It’s summertime, friends.
For many people, the long days of summer mean outdoor fun, under a sun we only get to see for about three months each year. Many people wait all year long to romp about the peninsula and enjoy the multitude of activities our region provides, and for many people that includes sampling the many berries that are ripening up during the dog days of summer.
Tami Meader of the Bainbridge Island Fruit Club knows exactly what fruit lovers are looking for this time of year and, according to Meader, now is prime berry-picking time.
The Bainbridge Island Fruit Club meets the third Thursday of each month in the Bainbridge Island Grange Hall. Grafting workshops, pest prevention, best practices for garden care, tours of local gardens and even cider-making workshops are all topics of discussion during club meetings.
Of course, no fruit club would be complete without participants bringing in samples of their homegrown goodies, which Meader said is a regular occurrence.
“The goal is to get people more interested in their gardens and fruit trees and fruits,” Meader said. “Just getting people knowledgeable about what’s in their yards and what the potential is.”
Meader said that most backyard gardens are in full-swing berry-wise, with many folks’ bushes producing strawberries faster than they can make pie crust for. Raspberries are in full swing too and visitors to Bainbridge Island can visit Suyematsu Farms on Day Road and pick their own raspberries — a sweet family activity.
Blueberries are also starting to ripen up, Meader said, as are loganberries and boysenberries. For those who are looking for a more exotic berry experience, Meader suggested the black and red currants, gooseberries and jostaberries that are plentiful and well on their way to being ripe all around Kitsap.
The jostaberry, Meader said, is in the Ribes family and looks a bit like a gooseberry but without the thorns, making picking slightly more agreeable.
“My personal favorites are the natives,” Meader said. “The thimbleberry has just waned, as has the salmonberry, but the red huckleberry is in full fruit mode. Later in August, the black huckleberry — the evergreen one — will be ripe to eat.”
Meader said black huckleberries are a favorite cooking ingredient among fruit club members, for use in muffins and jams. She added that salal berries are a tasty treat as well, and will become much sweeter if pickers wait until late august or early September.
“I love all our native plants here. They are hardy, the animals love them,” Meader said. “I wish I knew more about them; the Native Americans had so many medicinal uses for them. I feel like we’re missing out.”
Meader said the Fruit Club is open to new members and that they would love to see some fresh faces at their next meeting on Aug. 17.
So if you’re looking to get berry smart, or just become a bit more savvy in the garden, don’t hesitate to make a trip to the island and attend a meeting of the Bainbridge Island Fruit Club.
For more information on meetings or discussion topics, visit www.bifruitclub.wordpress.com.
Also in the area: The Peninsula Fruit Club is a chapter of the West Cascade Fruit Society, serving the Kitsap Peninsula and northern Pierce County in Washington state. Its purpose is to provide education on growing and caring for various fruits west of the Cascades.
Meetings are at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month except December, at Bremerton Parks and Recreation’s Sheridan Community Center Lounge, 680 Lebo Blvd., Bremerton. Find them on Facebook or on their website, http://wcfs.org/membership/peninsula-kitsap-fruit-club-pfc/.
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.