(LaPorte County, IN) - Zach Pflederer doesn’t usually spend the day picking blueberries with his family but feeling a bit cooped up he did this year.
He’s just one of the many people flocking to u-pick blueberry farms as a safer alternative for spending quality time away from home with COVID-19 still a public health threat.
The Champaign, Illinois man was at Stateline Blueberries outside New Buffalo last week with his wife, Elise, and their children, Ellowyn, 8, and Dominic.
His mother-in-law, Chris Holmes from Westchester, Illinois, also came along for the ride to fill up a bucket.
The number of ripened blueberries in the bushes was picked a little thin from a very busy weekend turnout at the 30-acre farm on 1000 North two miles west of Indiana 39.
However, there are plenty of blueberries turning ripe in the coming days and weeks of the season, which is expected to run into early August.
Pflederer was pleased with the quality of blueberries he encountered.
“They look good. There’s a lot of berries on this bush,” Pflederer said.
Dean Ott, owner of the farm for the past 22-years, said people especially from Illinois have been showing up more than ever before, perhaps, since the picking season began at the end of June.
“It’s been a really good year, so far, because people are just dying to get out of the house and find something to do outside,” he said.
Ott said customers are given freshly sanitized buckets to take out into the fields.
There are also bottles of hand sanitizer for them to use before they head out and after they return.
Ott said the number of blueberries produced by his bushes this year is above average.
Originally, he said the maturity of the blueberries were about two weeks behind schedule because of a cool spring,
They were only about a week behind schedule following a recent spurt of hot and humid weather.