Learning Ahead: Season of Berries

Season of Berries

Summer is the season of berry picking and canning! It’s the time of year when pies are baked and fruit is canned to enjoy during the colder months.

During the months of July and August, blueberries become ready for picking. There are many farms in Western MA where you can pick your own berries, or farm stands and markets to purchase local berries to enjoy at home. At http://www.poets.org, read Robert Frost’s poem “Blueberries” before heading out to your nearby blueberry farm to fill your pail. Consider the first and last stanza and how Frost describes the beauty of the ripe blueberry:

“Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!”

As you read the rest the poem, consider how is it structured. As a conversation between two people? What are they discussing? How is the blueberry and berry picking discussed in this poem? Bring the poem with you and read it together amongst a colony of blueberry bushes. 

Once your pails are brimming with ripe fruit, eat them fresh and bring some home too to prepare blueberry preserves, blueberry buckle, and blueberry pies!

Do you know the history of the pie? The concept of pie as food can be traced to ancient civilizations where basic types of pastries were produced with the use of oils and grains. Pies, as we know it today, seem to have originated in the Middle Ages as a pastry to enclose a filling. In the United States, American pies were derived from traditional English pies. They were often of a crude crust, but were an easy way to feed many in a family, since the crust required less flour than bread and it was a way to utilize different ingredients.

For more information about the history of pie, check out a food timeline illustrating the evolution of pies throughout the centuries and different cultures at www.foodtimeline.org/foodpies.html.

Thinking about berry picking for your own pie-making or canning adventures? Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture’s web site, www.farmfresh.org, is a great resources for locating local farms near your town to pick berries during the different berry growing seasons. Visiting a local farm in your area connects us with our regional landscape, gives us experience with the historic tradition of New England agriculture, and connects us with family, friends, and neighbors while engaging in a traditional activity that has been practiced for centuries.

Think about this:

  • What pies do you traditionally bake? Do you have a favorite family recipe?
  • How is pie baking determined by the season?
  • How does canning allow us to enjoy a particular season’s bounty year round, particularly during the non-growing seasons?
  • How does blueberry picking in the summer allow you to engage and get to know our community?
  • How can pies shape our memories and connects us to those we have spent time with and who are an important part of our personal history?

Download our July/August edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.



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