Seeing Blue: 10 Organic & Natural U-Pick Blueberry Farms
July may be National Blueberry Month, but for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, it’s early August when the bushes are at their berry best. With more than 40 blueberry farms across the state, and dozens within a short drive of Seattle, we live in a veritable Mecca for blueberry lovers. And, if you’ve never tried picking your own before, blueberries are one of the easiest berries for you and your kids to pick (no thorns and the ripe ones roll off the bushes right into your palm!). To top it all off, if you’re hoping to add more organic food into your family’s diet, blueberries are the all-star success story of organic and natural farming practices in our area. That means, if you’re out on a u-pick adventure, you can fill your bucket (and your belly) to your heart’s delight without a moment’s worry about pesticides or chemicals.
Whether you’re looking to fill your freezer with these lovely, antioxidant-filled orbs for year-round baking and snacking, or if you just want to make a single scrumptious cobbler (or these gluten-free cakes) bursting with the perfect hand-picked berries, we’ve hand-selected the top organic and top natural u-pick blueberry farms for you to check out with your family.
Tips before you go:
What to bring: Bring berry buckets and some giant ziplock baggies to bring home your loot! Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, sturdy shoes and lots of water are also good to pack along. Most fields are in full sun, and sometimes you have to walk a while to get to the perfect bushes. Be ready to be out in the sun for at least an hour.
Remember Sal and her mother. In the classic kids book, Blueberries For Sal, mom lets little Sal wander and she ends up having a bear cub encounter. Although you’re certainly safe from bears in all these fields, do keep a close eye on wandering tots. It’s easy for little people to get disoriented in blueberry bushes that are taller than they are!
Leave the pups at home. Most farms don’t allow dogs, and it’ll probably be too hot to keep them in the car.
Blue Dog Farm
Perfect for: Dawn till dusk access to bulk amounts of berries
Located in quaint farming town of Carnation, Wa, the folks at Blue Dog are serious about their organic blueberries; they’ve even switched over to a membership-driven concept to better support their sustainable and organic farming practices. This is a great option for folks who want frequent access to lots of berries all season long. As a member ($25 annual fee) you get to come any day you want, dawn till dusk, and pick to your heart’s content at the self-service farm. (You’ll still pay by the pound, but you get to pick anytime you like and in the quiet and calm of a tranquil farm almost all to yourself!) Sign up to become a member at the farm on your first day of picking or by email. A few days will also be open to the general public (check the website for details). Visitors are encouraged to bring a blanket and pack a picnic for lunch on the farm.
Cost: $2.70/lb (members also pay $25 annual fee). Checks only on membership days. Cash and checks on public days.
Hours: Members can pick daily, dawn till dusk. Public days/hours will be posted on their website.
Dates: July 11 – end of season
Blue Dog Farm
7125 West Snoqualmie Valley Road
Carnation, Wa 98014
Blue Dot Farm
Perfect for: A well-manicured park-like picking experience
Not to be confused with the previous and similarly-named blueberry farm, Blue Dot Farm is new to the Puget Sound blueberry scene (they are based south of Seattle in Enumclaw) and also managed organically. This pastoral farm is only in its second year as a u-pick farm, but is off to an exciting start with 16 varieties of blueberries to pick from, including some of the largest varietals and a few still under patent. Also unique to Blue Dot is that you buy your u-pick berries by the bucket size (large or small), not the pound. Pre-picked berries are also available, but call ahead to make sure your order is ready for you when you arrive.
Cost: U-pick: $25 large bucket (11-12 lbs) and $12.50 small bucket (5-6 lbs). Pre-Picked: $3.50/pint or $20/flat. Cash only.
Hours: Call ahead as picking dates/times depend on berry ripeness.
Dates: Mid-July – September, 2013
Blue Dot Farm
21010 SE 416th Street
Enumclaw, Wa 98022
Bow Hill Blueberries
Perfect for: Locavores looking for a day trip
Hailed as the oldest family-run blueberry farm in the Skagit Valley, Bow Hill Blueberries (located between Mt. Vernon and Bellingham) are certified naturally grown. Moreover, Bow Hill is officially a “transitional organic farm,” meaning they abide by all the strictest organic farming practices and will complete their transition to certified organic in 2014. Their great website offers excellent ideas for a day trip, including nearby shops they love (we want to check out the chachkies at the Lucky Dumpster and sample some cheese at Samish Bay Cheese) and cafes to try (with a name like the Breadfarm, it’s gotta be good). The kids will love WilGun Corn, a kid’s vegetable farm stand nearby. And if you’ve left the kids behind, why not check out the Golden Distillery for a little sampling of their local whiskey and brandy.
Cost: $2.50/lb (cash, check and cards accepted)
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Dates: Mid-July – Mid-October, 2013
Bow Hill Blueberries
15628 Bow Hill Road
Bow, Wa 98232
Broers Farms Inc
Perfect for: Families who want to mix and match their berries
Nestled into the fertile countryside in Monroe, Broers Farms is a berry-lovers dream come true; that goes double if you like your berries 100% organic. (They’ve been certified organic for 25 years!) At Broers, the whole family is welcome to pick in their fields of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, marionberries and of course, blueberries. FYI – Raspberries fields are about a mile from the farm, so groups are organized and escorted out. Be sure to wear long sleeves and pants if you’re venturing away from blueberry patches; the rest can have a few brambles. If Broers is busy or out of the berry you’re looking for, check out Bolles Organic Berry Farm right next door (17930 Tualco Loop Road).
