The mercury hit at least 93 degrees today, so naturally the only sensible thing to do was go blueberry picking at midday. Naturally.
Miss Thistle, Little Thistle and I headed to Media, Pennsylvania today to check out Indian Orchards, an organic orchard with pick-your-own options. Specifically, we were after organic blueberries, freshly picked. Sure, I could buy organic blueberries at the store, but that’s not any fun, plus they come in a horrid plastic clamshell. We have our own blueberry bushes here at The Thistle Field (also organic), but they aren’t yet producing at a rate that is high enough to satiate our outlandish desire for fresh blueberries. So, we plotted a few destinations in the area, packed up the car with snacks and our refillable water bottles, and headed out.
We enjoyed a pleasant drive with very little traffic on the way to the orchard, and Miss Thistle kept asking me how I was going to find it if I hadn’t been there before. I’m happy to report, that was no trouble at all. When we arrived, charmingly imperfect, hand-lettered signs (not pictured below) directed us down a bumpy lane to the orchard. I had brought my market basket and some smaller containers, but was happy to use the orchard’s picking basket offered by the cashier. The basket had a little cloth tent over the top to keep our berries in the shade, which was essential on a day like today.
We walked to the blueberry bushes, which were shrouded under a huge canopy of green netting. I had done a bit of pre-reading about the orchard, and had learned that some of their berry bushes are over 70 years old! The blueberries were hanging on the bushes in tantalizing, ripe clumps, and we got to work right away. The blueberry bushes were positively loaded with berries, and we filled our containers with ease. Well, maybe that’s being generous to call it ‘ease’ … after all, it was over 90 degrees and I was holding a nearly 20-pound baby. But, the plentiful berries meant we could camp out at a single spot for quite a lot of picking before moving on to the next location.
After a while, sweat was running down my back in serious, no-nonsense rivulets. Little Thistle was experimenting with the fun game of repeatedly taking off his sun hat and throwing it. My thigh muscles started to complain, workout-style, from all the squats and lunges involved. Miss Thistle declared herself hungry and started to nibble the wares in our basket. We had filled six berry boxes, and I figured that would be enough for one day, so we headed back to the orchard farm stand to settle up and return the basket.
As we trucked home with our berries, I felt a sense of satisfaction that came close to what I feel when we harvest the food we have grown ourselves. No, we didn’t grow these berries, but we did pick them, and the experience was authentic and fulfilling. I am looking forward to the day when our berry bushes are as benevolent as the bushes at Indian Orchards. Until then, I would not hesitate to return … we had an excellent time!
I was equally satisfied that the experience generated no trash, and no plastic packaging. Sure, we had to drive a little, but we combined other errands with our trip, and I think it was educational for Miss Thistle to see how orcharding is done. Plus, I am happy to support an orchard that is growing organically. I know that running an orchard is tough business, and the threat of pests is no joke.
Have you ever gone berry picking? Do you have a favorite orchard? I wish I knew of more organic orchards, but I am happy to have discovered this little gem.