<b>FAMILY TIME | </b>By Theresa Goffredo Herald writer
Blueberry pickers, ready your buckets because the bushes are bursting.
Several U-pick blueberry farm owners across Snohomish County expect a boom crop this year.
Eager blueberry pickers can get started on the bounty right away with a few U-pick farms that opened to the public this past weekend.
But even if you don’t get an early start, it sounds like there will be plenty of blueberries to go around.
“We do have tons of blueberries starting to ripen now,” said Bob Fink.
Fink and his wife, Patty Watson, run Penryn Farm U-Pick Blueberries in Lake Stevens, a small, honor-system farm on a private estate on Stitch Lake.
The farm offers several varieties of blueberry bushes, some more than 40 years old.
Penryn Farm will open to the public July 23. Fink said he anticipates having berries most likely through Sept. 10.
“In fact, the berries on the bushes now are the biggest and most plentiful than we have ever seen,” Fink said.
Fink said he generally gets a steady of stream of U-pick customers when the berries are on. He said people come for the low price – $2 a pound – and the varieties.
“On the surface I’d say this is going to be a bumper crop this year, and we’re now just hoping for some sunny warm weather,” Fink said.
Keith Stocker of Mountainview Blueberry Farm in Snohomish called this year’s blueberry crop “a heavy fruit load.”
“Back in May when bushes were in bloom, we got a good pollination and we were getting the good weather we needed when the bees were working and that was key,” Stocker said.
Keith and Janet Stocker, fourth generation farmers in the Snohomish River Valley, bought Mountainview in 2007. They run the farm along with their sons Ivan and Raleigh.
Keith Stocker guessed he would open the U-pick operation July 21 and that the blueberry season would extend this year possibly through Sept. 20.
“We will stay open as long as there is fruit to sell and customers to pick,” Stocker said. “We are a U-pick only farm and the only way the fruit leaves our field is by having customers pick it.”
Some Snohomish County U-pick blueberry farms boast that their crops are 100 percent organic and some offer kid-friendly entertainment.
One such farm, Donnelly’s Riverbank Blueberries in Monroe, offers both.
In addition to being 100 percent certified organic, Donnelly’s has a pirate ship on their farm with pretend swords along with a “troll tree,” Pat Donnelly said.
“We hand out bubble gum because if the kids are chewing bubble gum, they are not going to eat blueberries and that works,” Donnelly said.
He said that some of his 750 blueberry bushes are so heavy with berries that the fruit is touching the ground.
Donnelly’s opened for U-pickers July 14.
Here’s a list of several U-pick blueberry farms in the county. Their schedules are open to change depending on the weather, so it’s always best to call or check the farms’ websites or Facebook pages before heading out:
BLUEBERRY BLOSSOM FARM: 8628 Fobes Road, Snohomish; 360-568-4713; www.blueberryblossomfarm.com; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 7 p.m. Sundays from July 22; large sweet hybrid varieties including dukes, Spartans, Sierras and Bluecrop. Pesticide free.
BOLLES ORGANIC FARM: 17930 Tualco Loop Road, Monroe; 360-805-1980; email at firstname.lastname@example.org; open daily during season from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; features raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and is a state certified organic farm founded in 1997 by Dr. Leo Bolles, a holistic doctor. Cash, checks, and credit and/or debit cards.
BROERS FARMS: 18228 Tualco Road, Monroe; 360-794-8125 or email at email@example.com; open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August; a 60-acre, fourth generation family-owned and operated certified organic berry farm. Cash, checks, and credit and/or debit cards.
BRYANT BLUEBERRY FARM AND NURSERY: 5719 Grandview Road, No. A, Arlington; 360-474-8424; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 14 into late August; blueberries and raspberries are U-pick with ready-picked blueberries for sale; there’s a playground, sandbox, swing set and tether ball, and children can feed ducks and goats. Cash, credit or check.
DONNELLY’S RIVERBANK BLUEBERRIES: 11827 Reiner Road, Monroe; 360-793-2114; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from July 14 through August. All U-pick blueberries and Asian pears, and this year sweet corn, beans, summer and winter squash, and watermelons; certified 100 percent organic.
MOUNTAINVIEW BLUEBERRY FARM: 7617 E. Lowell-Larimer Road, Snohomish; 360-668-3391; www.MountainviewBlueberryFarm.com; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays from July 21 through Sept. 20; several varieties of U-pick blueberries as well as blueberry preserves and syrups. This is a U-pick farm only; cash only.
PENRYN FARM U-PICK BLUEBERRIES: 10923 South Lake Stevens Road, Lake Stevens; 425-257-0453; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily from July 23 through Sept. 10; a 3-acre honor-system farm, so grab a bucket at the office and go pick berries. When you are done, return to the office, weigh your berries, and leave $2 per pound in the cash box. Cash or check only.
WHITEHORSE MEADOWS FARM: 38302 Highway 530 NE, Arlington; 360-436-1951; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays from July 20 to early October; certified organic blueberry farm with Spartans, Rubels and Jerseys, and a new blueberry product-in-the-jar that can be used for a chunky syrup, a dessert sauce or a pie filling.