, there is no shortage of berries and the farmers direct you to the rows where you should pick. Fill your buckets to the brim and when you’re ready, the wagon will bring you back.
Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut
Located in the midst of beautiful farmland in rural Middlefield, Connecticut, Lyman Orchards is a destination in itself. A working farm since 1741, Lyman offers a wide variety of pick-your-own produce along with lots of family friendly activities from wagon and pony rides to sunflower and corn mazes depending on the season. Lyman is also home to three golf courses, event space, and their enormous farm store, The Apple Barrel featuring both farm and local Connecticut produce along with an abundance of baked goods and other specialty items.
Lyman Orchards is huge, with several different picking locations around the farm each with it’s own distinct parking area. Follow the signs to the blueberry patch which is right next to it’s parking area. The last time we went to Lyman for blueberries it was on a whim. My dad lives just a few minutes drive from the farm and when we were visiting once last summer, one of my girls and I popped over at the end of the day for some quick picking while the other two stayed behind. We arrived at the patch with only about 45-minutes until they closed for the day and were given pails to wear on a long piece of twine around our necks. We headed into the patch and were greeted by such an abundance of berries that we picked about 10 pounds in less than an hour! Needless to say we were enjoying blueberry pancakes well into the winter the following year.
Blueberry Picking Tips
- Time it right! Start thinking about a blueberry picking outing at the beginning of July and call ahead to the farms to see how the crop is doing for that season. Some years we’ve gone to the farm the exact same week as the previous summer only to find the berries either picked-over or not yet ready. Every growing season is different and it’s such a joy to find bushes that are positively burgeoning with ripe berries!
- Bring lots of water and be sure to wear sunscreen. Blueberries are at their best in this region from mid-July through early August and picking in the sun is hot work. If you don’t pick early in the day, be sure to lube up with sunscreen and drink lots of water.
- Pick only the bluest berries. The darkest berries with a bit of white bloom are the ripest on the bush and fall easily from their stems when touched or lightly plucked. Leave any berries with a reddish hue to ripen for the next batch of pickers to come to the patch.
- Stay put! When blueberries are abundant, choose a bush and stick with it. I like to sit on the ground in the bit of shade the bushes sometimes provide and pick my way around the bottom of the bush working my way up. And be sure to get the berries all over the bush–don’t just pick those in the front and then move on. Pick all the ripe berries you find on a bush before moving to the next one. Kids, of course, like instant gratification and will likely do exactly that, picking all of the berries that are at their eye level before moving on to the next bush.
- Be sure to sample a few. One of the best parts about blueberry picking is popping some of the ripe berries into your mouth while you pick. Just make sure most of them get into your pail!