Cost: $2.50/lb for blueberries; $2/lb for strawberries, raspberries & marionberries
Hours: Check their Facebook page for available picking dates/times (updated daily)
Dates: June – Mid-September, 2013
Broers Farms, Inc
18228 Tualco Road
Monroe, Wa 98272
Whitehorse Meadows Farm
Perfect For: A scenic day trip to the mountains (oh… and great blueberries)
Snuggled at the base of Whitehorse Mountain about 20 miles east of Arlington (about 1.5 hours from Seattle), this lovely scenic blueberry farm has three organic blueberry varietals for you to pick from. (They’ve also received the Salmon Safe certification for their stewardship practices.) Bonus: You can get their frozen berries and unique preserves (blueberry mango chutney, anyone?) at the farm, or visit them at the Ballard, Magnolia and Lake Forest Park farmers markets.
Cost: $3/lb u-pick; $4/lb pre-picked
Hours: Check their Facebook page for available picking dates/times. Always closed Sundays and Mondays.
Dates: July – Mid-September, 2013
Natural & Sustainable Farms
Bryant Blueberry Farm
Perfect For: Kids!
With goats, chickens, a playground, a picnic area and two great summer festivals (Red Rooster Days and the Bryant Blueberry Festival) Bryant Blueberry Farm gets the family-friendly Award for sure. Their juicy blueberries are grown with sustainable agricultural methods, as are their currents, tayberries, raspberries, and beautiful u-pick flowers. And, if your kiddos get totally pooped out with all the pony rides and duck-chasing, you can always cheat and buy a few flats of pre-picked natural berries to take home. You may even get talked into bringing a blueberry plant home so you can u-pick at home next year!
Hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, through mid-September. Farm is open even when fields are closed, so call ahead if you want to pick.
Dates: July 9 – Late August
Bryant Blueberry Farm and Nursery
5628 Grandview Road
Arlington, Wa 98223
Perfect for: Folks in search of a heritage experience
South of Seattle-ites will love this Auburn-based blueberry farm that has been famously selling their blueberries at Pike Place Market since the early 80′s. (They also raises prize-winning horses, hence the name). Although not organic, Canter-Berry proudly limits their chemical use and does not spray their berries. Some of their bushes are over 50 years old, and you’ll be able to pick from 8 different varieties of gorgeous jewel-toned fruit (including one that is even a little bit spicy!). Check their handy u-pick page after 6:30 pm daily to confirm their next picking day.
Cost: $2/lb (no pre-picked berries)
Hours: Daily from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Dates: July 25 – end of season
19102 Southeast Green Valley Road
Auburn, Wa 98092
Henna Blueberry Farm
Perfect for: Multi-taskers who want to see it all!
Located in Fall City in the Snoqulamie River Valley (about 30 minutes north of Seattle), Henna Blueberry Farm grows ten varieties of the fruit including Reka, Duke, and Bluecrop for you to pick from. Although not certified organic, Henna Blueberry farm doesn’t spray any synthetic pesticides or chemicals on their blueberry bushes. And, if you want some farm variety for your u-pick adventure as well, along the five-mile corridor of SR 203 that connects Fall City and Carnation, you’ll find Henna Blueberry Farm, and many other family-friendly farms, produce stands and u-pick spots, including the kid-tastic Remlinger Farms, and great CSA at Oxbow Farm.
Cost: $2/lb u-pick; $3/lb pre-picked
Hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Open some Sundays from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Call ahead to make sure berries are available.
Dates: July – August, 2013
Henna Blueberry Farm
1800 Fall City Carnation Road
Fall City, Wa 98024
425-806-2751 (weekdays) or 206-605-4601 (weekends)
Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm
Perfect for: Pickers short on time
This super conveniently located farm has been operated by the Bellevue Parks and Community Service Department since the 1940′s. Sitting on land with a historic log cabin and trails in the Lake Hills Greenbelt, the spraying of chemicals and pesticides is minimized on the farm’s blueberry plants. Grab your buckets (provided) at Lake Hills Farm Fresh Produce stand, and after you’re done picking, you can grab a week’s worth of fresh produce there as well.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Dates: Mid-June – October
Larsen Lake Blueberry Farm
14812 Southeast Eighth Street
Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm
Perfect for: First timers wanting easy picking, just around the corner
Sitting off a main thoroughfare in Bellevue, Bill Pace Fruit and Produce at Mercer Slough Blueberry Farm is a u-pick located near a family-owned fruit stand. In addition to blueberries grown using natural practices, a variety of fresh fruit shipped daily from the Pace’s orchard in Central Washington is for sale. This location couldn’t be easier for a first-timers introduction to u-pick blueberries.
Hours: Daily from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Dates: Mid-July – Early September, 2013
Note: Remember to always call ahead before you go picking since farm hours and schedules are constantly in flux.
Where does your family like to go for u-pick blueberries? Do you have any tips for making the trek with kiddos? Let us know in a comment below.
–Katie Gruver, words and some photos
Photo credits to: Mary Balmaceda, Nicole Dankworth, Broers Farm, Bow Hill Farm, Mountain View Blueberry Farm, Whitehorse Meadows Blueberry Farm, Blue Dot Farm