Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with ABC
-Sound of Music, Do-Re-Mi
When you’re a kid growing up with the agricultural bounty of the Pacific Northwest, you learn that A is for Apples, B is for Berries and C is for Cherries.
The apples are growing; we will pick them up in the Fall.
Summer is in our midst and the season for sweet berries and delightful cherries.
It’s time for what has become a summer family tradition: a visit to Bill’s Berry Farm to pick berries and cherries.
(The strawberries are out mid-May to mid-June, raspberries mid-June to October, blueberries mid-June to July, blackberries July to August and cherries from mid-June to mid-July.)
We go to Bill’s Berry Farm for their specialties: farm fresh produce and family fun.
The farm is located in Grandview in Eastern Washington, a 3 hour drive for Seattle residents and 40 minutes for those coming from the Tri-Cities. Driving to Bill’s Berry Farm, you pass other farms and vineyards. In front of the farm’s ample parking space are lots of cows for kids to moo over.
Although we come here for the fruits, it’s almost obligatory for us to make a stop at Farmer Bill’s tree fort to the left of the entrance. A tire swing hangs from one of the tree’s sturdy branches; when you’re around age 5 or 6, it’s a place where you can make a new friend. And what fun to be had, climbing up a deck where you could survey the farm from a high perch then gleefully go down the tube slide.
When the kids have had their fill of the tree fort, then it’s time to go berry and cherry picking.
We started coming here the summer when both kids can pick blueberries that they can carry in their fruit buckets. We see families with strollers and are reminded of how fast our kids are growing up. A neighbor Northwest state’s travel campaign (yes, Visit Idaho) tells us to take time to enjoy our families: “Childhood is short. Summer is shorter.”
We walk up the dusty road, then make a turn towards the blueberry bushes, passing by the raspberry bushes.
The farm has four varieties of blueberries: Draper is great for baking, but Duke, Toro and Chandler are all great to our taste buds.
Visits to Upick farms like Bill’s Berry Farm make great family bonding times. The farm visits also serve as pre-school and kindergarten versions of Introduction to Field Biology. It was not there this visit but there was a prior year when there was a board in the farm’s play area explaining honeybees and pollination.
After we gathered enough blueberries, we made a right to the cherry trees.
The farm has Bings and Vans. Ahhh…and our favorite: Rainier Cherries! The cherry trees are amazing; there are fruit that are within reach of the little fruit pickers. No ladders needed.
When you visit Upick farms this summer, remember to have your family wear sensible shoes, sunscreen and stay well-hydrated. Oh, and hand washing: we don’t want to get or spread germs, especially in the farm.
After the fruit-picking, you can pick up some food at the farm’s BBQ stand; there are tables and benches or bring a blanket, have a picnic and enjoy the farm atmosphere.
Health Benefits of Berries and Cherries
All those berries and cherries, what do we do with them? They oust grocery bought sweets for summer snacks! Since the kids “worked hard” to pick them, they tend to eat the Upick fruits more than if we bought them from the store.
The blueberries also go into breakfast pancakes, muffins, smoothies or become toppings for cereals and oatmeal. There are never any cherries left for cooking in our household; they get eaten as they are.
Blueberries and cherries contain anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants scavenge free radicals and among its good effects are promoting brain and skin health, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease and cancer and help healthy digestion.
And if your family is wanting to pick up wild berries on the trail, here’s a link to Washington Trails Association’s Berry Picking Hikes.
Bill’s Berry Farm Address: 3674 N County Line Road Grandview, Washington 98930
Have a Berry (and Cherry) Happy Summer!