As the Great Northern Peninsula transitions from summer to fall, so does the activity of residents from digging their vegetable gardens, moose hunting, packing in fire wood and of course, a family favourite – patridgeberry picking.
Yesterday after loading up the truck and packing in some wood, my uncle dropped by and asked me to go patridgeberry picking. I have to be quite honest that they are not my favourite berry, but in recent years, I’ve acquired a likeness for their tart taste.
The land surrounding the St. Anthony airport has been known as a great place to pick berries. Some days the road would be lined with parked vehicles and many beef bucket pails or even 5 gallon buckets for some, while others would collect these berries in a small cup. It’s a known area for berries, but don’t go asking a Newfoundlander for their berry picking grounds, some will take that secret to their grave.
In years where berries are plentiful, these ripe red beauties take no time to pick. This year seems a little different as you have to walk a little further and like bakeapple picking, you have to work to pick each one.
Yesterday was my first time patridgeberry picking in recent memory. It took me a long time to fill my jug and collect nearly a gallon of berries. The reward though will be fresh homemade jam, pies, muffins, buns, cheesecake, puddings and a few partridgeberry martinis.
As you can see from the photos above, these berries are very versatile and finding their ways into more food and beverage than on homemade bread or in a pie.
There’s something extremely rewarding about gathering your own food directly from the land. I love knowing where my food comes from and that I was the one to collect it. A wildberry has immense value and is appreciated by those who work hard to collect them.
Rural Newfoundland and Labrador continues to change, but like the changing of the seasons we hold onto many of our cultural traditions. It becomes a natural calling to head to the places where the berries grow and gather before a long cold winter sets in.
Patridgeberry picking remains an important part of life in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. As the world becomes more urbanized, we must not forget the immense value that comes from rural parts of the globe.
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