BERLIN — For 62 years, Southington resident Judy Kizilski has walked the rows of blueberry bushes at Hrubiec Farm, filling the homemade blueberry holder her mother taught her to make when they started going to the farm together when she was 10.
“It’s just a tradition with me,” she said.
Kizilski and her husband, Chic Smedes, were among the first at the farm on Monday for the farm’s first full week of blueberry picking this year. When Smedes drove by the farm on the way home last week and saw a sign saying the blueberry season had begun, he rushed home to tell his wife so they could go.
With 67 years in operation, stories like Kizilski’s are common at the farm, said Kate Scappini, whose family runs the farm. Many families are now in their third generation of visitors, with children of longtime pickers sifting through the leaves for berries.
“It’s like a family tradition,” she said. “Once they come once, they’re hooked.”
While the farm grows beets, cabbages and raspberries, it’s the 5,000 pick-your-own blueberry bushes people get excited for, she said. They grow a few different highbush cultivars, which have branches higher off the ground than most varieties. This makes it easier to get at harder to reach berries and don’t require bending over while picking.
The bushes have also thrived in the recent hot weather, Scappini said. “Right now the season looks great.”
Scappini said the berries have been a hit with local families with Polish roots, who use them as a popular pierogi filling. Walking through the fields, she often hears the language winding through the bushes and when she asked one woman how long she had been coming, the woman answered “around 30 years” in Polish.
Gabriela Pszczolkowski, of Southington, said she’s been bringing her kids for years to all enjoy time together and eat some delicious blueberries at the end.
“It’s quality time and it’s tranquil out here,” she said.