Family fun picking fresh blueberries
Pauatahanui blueberry farmer Shelley Struthers has opened up her property for local families to enjoy a ‘‘ home-grown experience’’ picking fruit off the bush and picnicking outdoors.
Ms Struthers and husband David, owners of Berry Healthy, are keen to bring back the tradition of getting outdoors and hand-picking fruit as a way to spend time with family.
‘‘I did really want to grow something that is really good for you so people can have that home-grown experience of doing something that’s really great. When you eat blueberries you feel really good about what you’re eating,’’ she says.
The couple have had to create a new picnic area because of the growing number of people wanting to soak up the idyllic country surroundings.
After completing a diploma in horticulture at Massey University and studying the benefits of the antioxidant-rich berries, she decided to grow her own.
‘‘We’ve been here 10 years and been growing blueberries for the last seven years. On a nice day, to be able to welcome people into my property and share this paradise with them, that is really what it’s all about. People bring their children along and I can show them how to pick, and look underneath branches to find the big fruit, and it’s a learning experience for them. They love it.’’
She says last season was washed out by poor weather but a healthy dose of sunshine over November has made for a good yield this summer.
‘‘People are quite blown away. They say, ‘These don’t look like the ones in the shop’. It’s because when you buy blueberries from the store they have often been kept in storage so they’re not as fresh as if you picked them from here.’’
In the off-season Ms Struthers works parttime for the New Zealand Educational Institute teacher’s union but come August she is pruning and preparing for another crop.
There are six weeks left in the season and Ms Struthers says the best time to pick berries is after a few sunny days.
Berry Healthy farm at 247B Paikakariki Hill Rd is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9.30am to 1.30pm.
Got the blues? Shelley Struthers has got buckets full on them on her blueberry farm in Pauatahanui. But the season only lasts for another six weeks so pickers will have to be quick.