Deborahmclaren's Weblog

Sustianable Tourism, Buy Local, Rural-Urban Connections

Fall Raspberry Picking in Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on September 30, 2010

Every fall my husband Rob and I try to get out in the country for berry picking, usually near the St. Croix river just southeast of St. Paul. I love making hand-picked raspberry jam. This year I took our “friendship family” student, Ayu with us. She’s attending Univ. of St. Thomas for a year and stays in a dorm but we kind of look out for her. She’s awesome! Anil was grumpy and didn’t want to go but as soon as we picked up Ayu for the ride to the countryside he changed his attitude. She’s got that effect on everyone – cheerful and positive. It was fun driving through Minnesota prairies and by old farms. I admit my whole attitude changes too when I leave the city. There’s nothing like fresh air, being in nature, and being away from work and home obligations. Yeah!!!

Ayu ready for a hay ride

We drove to Afton Apple farm and noticed there were very few cars in the lot – normally there might be dozens. Unfortunately we learned a summer hail storm had destroyed much of their apple orchard and raspberry patch. We were determined to glean what we could from the field. We picked for over an hour and only got about a quart each – 3 quarts in all (Anil played while we picked). Most of the berries were small and not ripe yet. The patch had a few surprises though. It was full of spiders – a type I haven’t seen before. Let me know if you can identify this spider.

Raspberry loving spider

Afton Apple is really suffering this year. Some other orchards in the area have provided them with apples to sell that keeps them afloat. And they aren’t making anything on their raspberries. They still had a lot of goodies in their market – cheese curds, jams, everything needed for canning, pies and fresh cider. The animals in the petting zoo are still there. It’s always fun to see them. My favorite this year was a cute little black calf.

Playing in the hay!

The farm workers were happy to have some guests. They are always friendly there, but without the crowd this year they happily chatted away and pointed out the pumpkin field when we were on the hay ride. The pumpkins looked smaller than usually but fine. Hopefully they will have good sales. It was a lot of fun taking Ayu to the farm. She loved picking berries. She was determined!

We ended up getting raspberries from an organic market in Minneapolis and spent the rest of the weekend making jam. Yum!

Locally-owned farms are disappearing. Afton Apple tries to offer a mix of things to get people to come out. It’s a good thing this year when they have suffered because of hail. Please support small farms and get out to one near you today. This is the harvest season so no doubt there’s pumpkins, hay rides, corn maizes, and maybe some Halloween tricks or treats awaiting you! Click here to get a directory of Minnesota farms. Sunny skies are predicted for the rest of this week!

Cow Train

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