Lori is the Assistant Director of Tioga County Tourism.

It’s blueberry season! Tioga County has some great places to pick, so I went on a mission to find some berries for a recipe I’ve wanted to try for a while, blueberry perogies. Homemade perogies are a tradition in my family, and I was excited to try this new twist on an old favorite. 

I found a new organic blueberry farm called Berry Good Acres on Upper Fairfield Road in Newark Valley. I decided to go there first because their berries are organic and they accept cash, check, and credit/debit cards. They are open, 9 am-7 pm, every day.  I hadn’t been blueberry picking in so long, so I was excited to try a new place. It was a beautiful afternoon, with blue skies and fluffy clouds. I grabbed my bucket and on I went. Making a left from Cross Creek road onto Upper Fairfield, I felt as if I was miles away when actually I was only 13 minutes from downtown Owego.  You can’t see the bushes from the road, you have to drive a little on a mowed grassy path. As I arrived, I was greeted by a sweet little girl that climbed the fence and flashed me a huge smile. Her Dad waited on me from a table, also with a big smile.

Right now, because of covid 19, we cannot borrow buckets so I brought my own. He explained that right now is not peak season so I might not get as many blueberries as I wanted and that most of their pickers are from the Amish community.  I have to admit it was a little sparse but I was able to pick a whole bucket in about an hour, just enough for a couple dozen pierogis and for snacking. As I was picking, I listened to the quietness of the country and then heard children running from their house to the fields, playing with each other and catching butterflies. The beautiful sound of children, you can’t beat that! In another two weeks I will be able to get as many as I want in a short amount of time by the looks of the unripened fruit on the bushes. I took a photo of what I am looking forward to when the berries are big and blue. As I was leaving, two local, young Amish people were walking down the hill with their buckets to fill. I talked with them a few minutes before I left. 

A few days later, I went to Richford Hill Farm on 659 Payne Marsh Road in Richford. It was a little tricky to find.  Your GPS will tell you that you have arrived at your destination way before you actually do so keep going about ½ mile. On the way, you will pass Richford Hill Winery which uses the berries from the farm to make their wine. Then turn left on Route 79 then another left on Perry Road, a dead end that will take you to the blueberry bushes. Up there I met two women, Sandy and Kelly, that just finished picking and they were very happy with their goods.

It was so beautiful up there and I was able to sample some of the berries including the white currants which were all delicious. I noticed that they had hummingbird feeders scattered around the property. I found out that because they don’t spray the blueberries, the humming birds deter the Spotted Wing Drosophila (fruit fly). It must work because I didn’t see any. There was an abundance of berries for everyone to pick. They are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. so you have plenty of time to get out there. They also have what they call Share Picking which is where if you pick two buckets, you give them one and your bucket of equal size is free! 

On my way back on route 38 in Berkshire, I noticed a sign that pointed up Jewett Hill Road that read “Hillberry Organic Blueberries, 3ish miles up.” I had to check them out! Driving up I got a little confused as there was a fork in the road, I took the left fork and luckily, I took the correct one. When I arrived at the farm, I was greeted by a Knight in Shining Armor playing what I think was Gregorian Chant music. It was so cool and I was happy to see they have NOFA Certified Organic Blueberries!

The owners, Karin Dahlander and Patrick Hickey were very welcoming with huge smiles that just made me feel so happy.  I loved the colors of their houses and the signs in their farm stand like, HATE HAS NO HOME HERE, and A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN. they even had a heart painted on a nearby shed! I could really feel the love! They hire Amish folks that live nearby to pick the berries for them and they sell them at the Greenstar and Ithaca Farmers Market. They are open 9 am-8 pm.

The next day I stopped at Gary’s Berries on my way to work. They are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I had been there maybe 10 years. ago and I can tell you, it has really grown. They were pretty busy for a Tuesday morning I thought, and all the pickers were wearing masks. He said this year, especially opening day, has been the busiest year yet. Gary’s has parking directors to help people park and there were a lot of blueberries and everyone seemed satisfied with their picking! Gary’s is located right on route 17C in Endicott. I took a walk up to the pond and took some panoramas of the beautiful property. 

After a couple of days of picking, I was excited to start one my blueberry perogies. I got my Mom’s pierogi dough recipe out and am starting to create my culinary delight. Although this isn’t the recipe that she uses now I thought I would show you because of the way she described how to make them. Now her recipe is, 3 cups flour, 2 eggs, and 1 cup sour cream and it was very easy and turned out perfect.

I used about 5 or 6 blueberries and ¼ teas sugar and made the rest as Mom instructed.  I full boiled water and added pierogis and after it returned to a boil, I let it boil for 7 minutes, drained, and put on some butter to coat. Sour cream is good on them too, it’s up to you!