The sounds of singing and acoustic guitar rose in the air, drifting over the endless rows of blueberry bushes like a summer breeze. The clouds in the distance began to gather- a storm forming in Chiefland by the Suwanee River perhaps? It would be a while before they drifted across this farm, a refreshing afternoon shower to chase the humidity away, at least for an hour or two.
My hand closed over a set of three dark blueberries, each as round as a nickel. Two of them hit the growing mound of berries in the plastic bucket strapped to my waist. The third hit my tongue. I bit down and it exploded with a juicy sweetness. I smiled. Heaven on the Red, White & Blues Farm in North Central Florida.
Blueberry Picking with Kids
I went blueberry picking with my kids when they were both in elementary school. Together, with my sister and mom, we roamed a berry farm in the Ocala National Forest. My daughter ate more than she picked and emerged from the bushes with a purple mouth and not-so-innocent look on her face. Since that time, I’ve meant to go picking again and recapture those family memories, but the picking times slipped by, noted and forgotten. And then I heard about a farm in Williston, Florida: The Red, White & Blues Farm.
7 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Kids to a U-Pick Farm
- They need to know where their food comes from
- It gets them off of their electronics
- It’s good to get fresh air
- To support your local farmer: no farms- no real food
- To support the farm to table movement
- To make family memories
- A family that picks together sticks together (yeah, I made that up lol)
The Red, White & Blues Farm in Williston, Florida
Blueberry season in Florida usually lasts from April through May, though can be longer (or shorter) due to the weather. With that in mind, off the beaten track we went, in search of the Red, White & Blues U-Pick Farm.
I had my daughter direct me down the long country roads to the aptly named “U Pick Lane”. A welcoming shady oak bows over a rustic wooden country store. Beyond it a silo has been transformed into an outdoor canteen. Rocking chairs and long farm tables await under a porch at the on-site restaurant, and all around rows and rows of blueberry bushes.
Of the 100 acres of this family-owned Williston farm, only 38 are blueberries- over 90,000 bushes and 9 varieties. Each different variety is marked with a color-coded marker, and they encourage you to try them all. From Prima Donna to Emerald, Sweet Crisp & Jewel. They have a map of the varieties and color codes at the entrance.
My daughter and I had plastic buckets strapped around our waist, leaving our hands free for picking. And after a quick intro to the layout of the field, we sent off into the greenery, swallowed up by the bushes bulging with beautiful berries. Around us birds flitted through the air. I could hear snippets of conversation- a french family discussing their afternoon. Two moms and their kids planning a play date.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. A spitting of rain. We headed back to the giant oak to get the berries weighed, and popped into the farm store. Blueberry jams, blueberry cobbler, blueberry muffins, blueberry milkshakes and even blueberry lollipops! The store also carries local honey and butter, but we had our eyes on the blue-stuff. I had a blueberry slush. My daughter had a blueberry milkshake. And yes, they were both delicious.
We sat for a while under the restaurant porch as the the musician sang and the storm lingered on the farm’s edge. Then with our neatly packed box of freshly picked blueberries, we weaved our way back to the car, pausing in the kids’ play area at the bright red old fashioned water pumps lined up in a row. We hand-pumped water into pipes to run rubber ducks through a course. My daughter laughed when she won, running the yellow duck through a second time. Farm memories made on our blueberry picking day.
Sure you can easily pick up a plastic container of blueberries from your local grocery store, but the memory of taking your kids blueberry picking on a farm will be much sweeter.
What Can You Do With Blueberries?
Eat them fresh! They are so sweet and delicious just to snack on. My kids love it when I bake fresh blueberry muffins for breakfast. They eat them with cream cheese. I add fresh blueberries to salads, put them in pancakes and throw them into the blender for smoothies. They go great on top of ice cream or mixed with Greek yogurt and honey. I have yet to make a whole blueberry pie, but I have added them to my apple pies 🙂
Things to Know Before You Go:
- The Red, White & Blues Farm is located at 3250 Northeast 140th Ave, Williston, Florida 32696
- Contact number: 352.529.0594
- Call ahead for hours- subject to change.
- Blueberry picking season is April-May, although it can be longer, or shorter due to weather.
- This is a working farm. Wear closed-toe shoes.
- It can get very sunny. Bring a hat/protective clothing.
- You are charged by the weight of what you pick ($5 per lb u-pick)
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