Mountain Mama: Feeding the strawberry addiction

If you eat too many strawberries, you are bound to turn red. The same goes for blueberries. This is the logic of my preschooler who was overheard telling her brother to slow down on the fresh fruit.

This is my 22-month-old son’s newest word. It sounds like a cross between raspberries and blueberry and refers to anything resembling a berry. Lately, it’s the first thing I hear in the morning and the last word he utters before falling asleep. The kid has a full-scale addiction.

He is in luck because the berry season has come early in British Columbia due to months of above-average temperatures, which means my son can fulfill his strawberry dreams. If you are looking for the full berry experience, now is a great time to head to Pemberton.

The Pemberton Valley has a unique microclimate and great soil conditions for growing a variety of food, including strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Over the next month or so, several of the community’s local farms will open their fields for the u-pick and pre-pick strawberry season. There’s nothing like a fresh-picked organic strawberry.

Be warned that the picking season generally lasts less than a month, so it’s best to hit the farms early and often.

During a recent visit to one of the farms, my son caught on to the greatness of u-pick. Upon arriving, his eyes grew wide as saucers. Strawberries in every direction ready for the tasting! The challenge was keeping him from sampling vast quantities of berries before we could pay for them. He’s got fast fingers.

To be honest, my son was eating EVERYTHING. He started out by eating strawberries. Then he decided to give some of the leaves and the straw covering the ground a little taste. His face and hands were covered in smeared dirt and strawberry juice. This was his version of Disneyland.

Here’s a solid idea for parents. Berry picking with toddlers is a lot like herding cats: completely and utterly impossible. Inevitably someone has to pee, it gets too hot or they run in opposite directions.

Getting enough berries for preserving requires some strategy. I pre-order a flat of berries, which allows me to pick with the kids stress free. I have no worries about getting enough because my flat of berries is waiting for me at the end of the line.

Two farms are offering u-pick and ready-pick strawberries this season, North Arm Farm and Camel’s Back Harvest.

North Arm Farm is the most well known u-pick farm in Pemberton. During the growing season you can pick your own strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Strawberry season usually starts around mid-June depending on the weather.  There is usually a sign outside the Scotiabank when the farm is open for u-pick.

North Arm Farm is located seven minutes down the road from Pemberton towards Mt. Currie. The farm can be found on the right side of the road.

Camel’s Back is another great spot for berries. Camel’s Back Harvest, as the strawberry farm is poetically called, is named for Camel’s Back Mountain right next to it with its camel-like humps. (Camels were also run up through Lillooet during the Klondike gold rush.)

The farm is located 25 km down the Pemberton Meadows Road just past the Hurley Bridge.

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