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Pick your own local blueberries this summer

As summer progresses, it’s time to enjoy some of the best little products Quebec has on offer: blueberries. Across the Valley, there are many blueberry producers who can’t wait to have folks in their fields once again this year.

 

Several blueberries on a bush, backlit by a sunset
Blueberry season is already in full swing in the Valley PHOTO Bleuetière OliDan

 

In Saint Antoine Abbé, Bleuetière OliDan is getting ready for its third blueberry season, having only opened in 2020. Olivier Bigras, one of the owners, says that so far this year’s weather has been cooperative. “[The berries] are ripening better than last year. There was a winter frost this year where it got really cold, and some areas were affected more than others. But it’s been relatively good.” On top of that, the spring brought the right weather to help blueberries thrive. “We had a lot of water in the spring, so we haven’t really had to use the irrigation system. The fruits are bigger than normal.” This U-Pick is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes other berries as well.

Folks at Bleuetière La Planète Bleue in Saint Chrysostome are also thrilled that the weather has been better this year, after having lost 80 per cent of their blueberries in 2021 (which was their first season). Owner Stéphanie Thibert explains that “For the people who came to the U-Pick last year it was fine, but the biggest difference is that this year the plants are really full of blueberries… It’s going to be a great experience.” Starting on July 15, La Planète Bleue will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day for U-Pick and will also have a kiosk selling goodies like blueberry, onion and port confit. As well, there will be inflatable games and activities for children.

Thibert encourages folks to check out their local blueberry farmers this year. Buying locally really helps with “the price of gas and the mark that it has on the environment,” due to the inflation of gas prices as well as the pollution involved in importing fruit from far away. Buying local berries is great this way because “It comes right from the farm, so it cuts out the middleman.”

Linda Viau, owner of Bleuetière Linda et Ulrich, flags a new obstacle that many farmers are having this year: the labour shortage. Because of this, she will be selling pre-picked blueberries as much as possible but is unsure how many they will be able to provide. “The labour shortage problem is everywhere. The U-Pick will be more to help us out this year. We have to promote it and ask people to come help us out, otherwise the fruit will rot.” U-Pick has the added benefit of being an affordable way for berry lovers to fill their baskets. Bleuetière Linda et Ulrich is located right on the water in Saint Anicet and will be open from 8 a.m .to 5 p.m. each day. Viau invites people to come make a day out of it and enjoy a family picnic by the water.

With ideal weather and a shortage of pickers, it’s never been a better time to experience a U-Pick. Lots of blueberry farms are just starting to open their doors, including Ferme aux Mille Cailloux in Franklin, open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday to Sunday and at 10 a.m. otherwise. This farm offers many kinds of small fruits at different summer markets as well.

On July 15, Vergers de la Montée Covey Hill will be opening a blueberry U-Pick from 9 to 5 every day. They will be accepting cash only. Vergers Ivanhoe Faille, also on Covey Hill, will also be open 9 to 5 starting on July 15. Here, light meals and homemade products are on offer as well. Vergers Cassidy’s opened a U-Pick a little earlier on July 6; opening hours are from 9 to 5. And finally, Bleuetière Mario et Nathalie on Route 202 in Franklin does not have a blueberry U-Pick this year but will be selling pre-picked berries from Monday to Friday starting on July 14.

Regardless of where you go, it’s clear that blueberry season will be a great one this year. And with so many places to visit, there’s a tasty experience for everybody.

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