Families

When is the best time to take the kids berry picking, and how much can you save?

Why spring, summer is a delicious time in Whatcom County

Whatcom County's maritime weather is well-suited to growing many varieties of berries, and continues to be the top red raspberry-producing county in the United States. Strawberries and blueberries also grow locally and are available at u-pick farms.
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Whatcom County's maritime weather is well-suited to growing many varieties of berries, and continues to be the top red raspberry-producing county in the United States. Strawberries and blueberries also grow locally and are available at u-pick farms.

Pre-teen girls and boys are no longer used to pick berries as employees on most Whatcom County farms, but kids can still get the berry-picking experience and save some money.

Moreover, grade-schoolers have no need to wonder how it’s done or to be nervous. Mike Boxx, who operates Boxx Berry Farms along with brother Roger, will be glad to provide tips for the U-pick process.

“Sure, we’ll show the kids how to pick if needed,” says Mike, 58, whose father Bill bought the land the year Mike was born. Talk about raising your own help!

“When the kids come out (with their families), we’ll totally show them all about it.”

There wasn’t much doubt in Mike’s mind how he wanted to make a living. Now he’s deeply involved in helping to preserve the health of Whatcom County agriculture.

“I knew as a kid I liked farming,” he says. “I spent half my youth on the fender of a tractor.”

Although the 100-acre Boxx spread at 6211 Northwest Road also grows potatoes, corn and carrots, their strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are dear to the Boxx family.

“We have a retail farm, so we always need three to five people (often high school students) to handle retail,” he says. “U-pick is a big part of our business. In summer, we’re open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days, typically from the first of June to the end of August.”

Other high school students are hired to handle various chores.

Mike says there are three windows for the popular berries (the farm also sells a smaller number of thornless blackberries – the kind that so often make scrumptious pies).

“June, and sometimes late May, is about it for strawberries,” he says. “July is best for raspberries and August for blueberries. There is some overlap for blueberries. There‘s a harvest window of about 45 days for strawberries and about 25 days for the others.”

What’s the easiest berry for little hands to pick?

“It has to be strawberries,” Mike said of the larger, stronger fruit. “As for the hardest berries to pick, raspberries and blueberries are just so much softer.”

Mike’s farm photos, in fact, have lots of colorful little kids’ faces, because they can eat some of the berries as they pick.

“Two-year-olds can start picking,” he says of mature toddlers.

“There’s quite a savings to be had for U-pickers,” he says. “I’d say the savings are about 40 percent.”

Mike encourages customers and little U-pickers to call the farm at 360-380-2699 or check the Facebook page to learn if it’s a good day to come out to buy or pick berries.

Recipe For Raspberry And Blueberry Cobbler

From Allrecipes Magazine from rbabyrole

Topping: 1 cup all-purpose flour; ½ cup white sugar; 1 teaspoon baking powder; ¼ teaspoon salt; 6 tablespoons butter; ¼ cup boiling water.

Filling: 2 tablespoons corn starch; ¼ cup cold water; 2 cups fresh blueberries; 1½ cups fresh raspberries; ¾ cup white sugar; 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add all ingredients to list.

Directions: prep, 20 minutes; cook, 30 minutes; ready, 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees; line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Mix flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl; mash butter into the flour mixture until crumbly; stir boiling water into the mixture to form a dough.

Dissolve corn starch in cold water in a separate large bowl. Stir blueberries, raspberries, ¾ cup of sugar; add lemon juice with the corn starch mixture; transfer to a cast-iron skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Drop dough into the skillet by the spoonful; put skillet over the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until the topping is golden brown; takes about 25 minutes.

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