For Immediate Release - June 29, 2012

Agriculture Officials Encourage Massachusetts Residents to Enjoy Locally Grown Blueberries

BOSTON – Friday, June 29, 2012 – Summer is here, and that means locally grown blueberries are back on the market and ready for picking. This year, Massachusetts is home to 67 pick-your-own-blueberry farms and to hundreds of farmers’ markets and roadside stands.

“Blueberry season is one of the many highlights of a Massachusetts summer. Locally grown, pick-your-own blueberries are a great way to have fun with the family, from picking in the field to the creations on your table,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Greg Watson.

The blueberry crop this year came with some challenges including an early bloom that was taken by a frost in some areas of the state, but mild temperatures have blueberries back on blooming track.

John Pipiras of Birdhaven Blueberry Farm in Southampton reports “an early crop, but just a few more days and it will be really sweet.” The farm offers pick-your-own high bush blueberries in a child-friendly environment, with refreshments.

Native to North America, blueberries or Vaccinium corymbosum are perennial flowering plants  in the same family as cranberries. Varieties of blueberries more commonly grown in Massachusetts are Berkley, Bluecrop, Coville and Earliblue. Massachusetts is number two in the U.S. for wild blueberry production and ranks 17th for high bush (cultivated) blueberries.

Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants that may prevent diseases such as cancer. In addition, this small but mighty fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, manganese and fiber. An extremely versatile berry, these fruits can be used in many recipes such as pies, muffins, jams, jellies and smoothies.

For more information and directions to Massachusetts' blueberry farms, farmers' markets, pick-your-own berry farms, and roadside produce stands, visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/map.htm.

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at www.twitter.com/MDARCommish or www.twitter.com/MassGrown.

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