~ by Corinne Muffly, Educator ~
A series of articles dedicated to helping parents find places and activities on Nantucket to enjoy with their children.
Nantucket used to be quite the hotspot for harvesting blueberries due to the naturally acidic sandy soil. As the island’s population grew this natural resource diminished. Don’t worry! There continues to be plenty of delicious berries scattered about the island. The best places to look are in the central moors from Polpis to Milestone, especially near Almanack Pond Road, and from Miacomet all the way to the ocean. There are also a few different types of blueberries here. The low-bush berries are in bunches low to the ground and require bending over or squatting down to harvest. The high-bush blueberries are obviously higher and almost look like small trees. The best time to forage for these miniature delectable treats is mid- to late July and the highbush blueberry season can extend to early August.
I have never actually gone blueberry picking until recently. This was not only an enjoyable excursion, but it was rewarding and fitting for all ages. You really don’t need much for this activity. We brought plastic bags to put our berries in, but you could bring any type of container for your collecting. Watch out for poison ivy while you are picking blueberries, and check for ticks during and after as well. You have to venture into the brush to pluck some of these treasures so be aware.
Before we began our harvest, we decided to collect the blueberries in order to make blueberry muffins. There are so many things you can make with the berries you collect from pies to waffles or even just to snack on. If you happen to gather a large amount of blueberries you can always freeze them for another day. If you do freeze the berries, pour them onto a cookie sheet, put that in the freezer, then bag the berries after they are frozen. You can measure as you bag, so you have just enough for a batch of muffins this winter. There are also many health benefits to eating these fresh blueberries full of antioxidants, so the more you forage the better you feel.
We began our harvest in the State Forest off of Lover’s Lane. Turns out, this is also where the Disc Golf course is located. There is a decent sized parking lot that abuts the Boy Scout campgrounds, complete with a bike rack. Upon arrival, you could take any of the surrounding paths, but we chose the path connecting to the disc golf course to check it out. The area and paths were pretty cleared out and along the perimeter there were low-bush blueberries everywhere! In low leafy patches we noticed small bunches of berries, some ripe, some still working hard on turning blue. The blueberries were small, but flavorful and the farther into July we get, I’m sure the size will increase.
After spending a short while focused on collecting, we had at least a cup of blueberries, which was just enough for our muffins. This was a great location to harvest the berries because there was plenty of shade to avoid the direct sunlight and a fair amount of sunny spots too. It was a perfectly peaceful morning for foraging here as well. Blueberry picking is the perfect activity for any kind of day and weather, especially if you need a beach break. This particular excursion is like the gift that keeps giving. First, the harvesting alone is eventful, then you get to make something with your collected treats, and finally you get the privilege of enjoying your bounty. I highly recommend this easy and gratifying excursion.