COQUILLE — Blueberry picking season is underway and the folks out at Hazen’s Blueberry Farm have started harvesting commercial crops as well as opening its U-pick farm for folks of all ages to can come and enjoy picking their own fresh ripe blueberries.
“We opened a little early this year, but we now have sunshine,” owner Wally Hazen said. “Crops overall are looking a little lighter this year, but still a lot of berries at this point.”
The folks at Hazen's Blueberry Farm weigh out a few full buckets from U-pickers after a successful day in the fields.
Hazen bought his farm off of Fairview Road in Coquille to keep his horse. When he bought the property it came with five acres of blueberries planted. Now Hazen supplies local school districts' cafeterias with blueberries, and yearly opens up a section of his farm for folks and families to come pick their own berries.
According to Hazen on his first day open last Friday, U-pickers had picked around 1,200 pounds. For his commercial harvest Hazen said that a good year could yield around 50,000 pounds of blueberries.
“Peak picking is starting now, all it really takes are nice days where the sun shines, and these berries come out very quickly,” Hazen said.
This year Hazen has had some trouble find folks interested in picking berries for his commercial efforts. He offers 75 cents a pound to folks looking for some summer work.
What Hazen enjoys most about the blueberry season is seeing folks coming out and picking berries with their families. He charges no snack tax for little ones who eat more than they pick.
“I think the U-pick has proven to be one of the really fun things for me. Being able to see the repeat customers come out, and looking at the kids who are coming out, seeing where blueberries come from,” Hazen said.
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In the fields, children ran while parents picked. People laughed and snacked and chatted with each other.
“Its fun letting our daughter run around and get the experience of getting your own fresh fruit,” Emily Hashberger said.
Many folks return year after year to pick their share of berries for the summer season.
“I enjoy coming out here because it’s a tradition we’ve had in our family to come out to Hazen’s and pick berries,” Victoria Schmelzer said. “We’ve brought our grandkids out here, and it’s just something that we do every year. The people are very generous, very kind, and it’s very peaceful."
Of course, there’s no denying how beautiful the blueberry fields look when the vines are full on a bright summer day.
“It’s Oregon you know, why would not want to be out here,” Daniel Abel said. “How could you not want to be outside.”
One of Hazen’s favorite things to make out of blueberries is a pie. He recalled his grandmother making a blueberry pie when he was young and it being like nothing he had ever tasted before.
“I grew up in Wisconsin my first 10 years, and I remember my grandmother made blueberry pie. I said to her ‘grandma I love this when can we have it again’ and she said 'well blueberries are kind of expensive we just can’t have them all the time,’” Hazen said. “Of course, now we’ve got ourselves a blueberry farm and now we get a couple of pies a year.”