Local farm starts their first-ever blueberry picking season

EAST LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Summer, so far, has been fairly hot and dry with temps reaching the 80s’ in western Mass. and while many are out and about enjoying the sun, local farms are taking a hit.

It’s the time of year when local farmers are growing their summer crops, but the heat and little rain this season is making it very difficult to do so.

From strawberries to squash and zucchini, farms across western Mass. have been planting the seeds anticipating great results, but this year, owner of Meadowbrook Farms in East Longmeadow John Burney told Western Mass News this isn’t the case.

Due to the lack of rain, crops are struggling to grow, which is leaving farmers very little to offer.

“From mid-May to June it’s been exceptionally dry, so it was very difficult to keep up on a planting schedule, and then we had to irrigate the crops that were already planted,” he said. “It involves a whole other step and whole other procedures with a lot of man-hours.”

Burney said their extra efforts have included moving pipes and pumps. It also includes constantly watering crops to make up for the lack of rain.

But looking forward, Burney told us they have switched their focus to their 15 acres of blueberries, a crop that is more drought-tolerant.

Starting tomorrow, Meadowbrooks Farm will initiate their first-ever blueberry picking season.

“We have a new venture here, we just purchased a blueberry farm last fall, and we’re going to open up [a] pick-your-own-blueberries on Thursday,” Burney explained.

Open every day for people to come by, and with a large amount of space to venture out into the blueberry fields, Burney told Western Mass News this is beneficial for keeping social distancing guidelines in place.

“We have a great big area here,” he said. “So we certainly can spread the people out, and it shouldn’t be a worry.”

Burney also said he expects big crowds to come out during the pandemic.

“I think it’s a great activity. They said that it’s one of the safest places to be [while] outdoors in the sunshine,” he said. “I think that people are dying for something to do outdoors, and picking blueberries will be a great activity.”

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