Fam­ily fun pick­ing fresh blue­ber­ries

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By ES­THER LAUAKI

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.

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