Berry Picking

Close up of blue and raspberriesWhether the berries you pick go right into your mouth, or you're the sort that picks quarts and quarts of berries to freeze or dry, berry picking can be a fun, and somewhat addictive, hobby.  All it really takes is a bucket and a sharp eye.  

This is a an excellent place to find berries.  The favorites are probably blueberries and raspberries, but don't neglect thimbleberries, dewberries, juneberries, cranberries, and of course strawberries.  Many of these species thrive in open post-fire and post-harvest environments, but before your search, check with a field guide to see where to best seek your berries.  You can ask local people as well, but you'll find that good berry picking spots are as closely guarded as good fishing holes.  

Do exercise some simple precautions however.  

  • Make sure you know what you are picking.  People have been known to make 'blueberry' pie from blue fruits that aren't blueberries.  There are many fruit bearing plants out there, and some of the fruits are not good to eat.  
  • Don't pick on the sides of roads.  Many of these berry species like roadsides, but roads are often sprayed with herbicides to control invasive species, and also accumulate toxins from vehicles or salt from winter road melting.  
  • Stay aware of wildlife.  If you ever have read 'Blueberries for Sal' as a child or to a child, you know that bears like berries.  Usually bears are very aware of their environment, so it is less likely that you'll surprise a bear than that a bear will surprise you.  Either way, you don't want to get into a discussion with a bear over whose berry patch it is, so keep your eyes open and avoid confrontations.  If you're lucky, you may get a chance to see all the other wildlife that enjoys berries such as foxes, birds of many types, mice, and almost anything that can get to the berries. 
  • Don't be greedy.  Plants need the seeds to multiply, bears and other animals need the berries to live.  People don't need berries to survive, so don't strip an area of all berries.  Leave some for the plants and animals.

Download a berry picking guide to learn more.