Race to the Berry Bush
Blueberries are ready and ripe for the picking across West Virginia.
Photographed by Amanda Reed
While most of summer is a lazy haze of river rafting and campfire songs, there’s a short three- or four-week period that gets everyone aflutter—humans, birds, bees, and four-legged critters alike. It’s berry season. In the muggy days of July and August it’s time to book your appointments around West Virginia’s berry farms, throw on some tattered work clothes, and get picking.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all sitting fat on their bushes and vines ready to burst in your mouth. It’s a sweet reward after a day of hard work, and hard work it is.
Sweat rolls down your back. Your fingers are stained a ripe cherry red. Bees buzz happily around the fallen berries near your feet. That man wearing a straw hat and blue shorts and carrying a white bucket is steadily making headway into your picking territory with 10 buckets full of berries sitting in his wake. By the time you pay your bill and get back into your air-conditioned car, you’re exhausted. The kids silently gulp from their water bottles in the backseat. Everyone is thinking of the berry pancakes, the berry muffins, the crushed berry drinks, the cakes, the ice creams, and the sweet glazes soon to grace the dinner table. It’s old-fashioned exercise with a side of well-deserved gustatory luxury.
In Greenbrier County, the picking has already started. “We’re picking now and should continue through July and a little into August depending on the weather,” says Max Robinson, co-owner of White Oak Farm in Renick. Blueberries are $1.95 per pound, with picking times listed on the farm website here. McConnell’s Farm near Morgantown will start picking blueberries around the second week of July and run for three or four weeks, according to co-owner Debby McConnell. Prices this year are $2.20 per pound, and appointments are required.
The National Wildlife Federation has proposed a movement to get 10 million kids outside running, playing, swimming, and generally having fun, and we couldn’t agree more. Take up our challenge to spend your summer outdoors at any of West Virginia’s pick your own farms. Check out this list of pick-your-own farms complied by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to help you find a farm near you. Then whip up something delicious with our berry recipes.