My friend Janet and I went to check out a new blueberry farm this morning and between the two of us, we picked almost a hundred pounds in about two hours!!!
Estill Farms (aka Uncle Paula's Blueberries) is located west of Drain on Hwy 38. It's about a 40 mile drive from my house (37 miles from the UCC exit on I-5) so we wanted to make it worth our while. We started off picking their Draper variety. The bushes are small (perfect for kids!) but, oh, were they loaded with big, beautiful berries! Our recent heat wave has taken its toll and some of the berries are beginning to shrivel a little, but there were plenty of dark, sweet, firm berries.
Estill Farms provides picking buckets, but we had our own small buckets on belts (so we could pick with both hands) and empty them into their larger buckets. We quickly tired of bending over, but then we figured out it was easier to just hold our small buckets right under the clusters of berries and lightly run our fingers over them and the ripe berries would fall straight into the bucket. Fastest picking ever!
After we filled six large buckets plus our small ones with Drapers, we drove back to the pay station and decided to pick a few Libertys, which they had just opened for picking today. The Liberty berries have incredible flavor, a bit tarter than the Drapers and perfect for fresh eating. (I freeze most of our berries and we use them in smoothies, so it doesn't really matter what type I pick for that.) The Liberty bushes are tall, not much bending over, so we went back to the bucket-on-a-belt method.
We chatted with the owners while they weighed our berries and learned that this is only their second year doing u-pick. Paula Estill has been at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market the past two weeks and that's how I found out about their farm. It's great to have another blueberry farm in the area, especially since their harvest seems to be a bit later than the others, extending the season for all of us u-pickers.
If you go:
The address is 6680 Hwy. 38. (541)-836-7612.
U-pick berries are $1.25/lb.
Bring shallow containers to transfer your berries to after they are weighed and paid for.
There's a very clean port-a-potty and a handwashing station right near the first rows of berries.
If you're new to picking and need tips on storing blueberries, read this.
Blueberry season won't last much longer, so get 'em while you can.