Michigan Bucket List: U-Pick Blueberry Farms
| 4 min read
One of Michigan’s sweetest homegrown treats is blueberries. The state is a national leader in growing these sweet, juicy, and high-quality berries. In an average year, Michigan blueberry farmers produce more than 90 million pounds of more than 30 varieties of highbush blueberries across more than 20,000 acres of farmland, according to the Michigan Ag Council. About half that harvest is sold fresh at farmers markets, grocery stores or through U-pick operations, while the rest is processed, frozen, or used in other products. Blueberry season usually runs from July through early September, and sometimes longer.
Outside of the nearly 600 blueberry farms, you can forage wild blueberries in areas such as the Hiawatha National Forest in the Upper Peninsula. These woody shrubs tend to grow in fire-prone areas, according to the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
The fact that these violet, jewel-like fruits are easy to pick for children as well as adults makes them especially popular at U-pick farms. Filling buckets or cardboard trays to the brim with berries you’ve picked yourself is a fun activity. And all that hard work makes the pies, shortcakes and jams you make later taste a little bit sweeter. It’s why finding a U-pick blueberry farm near you should be on your Michigan Bucket List this summer.
Big health benefits
In addition to being delicious, blueberries are considered a superfood because they are rich in antioxidants and pack a big nutritional punch. They are low in calories and high in nutrients such as vitamins C, K, manganese, and fiber. Research shows that they help protect against aging, cancer, and DNA damage, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A serving of 100 grams, or 3/4 of a cup, provides 65 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Find Fun at U-Pick Farms
Most of the state’s blueberry crop is grown in West Michigan, with Allegan, Berrien, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren counties the primary growing region, but farms can be found throughout the state. To really appreciate blueberry season, find a U-pick farm close to you. Bring some water, sunglasses, sunscreen and snacks. You might want to enlist some friends to join you. You will be able to see up close the quality of the fruit you’re picking, and U-pick rates are generally a lot less than what you pay in a grocery store or at a farm market.
Schantz’s Blueberries, 3541 S. Gleaner Road, Saginaw. This family-owned and operated 10-acre farm offers more than 10 varieties of blueberries.
Blueville Acres Blueberry Farm, 38093 Judd Road, Belleville. Blueville is a no-spray, natural practice farm near Ann Arbor.
Dexter Blueberry Farm, 11024 Beach Road, Dexter. Once a farm of wild blueberries, the land was cultivated in the 1960s and has been expanded several times since.
Hazen’s Blueberry Farms, 1144 Peavy Road, Howell. Hazen’s Farm has been family-owned and operated for over 50 years.
Kapnick Orchards, 4245 N. Rogers Highway, Britton. In addition to U-pick blueberries, this family-owned farm market has a small petting zoo.
Buchan’s Blueberry Hill, 1472 Nelson Road, Traverse City. Set on the Old Mission Peninsula, this might be one of the most scenic U-picks in the state.
Up North Blueberry Farm, 3964 Hallenius Road, Gaylord. The bushes and field are maintained by hand to be virtually weed-free to provide a comfortable picking environment.
Backwoods Blueberries, 16785 Ederer Road, Hemlock. This U-pick farm boasts a food truck, so after your harvest, you can treat yourself to a meal.
Blueberry Lane Farms, 13240 Blueberry Lane, Otter Lake. You can find 114 acres of U-pick blueberries along with picnic areas, play areas, and restrooms. It hosts a blueberry festival in mid-July.
Coyner’s Blueberries, 7101 Gillette Road, Flushing. While not certified organic, the farm uses integrated pest management to control pests and a variety of natural soil-building methods to avoid chemical fertilizers.
Russell’s Blueberries, 11895 Frost Road, Freeland. This veteran-owned 22-acre family farm has an unusual feature – its barn has more than 20,000 books to browse through.
Crossroads Blueberry Market, 14500 Lake Michigan Drive, West Olive. You can pick blueberries, then cool off with ice cream or another sweet treat from Crossroads Blueberry Market.
Reenders Blueberry Farm, 9981 West Olive Road (U.S. 31), West Olive. Family-owned and operated since 1956, Reenders grows a dozen varieties on 800 acres.
Kamphuis Blueberries, 4140 148th Ave, Holland. This fifth-generation farm is known for its plump Blueray and sweet Jersey blueberry varieties.
Adams Organic Blueberry Farm, 69676 County Road 376, Hartford. This 150-year-old farm grows USDA-certified organic and conventional blueberries.
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