The moment we turned off the highway and onto the driveway, shaded from the hedges and tall trees on either side that curved above us, I knew we were in for an experience at Dr. Young's Pond Berry Farm in Angier.
The drive took us up to an old barn where a line of people, under more trees, waited to pay for their buckets, loaded with blackberries and blueberries. It was just after 9 a.m., Saturday. The berry farm had been open for more than two hours already. I turned to my mom and wondered if we were too late.
Thankfully, we weren't. And thank you to the Go Ask Mom readers who let me know about this wonderful place! So far in this Summer Treats series, we've focused on sugar-laden goodies. But today, we're talking about something a lot healthier - summer berries.
There are other places to pick berries around here. Read my earlier post to learn about more and to check our database for blueberry farms in the region. This season, I checked out Dr. Young's.
According to the farm's website, they've been selling pick-your-own berries here since the late 1980s. Dr. Young is the man who once owned the property and pond. But the Trustmans now own it and run the family operation, the website says.
The farm is generally open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, during the season. Blackberries and blueberries were ready for picking when we were there on Saturday. They have raspberries too, but you'll need to get there early if you're looking for those. Folks were lined up at 7 a.m. to pick the crop that morning, I was told.
We spent about 90 minutes filling three buckets full of berries - two with blueberries and one with blackberries. We each took a bucket, learned the correct way to pick a blackberry (if it twists right off, it's ripe) and got to work.
My eight-year-old was all about the search, filling her bucket as she walked farther down the patch looking for the bushes with the most fruit and letting us know what she found. At one point, she exclaimed, "This is so much fun!"
When we got there, I had announced that we weren't really there to get enough berries to can for the winter (that's a reference to one of my family's favorite children's books "Blueberries for Sal," by Robert McCloskey), but more for the experience. But as I saw just how many berries were on the bushes, I couldn't stop picking. My mom had a hard time stopping too. But my three-year-old, after about an hour, was ready to go home and eat some.
So we gathered up our buckets to leave. There was no line when we got back to the barn to pay for our crop (priced at $3 a pound for both the blueberries and blackberries when we were there).
I've frozen some berries for smoothies, muffins and pancakes. And I had grand baking plans when I left the rest in the refrigerator. We had a few blueberry pancakes and a small batch of muffins. But the rest ... we all ate by the hand full.
Dr. Young's Pond Berry Farm is at 10865 N.C. 210 N in Angier. Check their website for updated schedules, which vary depending on the weather and crop.
This is the latest in our occasional Summer Treats series. Click here for past Summer Treats posts.