Pick a winner with a cranberry u-pick

by franceswillick

(Click on any of the above photos to view a larger version.)

Move over, apples, pumpkins and pears. A new seasonal u-pick has caught my fancy this year.

And it’s just in time to steal the show at my Thanksgiving dinner, as I gesture toward the cranberry sauce and whisper to my guests, “I harvested those myself.”

Terra Beata Cranberry Farm, located on Heckmans Island near Lunenburg, offers a cranberry u-pick that’s the perfect place to while away an hour or two on a beautiful fall day.

The farm features a series of bogs which, until they’re flooded later in the season for the commercial harvest, look like a regular field surrounded by a ditch.

Once you cross the ditch, you’re immediately in the thick of it. It takes a moment to stop feeling guilty about stepping on the bushes, since there are no paths, but there isn’t really an alternative. The bushes and berries are everywhere. Under the twiggy plants, the moss can be a bit damp, so rubber boots are advisable.

You don’t have to venture more than a couple of steps into the bog before you can start filling your pail.

From above, the berries look dark, almost purple, but they’re crimson on the underside. Although they’re perhaps slightly less tempting to sample than blueberries or strawberries, I pop one into my mouth and enjoy the pleasantly tart flavour.

Aside from the sound of cranberries plunking into your pail, only the crickets – and maybe the sound of a startled deer bounding through the nearby brush – break the silence in this serene place.

In no time at all (OK, about 45 minutes of leisurely picking), my travelling companion and I have each filled our pail and head for the weigh-in.

Eleven-odd dollars later, we have enough cranberries to make countless cakes, smoothies and jams – and sauce for Thanksgiving dinner.

Although the surrounding area of Blue Rocks is worth a day trip itself, be sure to slow down and enjoy the scenery on the way to Heckmans Island.

If You Go:

Located at 161 Monk Point Rd. on Heckmans Island near Lunenburg

Open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting

U-pick berries cost $1.50 per pound

This story originally appeared in The Chronicle Herald on Oct. 10, 2014.