Visit Green Meadows Farm, then visit shops and restaurants of Monticello for a delightful day of discoveries.
Starting your day with homemade blueberry ice cream, sitting on a farm bench, listening to bird songs on Bluebird Road — what could be better? Well, actually picking blueberries is a pretty grand activity, too, as my husband and I discovered on Saturday.
We went to Green Meadows Farm on June 25, joining other pickers, many with kids in tow who were enjoying gobbling the berries as well as picking them. We walked through bushes laden with lots of plump, USDA certified organic berries, some still ripening, but mostly a midnight blue.
I scarf down blueberries like M&Ms (I have to admit I gobble those, too), but I had never been picking before. It was fun and pretty easy.
Delores and Ronny Green, owners of Green Meadows Farm, grow more than a dozen varieties of rabbiteye blueberries on thousands of bushes. Walk up and down the rows and you’ve walked three miles, says Ronny Green, co-owner with wife Delores.
You probably know this already but aside from their sweet-tart refreshing taste, blueberries are a powerhouse food, low in calories but high in nutrients and antioxidants.
We gathered three pounds in less than 30 minutes. But the attraction at Green Meadows wasn’t just the pickin. It was visiting the farm, too.
On Saturday, the Greens were selling fritters, made by Johnston Meat Market using the farm-grown berries, Key lime and blueberry ice cream, blueberry lemonade tea and live music. Bob Manhard, who Ronny describes as a computer genius, was playing a variety of handmade instruments, teaching kids about them as well.
We got there a little late (the event started at 7:30 a.m.) about 10 a.m. and the fritters were sold out. So was the Key lime ice cream. But we did manage to snag the last two containers of the blueberry ice cream. It was so delicious, made by Delores.
The good news is that you can still get out to the farm on Friday, July 2 and Saturday, July 3 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., a rare late pick for Green Meadows. They’ll have fritters and lemonade but they’re not sure yet about the ice cream.
The couple told us about the farm, which they opened to the public in 2008. Delores, who taught gifted children for years, and Ronny have turned the farm into a lovely setting for country life. The couple provides food and water for critters and their farm has been designated a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
The Greens also have some homemade items by local crafters, including embroidered pillow cases, aprons and a cookbook from Green Meadows Farm called “Blueberries and More,” with recipes from Delores, friends, family and customers. I had to buy the cookbook and am eager to try recipes like Becky Parsons’ Favorite Blueberry Cobbler and Blueberry and Peach Trifle. There are lots of non blueberry dishes as well like Key Lime-Garlic Chicken and Odessa Fayard’s Meatballs & Tomato.
Before starting their farm, Delores was a teacher of gifted children for many years and Ronny was a professor of education leadership at Florida State University, then Valdosta State University.
As for picking, you want to run your hand under the berries. Ripe berries, farmers advise, will fall right off the bush and you can catch them in your bucket or basket. If you have to tug at them or if they’re still white or pinkish in color, they’re not ready. My husband was better at this than I was. These berries are wonderful and I’m about to search through this cookbook so I can make all kinds of treats.
Any suggestions? What are your favorite ways to use blueberries or do you just grab a handful?
While you’re in Monticello, make it an outing. We walked around downtown, checked out several vintage shops and had an excellent lunch of fried green tomatoes, a fried shrimp basket and BLT at Brick House Eatery at 190 N. Jefferson St.
Green Meadows Farm is at 177 E. Bluebird Rd.; 850-997-4886