City Pickers

June 25, 2012 · 10 comments

In a move that would have shocked my 10-year old self, we have become a family of berry-pickers. What feels like a lifetime ago, I loaded up my 3 1/2-year old and 1-year old (my third child still a proverbial twinkle-in-the-eye), and drove to a farm about 20 miles outside of Athens, Georgia to pick strawberries. We returned each year, eventually adding blueberries to the list. Then we moved to Indiana, and for the past three years I’ve loaded up the car and driven half an hour to a berry farm on the north side of the city, once again in pursuit of short-lived farm-fresh berries.

Because that’s what you have to do when you live in a city. To pick berries, you have to load up and drive to the country.

Unless, of course, you don’t.

I could hardly believe it when an article in last week’s Indianapolis Star profiled a blueberry farm in the middle of one of the most strip-mall-plagued areas of our city. A mere 10-minutes from my house. As if that wasn’t enough to shock the berries out of my jam, the farm is also organic.

This city, I’ll tell ya. It has yet to cease to amaze me.

So last week I loaded up an 8, 6, and 3 year old, and made the very short drive to Driving Wind Blueberry Farm. We were the second car to pull up when they opened at 9am on a hot morning, hats on, buckets at-the-ready.

My kids. Minus the 3-year old, who could mostly just be expected to not pick pink berries — my kids were champions of picking. They attacked bushes independently, picking them almost entirely clean of ripe blue berries. After 45 minutes of picking, we had about 7 pounds, had picked a whole row, and had just enough time to pay and chat up the owners a bit before I had a full-fledged heat-induced trifecta-meltdown on my hands (I guess my genes finally kicked in).

And these berries. They are the best blueberries I’ve had in recent memory. Sweet, juicy, completely addictive by the handful.

We’re freezing most of them — using them all through the year in muffins, on pancakes, and in smoothies. But I experimented this week with a blueberry frozen yogurt (tastes like a frozen sweet-tart! recipe below), and have plans for a grain-free tart in coming days.

I almost didn’t post this story, because it ends with bad news for the locals: the farm is just about picked out. The shrubs are not yet mature, only 3 feet high, and the demand for the crop far outweighed supply. This weekend, the facebook page offered appointments for two final picking days, and I snatched one up as soon as I got the message (at time of posting, there were still spots available!). But even if you live near and don’t get to pick, rest assured that next year the shrubs will be an additional foot tall, with more plantings in the works. Pond-irrigated, bee-pollinated, organically-grown blueberries, up to 6 eventual acres if plans hold up.

Just what a city needs.

………………………………………

Recipe: Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
(naturally-sweetened, GAPS-adaptable)

: makes about 1 quart
Adapted closely from a recipe in The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz

The yogurt is richer when using Greek yogurt, or strained yogurt. To make your own strained yogurt: line a colander with a very thin tea towel or several layers of cheesecloth. Nest into another bowl, and pour 3 cups yogurt into the colander. Cover with a plate, and let sit on the counter or in your refrigerator for 4-6 hours. The thickened yogurt should reduce by half, giving you the amount needed for this recipe. If desired, store the leftover liquid in the bowl (whey) in a jar in your refrigerator for up to 6 weeks — it can be used for lacto-fermentation or in smoothies for extra probiotic boost.

This recipe can be made legal for the GAPS diet by using 24-hour yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt, greek yogurt, or strained yogurt (see note)
  • 3/4 cup mild honey
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a blender, combine the yogurt, honey, blueberries and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. If desired, pass the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds.
  2. Chill completely in the refrigerator, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

 

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{ 8 comments }

emily June 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

hey, i know this place! i pass it every time i go to the dog park. i didn’t realize that you weren’t aware of it. sounds like fun! i’ve only been blueberry picking maybe once or twice, but i quite liked it.
also, oh my goodness your children are adorable.

amy b. June 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

I was away this past week and didn’t see this article. Thanks for blogging about it… I’ll be in the know for next year!

katy June 26, 2012 at 9:13 am

Amy — glad I happened upon the article, which is odd as I rarely read the paper ; ) Now we all know for next year!

designhermomma June 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm

This place is at the top of my to-do list, which means it probably won’t get done.

No. I’m thinking Thursday.

katy June 26, 2012 at 9:12 am

no, don’t go Thursday! they’re picked out for the year : (

Jennifer June 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

Thanks for posting this! I live in the Indianapolis area and had no idea this existed. Can’t wait to check them out next year. Now, if I can only find a place to pick organic strawberries…

katy June 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

Jennifer, you and me both! I asked these guys if they had plans for strawberries, and they sounded doubtful — but that if they ever did they’d grow them in tubes (? — no idea what that means). From what I’ve read, it’s *really* hard to grow organic strawberries. Kinda like apples — it might be easier in California, but here it’s near-impossible (as a business — it might be easier as a gardener).

bethanyrx June 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I’M SO EXCIIIIIITED! Obvs we didn’t get a chance to pick this year, but I grew up 1/4 mi from an organic blueberry farm and still have some in the freezer from my trip up there last year. But I saw this blurb in the paper and I’m really looking forward to next year.

And that yogurt.
And that tart. 😉

~B

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