Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blueberries Galore

"Ooohhh, here we go into the enchanted garden!" I beckon. "Ooohhh," my kids respond, ducking under branches into a copious canopy of lush fruit. "Look up...and over there...and right here...blueberries are everywhere!" I exclaim with joy. The excitement is infectious and within minutes, my children (ages 6, 3, and 1) are all busy gathering a bounty of blueberries.

We've come to Maxine and Bob Falls Blueberry Farm in Maryville today to stock up on this antioxidant superfood. Since this is one of the dirty dozen (foods you should try to buy organic), my goal is to get as many as I can today. Though this farm is not "certified organic," they are "green" in my book because they do not use chemicals or pesticides and are locally grown. I'd take the freshly picked element over certified organic trucked from across the country any day.

When we first arrive, we are greeted by Bob and Maxine on the patio. To me, it looks more like an extended garden in their yard than a farm. Open to the public for 18 years, the Falls attribute the success of these 30-year-old bushes to using filtered water. "You can't grow blueberries with city water," Bob declares. Duly noted.

Each of us are outfitted with their brilliantly simple blueberry gathering system: milk jugs with the tops cut off attached around the waist with belts strung through the handles. I'm going to make some of these for our own garden. The boys beam with pride in expectation for a grand expedition.

"Where should we go?" I ask. "Oh anywhere," Bob responds. "Just choose a bush and start pickin'. You'll probably be more comfortable under a bush looking up than in the sunshine. It looks like an arbor in there." Thinking of our own blueberry bushes my husband planted last spring that are maybe two feet tall, I have a hard time imagining an arbor of blueberry bushes. Sure enough, many of them are probably seven feet tall and I have to get on my tip toes to reach the upper branches. Already 10:00am and stinkin' hot, I had feared the kids wouldn't last long. However, under the branches, it must be ten degrees cooler. Ahhh.

After a few pictures and video clips, we all get quickly to work. Though I've loved picking strawberries with the kids, a few bonuses spring to mind about blueberries.
A. We aren't out in the blazing sun.
B. We don't have to walk far.
C. All three kids can wander and still be within sight.
D. There is no mud or standing water.
E. I don't have to crawl in the mud.
F. Their attention span is much greater and allows us to stay for nearly two hours.

At the end of our quest, we've gathered six pounds of blueberries, about the equivalent of 1 1/3 gallons. Here's the best part: the cost. Since they only charge $1.25/pound, my total is $7.50 for blueberries that should last us at least a few months. I'm debating about going back for another round before they're out of season (Maxine expects another 3-4 weeks for harvesting), but I'll need to evaluate my freezer space.

So what does one do with 6 pounds of blueberries? Maxine hands us a sheet with recipes for using blueberries in syrup, bundt cakes, jam, pancakes, pies, lemonades, smoothies, even chicken salad. I think we'll eat as many as we can fresh, I might make Gabe's cobbler recipe, I'll trade a bag of berries for homegrown cantaloupe with my friend Libby, and I'll freeze the rest. Maxine recommends NOT to wash the berries before freezing--only just before eating them. I'm going to lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and pop them into the freezer; then I'll throw them into quart size freezer bags.

Nearly noon, I ask the boys if they had fun. "Yeah, can we do this again?" Bobby asks. "I'm a good helper." Smile. Honestly, there are days every SAHM questions if she's the best person for this important and sometimes daunting task of raising children 24/7. Our little field trip today not only proved that it can be fun to "go green and save green" but that I'm on the right track of mommyhood.

Thanks to Squeezing a Dollar out of Dime for the tip on this place. Here are the basics of the farm:

Maxine and Bob Falls Blueberry Farm
111 Harmon Rd. Maryville, Tn 37804
(865) 982-3457
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday 6:30am-8:30pm.
1.25/lb when you pick them yourself and 2.50/lb if you just stop in to purchase them. They also have a few baked goods.
They're located about 10 minutes beyond McGhee Tyson Airport.

Please enjoy my little video below.


  1. Great story! Makes me want to go tomorrow!

  2. love it! We might check it out this week!