Blueberry picking is a fun event for the family! We headed out with our two kiddos and had a great time. We picked some beautiful berries - plump, sweet, and fresh! We picked about 3 pounds of berries and had a fun time. We thought we'd share tips and tricks of blueberry picking with toddlers. Blueberry picking season in Florida is April, May, and June. Be sure to check here for the blueberry farms close to Jacksonville to plan your trips! Be sure to call ahead to check that the farms are open for the season and open the specific day you are interested in picking. Some farms could close if there has been too much rain...or not enough.
Tips and Tricks to Blueberry Picking With Toddlers
1. Go early in the morning! This is helpful in many ways. For one, it will be cooler and your toddler will be less likely to melt down due to hot environmental conditions. And two, there will still be plenty of berries left to pick and/or you won't have to walk too far to find bushes with berries.
2. Bring the proper protective gear. Unless the bushes are old and haven't been pruned this year, typical blueberry bushes are low, so there is little to no cover in the field. Therefore, bring a hat, sunscreen, and we even brought an umbrella for shade for the toddler. Also, bring closed toed shoes with socks as the fields could be muddy from watering or recent rains.
3. How to Pick Berries. Grab your bucket with the sash and tie it around your waist, or ask the blueberry farmers/ladies to help. Then, have them direct you as to where to start. They will know which bushes have been picked over. Walk down to the row that will have berries available and walk down to the opposite end. Find a bush that has lots of berries. Eat a few to test them, of course!!! Then pick the large ones that are deep blue, plump, and juicy. The light purple ones are not ripe yet. Parents, pick the berries at the top and let the kids pick the berries at the bottom. Eat some more and then move to the next tree and repeat. Before you know it, your bucket will start getting full. When you think everyone is ready to take a break, bring your bucket back to the entrance and they will weigh them for you. Be sure to bring cash as many farms will not have debit/credit scanners.
4. Bring snacks and a picnic lunch! As with any activity with toddlers, be prepared with water and snacks. You don't want to get caught outside in warm conditions, far from stores as many of the farms are, without snacks! It is amazing how you can recover from a meltdown caused by low blood sugar with a few goldfish and sips of ice water! Sure, you can grab some blueberries, but solid snacks will go much farther. Also, the closest place to pick is about 30 minutes north or west of Jax. Bring a picnic lunch so you can kill some time before you load up in the car again for the drive home.
5. Go with the flow. You might want to pick buckets and buckets of lush, indigo blue blueberries, but your toddler might be done after a few handfuls. It takes a lot of picking to fill those buckets. Just go with the flow. Take a break, change a diaper, have a snack, or look at other farm sights like the forest, bee boxes, and farm animals. A few tasty bites is all you need to qualify you as a true blue picker. And don't worry, there's always the grocery store to get more blueberries!
6. Last but not least: Be sure to snap photos first thing! You don't want to leave after an early meltdown without photos!!! We'd love to see your adventures! Tag us with #fun4firstcoastkids and @Fun4FirstCoastKids on social media for your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and/or Twitter photos.
From blueberry sorbet, to blueberry frozen yogurt, to the traditional blueberry muffins, we love the SimplyRecipies.com website for tons of blueberry recipes!
Check out our page on www.fun4firstcoastkids.com dedicated to Blueberry U-PickFarms to plan fun family memories this blueberry season by clicking HERE!