For Immediate Release - August 05, 2009

Despite Rain Delay, Berry Season Bursts into the Bay State

Massachusetts residents encouraged to indulge in delicious, locally grown berries

BOSTON - Loads of fresh, locally grown blueberries and raspberries are arriving at farmers markets and roadside stands across the Commonwealth, and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) encourages residents to buy local and visit any of the Bay State's 127 pick-your-own blueberry and raspberry farms.

"Berry season is in full swing in Massachusetts and a quintessential part of the local culinary experience during the summer months," said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares.

While wet weather has delayed the berry crop across Massachusetts, most farmers are now reporting strong yields. Blueberry and raspberry season usually starts in early July. The blueberry crop usually runs through the beginning of September and raspberries are around through the end September. This year farmers throughout the state have seen delays from a few days to a few weeks due to the rainy weather conditions, but many farmers are praising the rain because wet weather has saved them irrigation costs.

"We have saved money due to the rain, and have not had to irrigate at all this year," said Casey Vandervalk of Vandervalk Tree Farm in Mendon.

Blueberries are one of three commercially grown fruit species native to the United States and are packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, as well as vitamin C and fiber. They can be stored, unwashed, in the refrigerator for up to one week before eating or using in recipes ranging from jams and jellies to muffins and smoothies. Massachusetts is number two in the US for wild blueberry production and ranks 17 th for high bush (cultivated) blueberries. The state ranks tenth nationwide in production of raspberries.

Purchasing Massachusetts-grown berries is an ideal way to celebrate summer and support your local farmer at the same time.

For a list of Massachusetts blueberry and raspberry farms, pick-your-own berry farms, and farmers' markets and roadside produce stands, visit www.mass.gov/massgrown.

Facts on Massachusetts berries:

  • 40 percent of berry growers market their berries directly to consumers through roadside farm stands, farmers' markets and pick-your-own operations;
  • There are 915 blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry farms in Massachusetts;
  • Massachusetts produces 4.6 million pounds of berries per year.

The DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.