I’ve been wanting to get out to the U-Pick for a year or so and just missed it last year due to other things coming up. I really wanted to go and pick (and eat) sunshine warmed blackberries but they aren’t quite in season. As a little kid in the Seattle area we picked giant juicy strawberries that are an imprint on my memory. I phoned Chapman’s on Friday and they verified that blueberries are just at the end of the season but there were still lots to be had for the small price of picking them myself and a few dollars a pound. I headed out before the heat of the day kicked in on Saturday morning armed with little more than sunscreen and some cash to pay for my pickings. Chapman’s is straight down Narcoossee Road in St Cloud Florida.
As you walk in past sheds and potted plants for sale you get little direction other than to grab a bucket and go for it. Only a handful of other pickers were in the fields and I chose to go left since everyone else seemed to be right. I walked to the back corner and put my back to the sun and picked my way down a couple of rows. The berries are so ripe, so blue, and simply tumble off the bush into the bucket. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to just keep going. I listened to the birds and the breeze whispering past The solitude was fantastic. I found myself thinking it would be a shame to let any go to waste and just kept going. Then I almost started to feel greedy–something like–should I tell anyone about this? What if there are no berries left for me? What if the word gets out? I came to my senses and I got over it. I’d rather share the blueberry love. After an hour or two I took but brimming bucket up to the shed and they quickly checked me out ($24) and dumped my berries into an embarrassingly big bag. When I got home I put the bag on my kitchen scale and found I had over seven pounds! At about $3 per pound you just cant beat it They are grown without chemicals and you are encouraged to eat a few as you go–they promise not to weigh you in or out. I got home and made a small batch of Blueberry jam – about 4 hours from picked to jarred. That’s what I call farm to table. I also made a batch of blueberry Aigre-doux, a red wine, vinegar and sugar concoction that is supposed to be good with cheese and in cocktails so I’m looking forward to trying that out. So much pleasure and relaxing holiday in that sun warmed picking.
Chapmans | 75 Nolte Rd St Cloud, FL | Call Nancy in season to find out what is available and when they are open. 321.624.9482