By Kathy Mak

Nothing says summertime more than fresh berries, and blueberries are literally the star berry of the season! There’s no better place to enjoy fresh blueberries than in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

It may be surprising to some, but blueberries are Canada’s largest fruit crop by acreage. According to the British Columbia Blueberry Council, Canada is the world’s third largest national producer of highbush blueberries with the majority grown by 800 blueberry growers in British Columbia. The bulk of the B.C. blueberry farms can be found right here in the fertile Fraser Valley!

There are 100 named varieties of the Northern Highbush Blueberry.
There are 100 named varieties of the Northern Highbush Blueberry.

Indigenous to North America, wild blueberries were highly regarded by the Aboriginal people who picked them for food and medicine. They were referred to as “star berries” because of the five-pointed star on the blossom side of the berry. Cultivated blueberries, known as the highbush variety, started in the early 1900s. Today, 90% of the world’s blueberries come from North America; but blueberries are also grown in Europe, South America, New Zealand and Australia.

The local blueberry season is in full swing and it’s looking like another bumper crop season. Typically, the blueberry season runs from late June to late August/early September with different varieties (early, mid and late season berries) ripening throughout the summer. However, due to unseasonably warm weather during this winter and spring, blueberries were ready for picking by early June. This year’s production is expected to be on par with the 2015 blueberry harvest which set a record for the largest yield ever in British Columbia.

Did you know? Blueberries are at their peak stage of ripeness within two or three days after turning blue.
Did you know? Blueberries are at their peak stage of ripeness within two or three days after turning blue.

The only thing better than having fresh blueberries is picking them yourself! There are plenty of U-Pick Farms in the Lower Mainland; however, Weller’s Blueberry Farm in Langley is considered by the locals to be extra special, not only for the delicious sweet, juicy berries but also because of the charming owner, 90-year-old Gert Weller. With 10 acres dedicated to blueberries, Weller’s farm is not necessarily the largest, but one of the oldest. He has been growing blueberries on his farm for over 40 years.

There are 10 varieties of highbush blueberries at Weller’s Blueberry Farm.
There are 10 varieties of highbush blueberries at Weller’s Blueberry Farm.

It’s no small feat to run a blueberry farm and the past few years have been particularly challenging for Weller, especially with his wife falling ill. Last season’s overabundance of berries was nearly lost by the lack of picking staff, until his grandson reached out on social media for help. The message of the Weller predicament went viral on WeChat (considered the most important social media network in China), which spread the word to the Greater Vancouver Chinese community. Hundreds of local Chinese residents came out to help u-pick and show support, saving Weller’s blueberry harvest from ruin.

90-year-old Gert Weller has been welcoming u-picking visitors to his farm for 40 years.
90-year-old Gert Weller has been welcoming u-picking visitors to his farm for 40 years.

Nowadays, Weller continues to cheerfully welcome all the u-pickers that visit his unassuming and no frills blueberry farm, close to Fort Langley. They are there, and some have been returning for years, including the supportive Chinese community to pick some of the best blueberries (no spray) in the Valley, enjoy the scenery, and meet the ever-cheerful Weller. Many of the visitors take time to talk and snap pictures with him.

Do yourself a favour, add a fun berry picking experience to your summer plans in one of the best blueberry regions in the country. And, make a point of visiting the Weller’s Blueberry Farm in Langley for an authentic and local very berry good time!

Weller’s Blueberry Farm
26097 – 84th Avenue
Langley, British Columbia
Telephone: 604-856-6817

$1.00 per lb for U-Pick blueberries
$1.50 per lb for ready picked blueberries
Open 8 am – 6 pm, Monday to Sunday

Enjoy beautiful views of the Fraser Valley while picking blueberries at the Weller’s Blueberry Farm.
Enjoy beautiful views of the Fraser Valley while picking blueberries at the Weller’s Blueberry Farm.
Tip: Store fresh picked berries in the refrigerator to extend their life and consume them within 10-14 days.
Tip: Store fresh picked berries in the refrigerator to extend their life and consume them within 10-14 days.
Highbush blueberry shrubs can be 5-7 feet tall.
Highbush blueberry shrubs can be 5-7 feet tall.
There are a whole lot of reasons to love blueberries! These nutritious blue gems are packed with goodness and healthy benefits. A cup of blueberries provides an excellent source of fiber (4 g), 24% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, along with a host of other nutrients.
There are a whole lot of reasons to love blueberries! These nutritious blue gems are packed with goodness and healthy benefits. A cup of blueberries provides an excellent source of fiber (4 g), 24% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, along with a host of other nutrients.
As a superfood, blueberries are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of all fruits and vegetables.
As a superfood, blueberries are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of all fruits and vegetables.
British Columbia is one of the largest highbush blueberry-growing regions in the world.
British Columbia is one of the largest highbush blueberry-growing regions in the world.

Find more U-pick blueberry farms on The Fraser Valley’s website.

Use your freshly-picked blueberries to make Kathy’s elegant Blueberry Galette!

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