Fresh from the field

What could be more fun for a family outing than to pick your own fruit? And with blueberry season upon us and the Blueberry Festival about to unveil an even better second year, You Pick Farms are the perfect way to join in on the all the fuss.

Hernando County has a few farms that dedicate part of their fields to the plump little blue jewels that are currently in season. In fact, according to the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, blueberry season begins in December and runs through April. A delayed start to the season because of unusual weather means the berries may stick around a bit longer.

Some farms predict they will be fresh out around the second week in May. Others will have bushes for self-picking through June.

It is best to call ahead before going out to these farms to insure there are still berries left for picking. Other considerations listed below might help make the event even more enjoyable:

•Dress comfortably in loose fitting clothing

•Wear a hat and sunscreen

•Bring your own container, unless otherwise specified

•Select only firm, ripe barriers

•Be careful not to remove the tops of the berries

•It is best to pick every ripe berry on a bush rather than jump around from plant to plant

•Bring ice to keep berries cool

The following are a list of U Pick Blueberry Farms in Hernando County:

Butch’s Blueberries, 5361 White Road, Brooksville, a 4-acre, family owned blueberry farm that boasts no pesticides. Butch’s is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Contact information: (352) 238-3060 or (352) 650-0756.

JG Ranch, 17200 Wiscon Road in Brooksville, reserves about five of their 160 acres to grow their blueberry bushes. Ten years ago, after being told they had prime property to grow blueberries, George and Joan Casey planted by hand about 2000 plants per acre. They are open Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. anticipate their berries will last until the middle of May. Contact information: (352) 799-0556.

Bob and Donna’s U-pick Blueberry Farm, 3124 Saturn Road in Brooksville. Bob and Donna’s grows a variety of blueberries that ripens after other farm’s berries are gone. They can be reached at (352) 848-1136.

Health benefits for blueberries are endless as are the options for enjoying spring’s best sweet pick.

Fresh from the field
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