Memorial Day weekend marks the end of school, the beginning of summer, and the kickoff for blueberry season in Jackson County.
Anyone who loves blueberries, whether using them in a favorite dessert or just eating a handful of berries as a snack, should not miss the opportunity to pick their very own blueberries, which anyone can do right here in Jackson County, thanks to Vancleave’s own Blueberry Heaven.
“A man by the name of Mr. Turner and his wife Martha planted this field about 20 years ago,” said Sissy Inabinette. “They planted the field when he was in his 60s, over 6,000 bushes. As he grew older, he decided to sell it. My brother ended up with it, and I ended up working it. Lewis and Mr. Turner were visiting one day and all this was in bloom and my brother said, ‘Oh my goodness, this must be what heaven looks like.’ So they ended up naming it Blueberry Heaven.”
Today, Blueberry Heaven has 6,500 mature blueberry bushes that all produce fruit for public picking. For $10, anyone who visits Blueberry Heaven can pick their own berries straight from the berries. For $20, a visitor can get a gallon of pre-picked berries.
“You never really know what a blueberry tastes like until you can pick it off the bush and eat it,” Inabinette said. “We don’t spray any pesticides, and in the super market a gallon of blueberries could cost you around $48. We encourage people to go have lunch or dinner then come and have dessert here on us.”
Blueberry Heaven offers four varieties of blueberries, allowing visitors a longer time frame to pick their own fruit.
“Normally, there is a short window to pick blueberries, which lasts from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July,” Inabinette explained. “We have Bluetifs, some Premiers, some Climax and some Brightwells. The good thing about having four varieties is you’ll have one variety that starts at the end of May, and then another one that starts at the first of June. Then there is a late variety that comes in at the end of June, so there will be berries that will be here well into July. We encourage people to come pick in July, if they can handle the heat, and enjoy the late variety as well.”
With thousands of blueberry bushes available to her, Inabinette has had plenty of chances to experiment with different blueberry recipes.
“I’ve made lots of jelly, lots of jam, lots of pies and now I’m trying a little bit of blueberry wine,” she said. “One recipe I like to share is really simple. You take a can of crushed pineapple and put it in your casserole dish. You add four cups of blueberries on top of it. You take a yellow cake mix and a stick of butter and mix it together. You crumble that on top of the fruit and put some walnuts on it. Bake it for about 35-40 minutes, and it is so delicious.”
Inabinette encourages anyone who enjoys blueberries, or anyone looking for something fun to do outdoors, to take a visit to Blueberry Heaven.
“Come and be amazed. It’s an awesome place to come and bring your children or bring your mom and dad,” she said. “It’s one of the best kept secrets of Jackson County.”