published Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Great places to pick fruits and vegetables

We're right in the heart of summer, and veggie and fruit lovers know what that means: fresh tomatoes, corn, okra, cantaloupe and peaches. You name it, it's yours for the picking.

You can find most local produce, including tomatoes, melons and peaches, at area farmers markets and roadside stands. There are still some farmers, mostly berry growers, who will let you come to the fields to pick your own. I called around and found some great places, so clip this column and get ready for some fun in the fields. Just be sure to call ahead for hours and to double-check availability.

  • Bollenbacher Blueberries: The blueberries will be good for picking through early August, according to farm owner Gus Bollenbacher. Address: 445 Old Sweetwater Road (County Road 220), Sweetwater, Tenn. Phone: 423-337-9562.
  • Flat Top Mountain Farm: Get ready to make some great cobblers and jams with blackberries you can pick through early August. Address: 13100 Jones Gap Road (on Flat Top Mountain), Soddy-Daisy. Phone: 423-332-0678.
  • Morris Vineyard and Winery: Blueberries through July, then pick muscadines from mid-August through September. Address: 346 Union Grove Road, Charleston, Tenn. Phone: 423-479-7311.
  • Thedford's Blueberries: Pesticide-free blueberries will be available through the end of the July "barring any unforeseen problems," said farm owner Brenda Thedford. Address: 100 John Deere Lane, Spring City, Tenn. Phone: 423-365-5764 or 423-847-7510.

When you get those berries home, here's a recipe I found at allrecipes. com using both blackberries and blueberries to give you a double wallop of berry flavor as long as berry season lasts. Don't think about how fattening this dish may be. Think about how healthful it is. Blackberries and blueberries are loaded with antioxidants.

Black-and-Blue Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup shortening

5 tablespoons cold water

3/4 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups fresh blueberries

11/2 cups fresh blackberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

In bowl, combine 2 cups flour and salt, and cut in shortening until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until flour is moistened. Gather into a ball, and roll out onto a lightly floured board. Make two rounds. Place one crust in a 9-inch pie dish.

Mix sugar, 1/3 cup flour and cinnamon. Stir in berries to coat. Turn filling into pastry-lined pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice, dot with butter. Cover with top crust; cut slits in the top. Seal and flute.

Bake at 425 F for 35 to 45 minutes. Cover edges with foil to prevent burning, and remove foil for last 12 minutes of baking. Serve with whipped topping or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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