Last Saturday, Theresa and I headed to Tougas Family Farm, a nice small family mostly Pick Your Own fruit farm near Worcester. It was the first farm that we went PYOing when we moved to Boston. It is IPM, and low spray, with a relatively nice environmental policy. It also has a farm kitchen, a petting zoo, and a playground. For full family fun.
As you can see, it’s not just fun for kids. And they often have baby goats… just think about that.
Tougas has a reasonable amount of PYO crops: strawberries, blueberries, cherries (limited time, let me tell you), raspberries, peaches, nectarines, and apples. All of them are really tasty.
So, we headed out to the blueberry patch to pick up a reasonable amount of blueberries.
They use netting around their blueberry patch- and Theresa and I are often on the fence about this practice. Some birds do get in. But we also see the farmers come and catch them (kindly) and release them in the afternoons.
This year, we endeavored to pick blueberries to freeze down and make jam. And munch on of course. We wanted to pick a more reasonable amount this year. Last year we managed to pick 26 pounds of blueberries. Which was great, but a little crazy and overboard, and we were still trying to eat them up by the beginning of this blueberry season.
We reasoned that we’d get one flat, and fill it, and that would be it. Last year we filled two flats to the brim. If we just keep it to one… we’ll be fine.
We went to the back of the patch and got started. Sooner or later other families started to fill into the patch, getting closer to us.
PYOing is an interesting endeavor, because I think that it brings us to an experience very closely tied to our ancient human roots- foraging for fruit. I think it certainly taps into our ‘monkey brain,’ similar to the crazy bingeing on fruit that you see when wandering chimpanzee groups come across a copse of ripe fruiting trees.
As people filled into the patch, I began to get this feeling of “oh no! they’re going to get the fruit! I need to pick more, faster!” Luckily, Theresa was there to calm me.
We picked blueberries. And picked more blueberries. And then some more. Finally, our flat of blueberries became so overfilled, we became a spectacle and a farmer brought us another flat. At that point, we let ourselves go, and let our “must. get. blueberries. now.” instinct take over.
We filled two blueberry flats. Just like last year. This year we only got 25 pounds of blueberries, instead of last year’s 26 pounds. You know, we showed some level of restraint………
We had a lot of fun. And got a lot of blueberries. I finally got to freezing them down, after eating a lot of them. I froze them all so that half we’ll keep frozen and when we have time we’ll jam the rest of them.
Luckily blueberries don’t need to be frozen on sheets to maintain individual berries. I just wash, dry well, and stick in bags, and pop them in the freezer.