One for the basket, one for me. It’s a time honoured tradition, one that affords many delicious opportunities to explore Ontario’s rural places at your own pace.
We’ve gathered up some of our favorite pick-your-own spots into a nice little list for all you berry-loving jammers, bakers and preservers. Take an afternoon, visit a farm and pick your own this season!
In Season Now: Blueberries
Ontario has two basic types: lowbush and highbush. You can find lowbush blueberries in the wild parts of the province, but they’re also cultivated in small amounts. Highbush blueberries grow up 6-8 feet in height and make for easier picking. They’ve been cultivated since 1976 in this part of the world.
Look for fairly firm, sweet-smelling berries with no signs of mould or mildew .The blueberry must be a dark blue to almost black colour. The fruit should have a consistent blue colour with no purple or pink tones.
Fun fact: acid rain has stimulated the growth of natural stands of lowbush berries in some inland areas by reducing the pH level of the soil.
Berrylicious Fruit Farm, Oxford County
This 75 acre farm, just outside Woodstock, has been running pick-your-own adventures since 2002. Since then, they’ve planted seven varieties of blueberries (and a few acres of elderberries). They provide you with picking baskets, so leave those pails at home.
Blueberry Hill Estates, Norfolk County
Is it a farm? Is it a winery? It’s both! Pick-your-own blueberries, then sip some lovely blueberry wine in their tasting room. They also offer tours of the property, including the blueberry patch, growing vineyard, sugar bush, rescue ranch and ending back at the winery with a private tasting of our wines.
Hugli’s Blueberry Ranch, Pembrooke
The Hugli’s have been growing nutritious & delicious blueberries for over 30 years. There are 17 acres of blueberries with 17 different varieties that ripen at various times, so you’ve got plenty of opportunities to visit!
Arrowwood Farm, Middlesex County
This 100 acre farm consists of 50 acres of beautiful woods, highbush blueberries, scenic gardens and The Harvest Table, an event venue that plays host to farm dinners, ‘crafternoons’ and even a wood stove concert series.
Canaan Blueberries, Rockland
Canaan’s picking usually starts late July, early August, but it’s well worth the wait. They grow massive highbush blueberry bushes, which is a great option for those who don’t want to bend down for a treat. They also have lovely blueberry honey for sale.
Wilmot Orchards, Newcastle
This 22-acre farm, nestled in the Oak Ridges Moraine, has been growing blueberries since 1983. They offer 9 different varieties of highbush blueberries, which ripen throughout the month of August.
Where The Wild Things Are: Foraging In Northern Ontario
Blueberries are one of the easiest to forage berries in Ontario — and Northern Ontario has them in spades! July to August is typically blueberry season, but that can vary based on the weather. According to Northern Ontario Tourism, when hunting for your perfect spot, look in high, sunny areas. Check barren areas, rocks and cliffs, trails and hills, and if you find some crunchy, dried out moss, there’s likely blueberries nearby.
Picking wild, lowbush blueberries is hard work. According to the team at Northern Ontario Tourism, bringing some key gear along makes for better picking. Be sure to bring:
- Long pants
- Sunscreen (blueberries like high, sunny spots)
- Insect repellant (blueberry season is also mosquito season!)
- Bucket/basket for berries (bags can damage your haul)