As a kid, I spent a lot of my time on the farm hunting for wild berry patches. I combed the woods and the perimeters of the fields looking for glimmers of red in the shadows of the overwhelming green foliage. Weaving my arms carefully through the branches so as not to snag them on the thorns, I picked the ripest berries and plopped them into my bucket. These were wild black raspberries, the first of the wild berries to come into season. They are tart and full of seeds that crunch between your teeth. Once I had a decently sized collection, I used to strip the gigantic leaves off the tree in the front yard (that I now know to be called a bigleaf magnolia) and fold a handful of berries up inside, tying up the packages with long blades of grass. I’d keep the packages in my backpack on the long car ride back to Virginia and pull one out for a snack occasionally. To me, they tasted like the farm.
But I was never here in the late summer when a different, more ubiquitous fruit was growing in the brush. Another cousin of the raspberry, wineberries are a bright, translucent red and are coated in a sticky substance that sometimes traps insects on its surface. They’re sweeter and less treacherous than the thorny black raspberries. I took a band of farm interns with me to look for the best patches. As we made our way up to Eagle Ridge a family of wild turkeys (a mother and five poults) took off for the tree-cover. Growing on almost every foot of space along the outside of Eagle Ridge were wineberries. We picked and ate until we were full and still brought plenty back with us. I first wanted to experiment with making jam from them but felt put off by the amount of materials it required. What we did have, however, were the ingredients for a vegan berry smoothie.
Ryder Farm Wild Berry Smoothie:
1 cup wine berries
1 cup black raspberries
1 ripe banana
tablespoon flax seed
¾ cup almond milk
1 cup ice
Blend ingredients and add almond milk to taste