Seasonal Pantry: U-pick blueberries in Sebastopol are ideal for coleslaw, ketchup
On June 21, the second to last Friday of the month, Duckworth Family Farm in Sebastopol hosted its first U-Pick Blueberry day. The farm opened at 7 a.m., as it is best to pick blueberries before the heat of the day. They last longer and, overall, taste better.
The first customers arrived at 6:59 a.m. and by the time the farm closed at 2 p.m. about 160 people had come through. The next day was similar, with so many people that by the end of the day, all the ripe berries were gone. They couldn’t open on Sunday because they was nothing to pick. People picked more than 800 pounds of blueberries.
Blueberries are easy to pick. There are no thorns or stickers, the berries are not hidden among the leaves, and, when ripe, they practically jump into your hand. They are at the perfect height for toddlers but not so low that adults have trouble.
This first U-Pick weekend was announced only on Facebook and a local radio show. By any measure, it was an enormous success. People came from all over Sonoma County and from Marin County. Parents, grandparents and great grandparents arrived with toddlers in tow. It was hot, but with just enough shade and just enough breeze to keep things pleasant.
The farm, located at 2950 Canfield Road, is an ongoing work-in-progress and a charming step back in time. It is clearly a diverse working farm, not a manicured estate, not a gentlemanly indulgence. In addition to three varieties of blueberries, the Duckworths have chickens, horses, sheep, hay, ponds filled with crawfish from Blucher Creek, which flows through the property, tents that house volunteers from WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), a cookhouse, barns and buildings filled with looms. Plans are in the works for a sheep milk dairy. They even work with two ravens who have lived there since they purchased the farm more than 15 years ago. Every morning, Lorrie Duckworth puts out two eggs for the ravens, who, in turn, keep the neighbor hawks away from the chickens.
When blueberry season is over, Lorrie Duckworth teaches all about wool, from shearing and cleaning to carding, spinning and weaving. She hosts other classes in the cookhouse, and plans are always in the works for more activities. She is so full of energy, spirit and spunk that you might suspect she is twins, or even triplets. But there is just one of her, and her energy is an inspiration.
U-pick blueberries are $4.50 a pound. If you want to have them picked for you, the cost is $6 a pound. The farm is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, though it is a good idea to check, especially on Sundays, to be certain they are not sold out. You’ll find the farm on Facebook and it can be reached by phone at 707-829-7999. This week only, they will also open on Thursday for the July 4 holiday.
For a simple afternoon appetizer or a dessert on a hot night, try this tangy relish with feta cheese, mozzarella fresca, chévre or sheep milk ricotta.
Blueberry & Corn Relish with Feta Cheese
Makes 4 to 6 servings