West Broad Farmers Market berries

A stall features fresh blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. The West Broad Farmers Market was open on Saturday, June 15, 2018, in Athens, Georgia and hosted many local musicians, artists and farmers. (Photo/Ryan Cameron rac86114@uga.edu)

Fresh, local produce is available at farmers markets around Athens, but picking the produce yourself is another way to access fresh fruit and vegetables while socializing and being outdoors. After the Fourth of July holiday, blueberry picking is one way to spend the weekend.

Hosted by nonprofit organization Concrete Jungle, the pick will take place at Spring Valley EcoFarms. With a history dating back before the Civil War, Spring Valley EcoFarms once grew cotton which damaged the soil over time. Now the farm grows various produce, including blueberries, that it sells in the Athens area.

Concrete Jungle is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that works to reduce food waste and provide fresh produce to underserved communities. Beginning in 2009, the organization began with people picking discarded apples from apple trees around Atlanta before expanding to other fruit and nut trees. After collecting the fruit, Concrete Jungle donates it in order to feed homeless people in the Atlanta area.

The organization has its own farm as well — Doghead Farm in Atlanta — where they host Farm Days every other Saturday for people to “lend a hand around our farm, make new friends and enjoy the great outdoors,” according to its website. Even though the group is based out of Atlanta, one of Concrete Jungle’s partner organizations is the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, which has a location in Athens.

With an Independence Day theme, the pick on Saturday is called Red, White and Blueberry and takes place just two days after the Fourth of July. Blueberries are grown in both north and south Georgia, according to University of Georgia Extension, and they are harvested from the end of May through the middle of July.

According to the Georgia Blueberry Commission, there are two types of blueberries grown in Georgia: the Southern Highbush and Rabbiteye. Southern Highbush blueberries are harvested earlier in the season and its plants last 10-15 years, whereas the Rabbiteye blueberries are harvested later in the season and its plants can last 30-50 years. Additionally, Rabbiteye blueberries can be picked by a machine while Southern Highbush blueberries are better off picked by hand.

The pick will take place right before the end of the blueberry season.

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