There is something nostalgic about picking berries in the summer. Whenever I take my kids to a blueberry patch, I am transported to my own childhood and I can picture my grandmother in her wide brim straw hat picking berries from a wild blueberry bush in rural Choctaw County, Alabama. Even as a child, I found the repetitive task of picking berries to be soothing. It gave me a sense of accomplishment to watch my bucket fill to the brim as a result of my labors.
As a parent, I have tried to be intentional about taking my kids on blueberry picking adventures. A few years ago we discovered Grabuck Farms, a nondescript berry batch that was only about 10 minutes from our home in Riverchase, right outside of Oak Mountain State Park. The beautiful pasture was filled with berry bushes and plenty of space for the kids to run around once they tired of berry picking.
Payments at Grabuck were made on the honor system, another gentle nod to the nostalgia of my childhood. Occasionally, we would see the owners outside and we enjoyed chatting with them as well.
I recently learned that the Grabuck family sold their farm and the new owners do not plan to open the farm to the public for u-pick. While my heart sank a little when I heard the news, it was a reminder to me that sometimes change is the only constant. Thank you, Grabuck Farms, for the memories and the bounty of berries as well.
There are several other farms in the Birmingham area that offer u-pick options during June’s blueberry season. Be sure to call ahead to confirm hours of operation, or check out each location’s Facebook pages before venturing out. I have listed a few options below, but for a more complete listing, check out www.pickyourown.org.
Petals from the Past - Jemison, AL
K&D Farm - Woodstock, AL
Judy Bee’s Honey and Berry Farm - Mt. Olive, AL
Lyon Blueberry Farm - Wilsonville, AL
Mountain Meadows - Columbiana, AL
Once you have finished picking, the next question is often, what will I do with all of these berries?
Here is one of my favorite fruit recipes, and it is perfect for summertime:
2 lb. can crushed pineapple (include juice)
3 cups fresh blueberries
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 package yellow cake mix
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13” baking dish, and layer all ingredients in the pan in the order listed above. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly. To cut the sweetness, serve with a scoop of ice cream on top.