Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pick Your Own Memories

The Blueberry Patch

Growing up in Northeast Ohio, each year brought the same cycle of lamenting a seemingly endless and dreary winter while patiently waiting to enjoy a precious few, short months of blissful summer. Summer happened to be my favorite time of year; not only was there a moratorium on reading, writing and arithmetic, but my mom made sure there was always something to do to keep our ever curious minds occupied. Right around summer solstice, she would take my siblings and I strawberry picking at a local farm and by the end of our trip, not only were our fingers dyed bright red, but we had eaten our weight in fresh ripe fruit! So when I heard there was a pick your own blueberry farm just north of Columbus, I decided to seek out this berry patch hoping it would foster some summertime memories.

While sipping on freshly brewed blueberry iced tea, the owners of The Blueberry Patch, Steve and Lisa Beilstein, explained to me the how and why of their journey into blueberry farming. The land on which The Blueberry Patch now resides was purchased 31 years ago by Steve, a registered architect, who in the middle of a recession decided to take a nod from his German immigrant father and diversify his business. The 80 acres of abandoned farm land became Steve’s new hobby and as his entrepreneurial mind conjured up possibilities, he decided to start by seeing if his answer was in the soil. After sending a sample to The Ohio State University for testing, he discovered that the earth on his newly acquired property was ideal for growing blueberries. Unfamiliar with the plant, he engrossed himself in research and learned that not only was the area devoid of a local blueberry source, but the fruit could be also machine harvested.

Soon after choosing his crop, Steve met his future wife, Lisa. Lisa explained that when she met Steve the blueberry bushes were not fully matured and the little fruit they were producing was being sold from a small shanty; nothing resembling the structure that stands today. Possessing a background in business, Lisa knew that it was essential to have their customers visiting The Blueberry Patch more often than during just the brief fruit picking season, so she aimed at turning their farm into a family destination that would become not only an annual tradition, but a place that could be enjoyed all year long. What started as a small greenhouse with the purpose of selling blueberry bushes turned into a retail space for unique gifts and six summers ago the business expanded again with the opening of their café. Believe me when I say that the growth will not cease here. Steve and Lisa shared with me a few of their “top secret” ideas that comprise the next evolution of their blueberry haven.

Before I treated myself to sampling the numerous blueberry confections in Blossoms Café, I decided to work up an appetite picking in the fields. Since the beginning, The Blueberry Patch has been a “U-Pick” facility. They started in 1981 with only one variety of berry and 1,500 plants and today they grow 17 delicious varieties and have nearly 27,000 plants covering around 30 acres. Their goal is to have a fresh blueberry available to be picked for 8-10 weeks starting around the end of June. To make this extended season possible, they grow varieties that ripen sequentially so you can keep coming back and picking throughout most of the summer. I might not have realized it at the time, but there was something about my mom bringing us berry picking in the summer that stuck with me. From a young age I have always known when it was strawberry season and after my visit to The Blueberry Patch I can add a new berry to my in-season knowledge base. As I headed out to the field with my husband and friends we eagerly walked up and down the rows collecting blueberries until our pails were overflowing. We began dreaming up the possibilities of our harvest while new memories were being made, but this time my fingers were stained a beautiful shade of purpley blue.


The Blueberry Patch blueberries (pictured left) traveled 62 miles to Columbus, while the blueberries (pictured right) traveled roughly 430 miles to Columbus.

Blueberries are a tiny super food packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and age fighting free radicals. They have been known to help aid in memory, prevent or delay ocular issues, regulate blood sugar and boost both your memory and immune system.

They are a versatile fruit that can be frozen to extend their shelf life. The Blueberry Patch suggests freezing your fruit in an air tight container prior to washing. Upon use, break the berries apart by gently shaking the container and wash before consuming.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberry Donuts with Blueberry Frosting

Check out Little Blue Dynamos for more blueberry recipes!

Click on the recipe cards to print your copy:


Kristian said...

Wow...the donuts (and blueberries) look absolutely wonderful!

Anonymous said...

These look insanely good! I just LOVE fresh fruit and you got it at its freshest! I'm intrigued, I want to visit someday!

Anonymous said...

Picking berries are a lot of fun! But to top it all, you show this mouth watering recipe! Can't wait to try it in the morning with some blueberry coffee! Your berry picking friend, Alan age 12

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