CAPITAL REGION — When Saratoga Springs is buzzing with crowds and traffic, I escape to the land of blueberries.
Winney’s Farm in Schuylerville is my peaceful paradise, a quiet place where I can rest my mind while plucking juicy nuggets to mix into yogurt or bake in muffins and pie. In this field of fruit, butterflies flit over purple asters and Queen Anne’s Lace and in the distance mountains and barns are silhouetted against the sky.
“It’s a very good crop,” says Byron J. Winney, the guy who runs Saratoga County’s largest blueberry farm. “The winter caused some disease problems, but we’ve been pruning that out.”
More than 30 of the farm’s 80 acres are covered with blueberry bushes, and there are 24 varieties with names like Duke, Sierra, Brigitta, Blue Jay and Liberty. Each variety has a different flavor and sugar content and reaches maturity at a different time.
“They are like wine grapes, and we treat them like wine grapes,” Winney says.
And as with wine grapes, taste is affected by rainfall and soil.
Blueberry plants, which produce for 75 years, are pruned regularly and the pH of the soil must be tested.
Picking is easy for all ages, as the waist-high bushes yield their fruit without much bending or stretching of the body. One simply pulls the little gems off a small, leafy branch and drops them into a plastic bucket.
At Winney’s, pickers can bring a lunch and sit in the field at a picnic table, spread a blanket in the grass or lounge under a big maple tree at the edge of the field. Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and water bottles are recommended while picking in the sunny fields.
At Winney’s, this year’s picking started July 4 and will end around mid-August, Winney says.
Looking for a place to pick blueberries? Here’s a list of more than a dozen in our area:
• Winney’s Farm, Schuylerville. 695-5547, Facebook
• Bowman’s Orchards, Rexford. 371-2042, www.bowmanorchards.com
• Blueberry Hill Solar Organic, Galway. 859-6925, Facebook
• Eagle’s View Farm, Galway. 882-9199, www.eaglesviewfarm.weebly.com
• Blueberry Hill, Oppenheim. 203-223-1796, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Meadowlark Farms, Broadalbin. 883-6542, Facebook
• Bohringer’s Fruit Farm, Middleburgh. 827-5783, Facebook
• Beloved Farm, Cambridge. 677-8226, www.ourbelovedfarm.com
• Stu-Berry Acres, Argyle. 638-8926
• Hay Berry Farm, Hoosick Falls. 285-9039, www.hayberryfarm.org
• Indian Ladder Farms, Altamont. 765-2956, www.indianladderfarms.com
This story originally appeared in The Daily Gazette.