With the boys still in school, my daughter and I headed toward Terrell and Ham Orchards for some blackberry picking.
For those of you, like me, who grew up in the country, picking these delectable early summer berries may be synonymous with copious blood loss from thorns, sunstroke, and the ever-present danger of stepping in something cows left behind. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Ham Orchards are locally famous for peaches, but they also treat their blackberries with respect. Bushes are neatly trellised to maximize berry yield, minimize thorniness. Landscape fabric between the spacious rows keeps down the mud, even after rains like this week’s.
The pick-you-own field is only steps away from a covered fan-cooled pavilion where we fortified ourselves with sandwiches and soft drinks. And from a farmer’s market store with fresh produce (including peaches the boys ended up eating like candy), baked goods, preserves, and possibly the world’s best fudge. (Free samples!)
Although we picked a pound of berries, the helpful staff at the store told us we were a little early for the berry season, expected to be in full swing this Saturday, June 8. The store also has already-picked berries, if we’d wanted to fake our berrying prowess. But hurry -- the pick your own season only lasts through June.
Ham Orchards are open now through August 15, Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Sundays. They’re located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and County Road 309, about four miles east of Terrell, with a big sign outside. You really can’t miss it, but for more information see http://hamorchard.com/.
For more berries, keep driving east, take the Highway 64 exit, through Canton, and follow the signs to Blueberry Hill Farms near Edom for both black and blue berries. My New Englander son-in-law’s stories about picking wild blueberries rival my stories about blackberries. But blueberries really can grow in East Texas.
The berry season at Blueberry Hill Farms begins this Saturday also, and runs through July, depending on weather. The farms’ blueberries grow on deep sand, eliminating the nuisance of muddy feet. The upright bushes are thorn-free.
The boys were fascinated when we visited Blueberry Hill last summer. And when they tired of picking, we adjourned to the air-conditioned store for some already picked berries and a blueberry pie, just in time for supper.
Blueberry Hill is open daily June through July, including Father’s Day and the Fourth of July, 7 a.m. through 5 p.m. For directions and additional information, see