Wednesday, August 25, 2010
U-Pick is amazing!
Can you believe that I've lived here my whole life and never visited a U-Pick berry farm? Well the time has come, I thought, to correct this gross oversight in my agricultural education. I recently visited Roy's Raspberries, just a mere 10 minutes drive from the city. A quick left off of Highway 16A, a couple clicks past the Devon overpass is a hideaway I've probably driven by a hundred times. There's a sign on the highway, so you really can't miss it, but if you need to, you can call ahead and ask for directions. The picking should still be good for a couple weeks, I think.
At Roy's Raspberry Farm "Alberta's Finest" berries are thriving. Many of the bushes have been around since the 70's when Roy Boyko first planted on his 20 acres. They grow about a dozen different varieties of raspberries - Thornless, Summit, Souris, Red River, Qualicum, Newburg, Mammoth, Jewel, Honey Queen, Fall Gold, Double Delight, Chief, Boyne, and Bounty. Did you even know there were so many kinds of raspberries? I guess I should have, but when you hear that 97% of plant diversity has disappeared from our supermarkets since the 1950's it's difficult to conceptualize this when it comes to actual species.
My sister and I ventured out into the field with our homemade berry picking buckets securely fastened around our necks with measuring tape and shoelaces to keep both hands free for easier picking. Lorraine Boyko, wife of Roy's son Harvey who now runs the farm, gave us a rundown of the procedures and offered us old car mats to sit on so we could get down low where the berries were growing.
We walked a good distance away from the main house and the highway, though unable to get away from the noise of the traffic. When we found a spot that looked good, my sister and I got down to it, grabbing handfuls of berries - half of which made it into the buckets, the other half somehow ended up in our happy tummies... I really don't know how that happened...
We picked and ate for about a half hour, walking around the fields and sampling some of the other berry varieties. We focused on the oldest bushes with the most fruit, which we discovered later were Boyne raspberries. Sweet, tart, and juicy, the bright crimson berries were honestly the most raspberry-tasting berries I've ever tried. Nothing tastes better than fresh picked fruits and veggies, and this was an experience I'll never forget. What's more, I'm looking for reasons to go back as soon as possible...
Back at the hut where we received our instructions and mats we settled up with Lorraine and for all the raspberries we could pick and eat, it came out to $6.75(!) There are recipes for muffins, pie, and a summery beverage all using their fresh raspberries. I haven't yet tried them since we ate all the raspberries before I got a chance, but the recipe sheet is going in my need-to-try book for sure.
U-Pick, where have you been all my life?