Blueberry and kale salad with Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette
Photo courtesy of Sarabeth McElhaney
Blueberry season in WNY is fleeting, with only a few weeks starting from early July to mid-August to score those luscious cobalt spheres of mellow tartness. Fortunately, there are many local places where you can turn a foray to find them into a DIY experience suitable for the young (and young at heart).
Greg’s U-Pick, located on Lapp Road off Transit in Clarence, is one such place. Since 1987, Greg and Sandy Spoth, now with their son Ryan and his family, have offered home grown produce, starting with strawberries and corn and expanding to include raspberries and blueberries during the summer months, plus a pumpkin patch come fall. In fact, Greg’s is celebrating twenty-five years of blueberries this year and boasts three varieties over eight acres, which are netted in order to keep bird damage to a minimum.
According to Ryan Spoth, there can be hundreds of guests visiting the farm per day during peak berry picking times. “Seeing more families than I can count, trying our berries, having fun, enjoying one another, and spending time outdoors are the best parts of our busy days,” he said.
An open air produce market, which opened in 2008, showcases fresh homegrown vegetables throughout the season such as sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, and more, in addition to baked goods made on site and honey cultivated from bees kept at the farm. And if living like Laura Ingalls isn’t up your alley, there are usually already picked blueberries available for purchase there, as well.
Local blogger Sarabeth McElhaney, who runs The February Fox, a lifestyles blog focusing on travel, food, fashion, and family life, said her husband likes to joke that her favorite food category is “fresh.” Their oldest son now claims it as his own, too. “We book frequent trips around WNY to pick fruits and veggies and create recipes utilizing our finds,” she says.
McElhaney put together her Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette and Salad, which includes both fresh and pureed blueberries, after a berry-picking adventure. It also contains several of her family’s favorite ingredients like shallots and lemon and is a perfect lunch or light dinner when temps soar. Beets, sunflower seeds, and bleu cheese add texture as well as substance and protein, negating the need to swelter at the stove.
Medical experts tout blueberries as a “superfood” because of their punch of antioxidants and phytoflavinoids; they’re also packed with potassium and vitamin C, are anti-inflammatory, and can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. At Greg’s U-Pick, the price per pound of blueberries decreases the more you pick, which works out since blueberries freeze beautifully, allowing for the fresh taste of summer’s bounty throughout the year. Just rinse with water, let dry completely and place into plastic freezer bags. Blueberries will keep up to ten months frozen, so it’s easy to scoop out a cup or two for muffins, smoothies, or vinaigrettes in the colder months.
Blueberry picking at Greg’s U-Pick
9270 Lapp Road, Clarence Center
The season starts in early- to mid-July and runs through mid-August, weather depending. The first three weeks are the best, so check the website or Facebook and Instagram pages for updates.
Blueberry Picking Hours (weather conditions permitting):
9 a.m.–7 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday,
9 a.m.–5 p.m.
1-5 pounds: $5/pound
5-10 pounds: $4.25/pound
Over 10 pounds: $3.50/pound
What to bring:
Your own bags, baskets, or whatever you feel comfortable using to hold your stash. Greg’s has buckets you can borrow if you forget, too. Sunscreen, hats, and water bottles are also a good idea.
Cash or checks:
Greg’s does not accept credit/debit cards (although there is an ATM on site).
What to leave at home:
With the exception of service animals, pets are not permitted on the premises.
Tara Erwin is a freelance writer and PR professional.