Organic blueberries at the Lougheeds: picking time is here

What’s better than blueberry season? Picking huge organically-grown blueberries whose blossoms have been pollinated by our own bees!

On the weekend we visited with Harold and Doris Lougheed, who own a four-acre U-Pick blueberry farm at the corner of 19000 River Road and Nelson Road in Richmond. They were putting the finishing touches to their fields, mowing the grass verges where people will park, putting up multi-coloured streamers to ward off the predatory birds, and generally making sure the place will be up and running as of Friday, July 19.

A lovely dish of blueberries from Harold and Doris Lougheed's organic farm on River Road in Richmond.

A lovely dish of blueberries from Harold and Doris Lougheed’s organic farm on River Road in Richmond.

The Lougheeds’ mostly Bluecrop blueberry bushes are packed full of super-huge, super-sweet blueberries. I’d like to think we had something to do with that since their fields had been home to some of our hives at blossom time. Although we did commercial pollination for others, this field we did simply as a favour to the Lougheeds, who are friends of ours.

We were rewarded for our efforts with 60 pounds of the nicest-tasting blueberry honey we’ve ever had. How about that?

On Sunday we went away with a bucket of the first-picked, some of which are in the photo attached to this story.

What I like about the Lougheeds’ operation is that they run as organic an operation as they can. Harold, a retired engineer, and Doris, a retired UBC forestry scientist, don’t use any pesticides. They don’t spray for fungus and they laboriously mow between the rows and weed-whack around the bushes as an alternative to using a herbicide such as Roundup.

The results can be found in the taste of each blueberry: full, deep and juicy.

The Lougheeds are also those genuine folks who revel in the rural life they have, and want to share that experience. Harold, whose big moustache lends to a gruff countenance, looks like a younger version of Wilford Brimley, the actor also known for his Quaker Oats maxim “Because It’s The Right Thing.”

Harold tries to put on that air of sternness as well when blueberry-stained children straggle in from hours of picking and sampling with their parents. He asks them with a scowl when weighing the berries how many they ate. And then smiles and tells them that they are supposed to eat as many as they can because it’s all about “quality control.’

In the great scheme of things the Lougheeds are small-scale farmers: the B.C. Blueberry Council estimates the province’s 800 growers will produce upwards of 47 million kilograms.But if you want a nice experience and the chance to sample berries free of sprays and pesticides, head down to their place.

Doris says they aren’t raising their prices this year. It’s still $1.10 a pound, better than you’ll find anywhere. Bring your own buckets.

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