Foraging for blackberries reconnects children and their food sources

Published 12:24 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Ask a kid where blackberries come from and most will respond, “The grocery store.” I don’t blame the kid for this response, but I would wager a large sum that most kids have no clue what a blackberry patch looks like. The same could be said for any other berry that is normally found in the produce section. 


 In just a few generations, our society has become increasingly separated from their food sources. In children’s church this past Sunday, a four year old told me he doesn’t eat fish from a lake or ocean. He only eats fish from a grocery store. 

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Many folks are starting to feel the disconnect from food and are trying to reattach. Families are raising chickens for eggs and a resurgence in gardening is bubbling up across the country. 


If you don’t have a garden or room for chickens, one of the easiest ways to teach kids that food is not always packaged in plastics is to go foraging. 


This time of year is great for foraging. With a quick internet search, you can find many places to pick blueberries or blackberries. There are many “u-pick” options, but with a little hike, you can find berries without paying by the pound. 


Blackberries are found where sunlight is abundant. Recently timbered hillsides will be loaded with blackberries in the coming weeks. 


This weekend we went to see if some berries we know of ripened with the recent rain. My wife and kids followed me up a steep logging road to a blackberry patch I found during deer season. 


 In no time, the kids were covered in red clay. The dew soaked grass in the road added the perfect amount of moisture to clump the dirt on their shoes and pants. As we reached the clearing we saw tons of red berries. 


“Are those cranberries Dad?”, the kids asked. I thought back to when I asked my dad the same question. With a smile he told me to try one and see. The bitter taste of unripe blackberries still haunts me. 


The further we hiked past the red berries, we started to find a few pockets of ripe blackberries. These were picked quickly and tossed in a bucket. The toughest part about berry picking is having the discipline to put them in the bucket and not your mouth. 


I’d hear giggles behind me as I navigated the briars. When I turned around, berries seemed to have evaporated from the bucket and the kids’ teeth were purple. 


We didn’t fill our bucket, but we know where to go the next couple of weeks. Maybe one day someone will ask my kids where to get blackberries. My hope is that their mind will take them back to the sunny bramble patch, not the produce section in the grocery store.