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Give blueberries a try

By Staff
PERFECT BLUEBERRY Joe Johnson shows a cluster of perfect ripe blueberries ready to be picked. Blueberry season continues through early August.Photo by Penny Randall/The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
June 18, 2003
Melba Mayo and Molly Gary drove all the way from York, Ala., on Monday to pick blueberries in Suqualena.
The two friends, who wore hats to shade themselves from the sun, hit the road shortly after 6 a.m. just in time to be the first customers when Johnson Blueberry Farm opened at 7 a.m.
Gary said she uses the blueberries to create a homemade topping for oatmeal pancakes and to make her blueberry cheesecake.
Welcoming the two ladies was Joe Johnson who has owned the farm with his wife, Robin, since 1983. The 3-acre farm had its first harvest in 1985 and has been producing blueberries ever since.
On the other side of the county is B &W Orchards owned by Barbara Robinson.
That blueberry farm is on County Road 350 on the edge of Clarke County just past Clarkdale High School. They also are open for the summer picking season.
At both farms, customers can pick blueberries themselves or buy berries farm workers already have picked. Both Robinson and Joe Johnson said customers can call ahead and place orders in advance.
Robinson and Johnson also agree on the basics of blueberry picking. Once picked, blueberries should be placed in a cool room; they can be refrigerated for up to two weeks or placed in the freezer for two years.
But most important, they said, don't wash the berries until they are ready to be eaten.
In addition to being a tasty summer treat, blueberries are healthy. In fact, Robin Johnson said, "people don't realize how healthy blueberries are."
Eating Well magazine named blueberries the 1998 Fruit of the Year.
The anthocyanin content in blueberries, the blue pigment that gives berries its color, has been associated with cancer prevention and slowing the aging process.
According to research at Rutgers University, blueberries contain compounds that prevent urinary tract infections, just as cranberries do.
As healthy as blueberries are, they also are fun to eat. Plus, visiting a blueberry farm can be an educational experience for children.
PICKING BLUEBERRIES
B &W Orchards
Where: County Road 350, turn at Clarkdale School
Cost: U-pick $5 a gallon, we-pick $7.50 a gallon
Open: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.,
Monday-Saturday
Owner: Barbara Robinson
Phone: 659-3046
Johnson Blueberry Farm
Where: 11624 Suqualena Road
Cost: U-pick $4.50 a gallon,
we-pick $8.50 a gallon
Open: 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m.,
Monday-Saturday
Owner: Robin and Joe Johnson
Phone: 626-8166

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