It’s official: Florida’s blueberry season has arrived. On Mar. 20, Florida Agritourism Association announced a list of “u-pick” blueberry farms around the state, so I went to Albritton Fruit Farms in Sarasota to pick some blueberries.
Blueberry season runs from mid-March to the end of May. Other blueberry-picking locations close to Pinellas County include Church Lake Farms in Odessa, Pasco County and Bobs Berries in Riverview.
Albritton operates its u-pick from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays through Sundays. Other locations may require appointments, but this farm allows visitors to simply show up and start picking.
My Blueberry Adventure
On Sunday, March 26, my boyfriend Chris and I arrived at Albritton around 10:30 a.m. A long drive down a dirt road finally opened to a field of blueberry bushes and an open, barn-like structure. Couples, friends, and families with young ones took to the field with white buckets and plastic bags.
Visitors must stop by the portable hand-washing stations before retrieving a bucket, which holds up to six pounds of blueberries.
The farm harvests four different kinds of blueberries, each with their own natural tastes and textures. They offer a color-coded sign with the blueberry varieties and descriptions for pickers.
The “Spring High-Blue” are the first to ripen, tend to be small or medium-sized berries, and are sweet with soft skin. The “Jewel-Purple” are large, soft-skinned berries with a tart flavor. The farm said this variety was the family’s favorite. The “Emerald-Green” are firm, semi-sweet berries that tend to be large. The “Arcadia-Orange” are semi-sweet berries with medium size and firmness.
To help visitors navigate the field, the farm keeps the blueberry plants in color-coded pots. I scoped out the blue and green pots since I prefer more sweet and firm blueberries.
Farm employees remind everyone to only pick the dark berries for the tastiest results. Green berries do not ripen after you pick them.
According to Albritton’s website, they are not a certified organic farm, but they practice sustainable farming. They assure visitors that “at the time of harvest, there are no harmful chemicals or residue on our blueberries. We follow all USDA guidelines for withdraw times.”
Time To Pack It Up
The Florida sun and heat didn’t make it easy on us. We were out in the field for about 30 minutes, but that’s plenty of time to collect a large amount of blueberries. We ended up with two pounds of freshly picked blueberries.
A funny sign next to the check-out read: “Sinners bell: Did you eat while you picked??? Repent here” with an arrow pointing down at the bell. We ate some berries along the way, so we had to pay our dues.
Albritton charges $6.50 per pound; our total was $13. Honestly, the cost and the experience were worth it. Other locations charge entry fees and parking, along with the final costs. Albritton did not.
Check out more Florida-grown blueberry farms where you can pick your favorite berries.
Albritton Fruit Farms, 9600 State Road 72, Sarasota. 941-780-0888