Butler County Times Gazette
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It's berry pickin' time
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By Brandon Case
Brandon Case has spent the majority of his life living near the 99th Meridian, an imaginary line used for mapping purposes that circles the earth and runs through the North and South Poles.
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Picking wild blackberries along a back road in Oregon in late August.
Picking wild blackberries along a back road in Oregon in late August.
By Brandon Case
Sept. 5, 2013 12:01 a.m.



Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, Marion berries, tayberries … it’s berry picking time in the Willamette Valley of northwest Oregon.

In fact, it seems that July and August every turn brings a roadside fruit stand, farm, or local farmer’s market with its own mix of berries for sale. Due to the area’s moderate climate, many species of berry, particularly blackberry and Marion berry, often grown through the end of September.

You don’t have to buy your berries at a roadside stand, though. For a lesser price, many farms allow you to pick as much as you’d like—and freely eat while doing so.

You may also opt for the free, wild blackberries, which grow throughout western Oregon and are even considered an invasive species. This invasive species proliferates everywhere—along interstate and state highways, along back roads and in back yards. Known as the Himalayan, or Armenian, blackberry, it’s literally taking over areas of the region and landowners sometimes resort to chemical control to impede its progress.

My wife and I discovered the wonders of Oregon berries at the weekly farmer’s market in Hillsboro, Oregon in late August. Not only did we sample a wide variety of berries from numerous vendors, but we also enjoyed samples of these berries baked into various pastry creations. A day spent at the market was truly a berry-lover’s heaven.

Incidentally, the Willamette Valley was the final destination for many 19th Century pioneers on the Oregon Trail. I can only imagine how this lush, green, misty valley appeared to settlers after their long, dusty, dry journey across the arid American West.

If you love berries, you may want to make your own Oregon Trail journey some summer. August is typically the best month for berries.

If you go, your Willamette Valley experience will likely be summed up, like ours was, in one word: delicious.

 

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