Summer Family Tradition: Berries U Pick

One of my favorite family traditions as a child was picking berries in the summer.  We’d come home with buckets filled with strawberries, saskatoon berries, and raspberries.  Across the border I’ve also picked blackberries and blueberries.  The best part of the whole experience was getting to eat what we picked in the fields and laughing at the stains on family members’ fingers after the event.  It’s a great time to reconnect with our hunter-gatherer ways and enjoy the short-lived summer that Canada has to offer.  It’s an activity that is suitable for all ages as well making it perfect for younger and older members of the family (though in recent years my back has been aching more after the event).

Here are some tips and tricks to make a memorable berry picking experience for your family.

Research the Farm: Before heading out, research U-pick farms in your area to find one that offers the type of berries you want to pick and to check their operating hours and availability.  Also, read reviews or ask for recommendations to ensure a positive experience.  For my own experience, I asked a colleague, also did some reading on Google Reviews before heading off to the farm located 1 hour away from the city.  Had I not known what to expect and the reputation of the farm, it would be a far drive and impact the experience of a family outing.

Arrive early: U-pick farms can get busy, especially on weekends.  Arriving early in the day gives you the advantage of picking the best berries and avoiding the crowds.  We arrived at 10 am in the morning and at this time, many people were already in the fields.  I found morning time to be the most tolerable temperature-wise, since at midday the temperature climbed quickly, and the sun was much more fierce.

Stay hydrated and wear appropriate clothing: Bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated, especially if it’s a hot day.  I found that dressing appropriately was also important here.  I was prepared with my SPF 60 sunscreen and sun protective clothing.  Out in the fields, there was little shade, and if you’re not a fan of the beating sun then getting prepared with a water bottle, sunhat, sunscreen, and long-sleeved clothing is important.

Have Fun and Take Photos: Enjoy the experience with your family and friends.  Take photos to capture the memories of your U-pick adventure.  I really enjoyed the whole experience.  Being mostly an indoors person during the rest of the year, summer allows me to connect with nature and spend quality time with the family.

Bring a cooler: This is something I wish I had done.  Without a cooler in the car, I found many of the berries had softened and become further ripened in the heat of the car.  Next time I decide on this activity, I would definitely bring a cooler to store the berries in the transport home.