by Nancy Stiles
We know what you're thinking: Blackberry picking is just great -- if only it didn't involve so much bending over. Eckert's (951 S. Green Mount Road, Belleville, Illinois; 618-233-0513) has got it covered.
Eckert's is one of the few orchards in the country with a new rotating trellis system that raises up the blackberries to eye level for easier picking. It also gives the blackberries more sun exposure.
Blackberry picking started June 27, but the new system was so popular, Eckert's had to suspend public picking for a few days in order to let more fruit ripen. Pick-your-own blackberries reopened Wednesday, July 3, and Eckert's has planted a bunch of different varieties that will ripen throughout the summer.
Find out what else you can pick next. Peaches are ripe now, too, and pick-your-own peaches opened Thursday, July 4, and runs through Sunday. Another peach-picking session will open later in July. "Customer demand for pick-your-own peaches has been great, so we decided to open pick-your-own with a new variety that ripens a little earlier than our previous earliest variety," Chris Eckert said. "This will give our customers the opportunity to come out during the Fourth of July holiday when they may have time off from work and be able to spend time with their family."
Picking for peaches is available daily from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m at 99 cents per pound; blackberry picking is open 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends for $2.99 per pound.
Be sure to call Eckert's Harvest Hotline at 618-233-0513 before you go to get up-to-date information on what fruit is still available that day.