Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Summer Job

In case you were wondering, Lynden is one of the largest raspberry producing areas in the world, and the largest in the United States. Last year alone, Washington harvested over 65 million pounds!!! We also grow strawberries and blueberries, but the raspberries are the heart and soul!!

Tyler has been fortunate enough to have had a steady job with DeVrie's berries for the last 3 years, the last two, driving a raspberry picker. His sister also had this job and kindly passed it on to her brother!!!

Tyler has informed me that this is "his" picker!! As you can see it has a nice roll back roof for those warmer days when he wants to work on his tan! His crew isn't as lucky...their roof is stationary!

As you can see, this is a very large machine, made by Korvan (now Oxbo) here in Lynden.

I think I forgot to mention how much he LOVEs it when I come out and take his picture...doesn't he look Happy???!!!

Driving from one row to the next.
Now, while there is a great deal of skill required, once he's lined up on a row, he engages the auto-steer and the picker drives itself. This is greatly appreciated on the longer rows since one can squeeze in a little cat-nap. The girls throw mushy berries at him before he gets to the end, just in case he needs waking up!!

Once he has a full load he heads to the flatbed truck to unload. Those bars underneath where he sits, vibrate as they go over the rows of berries, causing the ripe ones to fall off. They go to a conveyor belt where two girls sort out bad berries, leaves, frogs, birds, etc.!! Another girl holds the flat as it fills and another girl stacks the flats.

As he comes to the truck he is driving blind and has to rely on his sorters to let him know how close he is to the truck. So far so good!!!

Here are the lovely, "red" ladies getting ready to unload.
They unload quickly and the truck takes the berries to be unloaded in a refrigerated semi-truck. At the end of the day, the berries head to the processing plant.
Building lots of muscle here!

Six days a week, 11 to 12 hour days for about six weeks. It's not glamorous, but it's a great job and gives a lot of kids a chance to earn good money over the summer.
Oh yea, I can go pick some for myself anytime!!!!
Thanks Barb and Wayne!!


  1. Emily misses being out there! She called Barb too late and they had enough kids so she's working for MaBerrys - thank goodness for family!! Our friends from Idaho sent their son over here to work during berry season cuz' he just can't land a summer job in the city! I love living in the country/small town!

  2. That is quite a process. Raspberries are my favorite but I only get a few from my sister's patch.

  3. Theres a place right here in my town that makes those berry picking machines too! Ive always wondered what they look like in the fields picking, thanks for taking pics! I wanted to feeze blueberries this year, but they are soooo expensive!I think I'll pass on it!
    Looks like your summer is going great and you are staying busy busy busy!

  4. Wow, that is so incredibly Awesome!!! To be able to drive that "picker", So Cool!!! So times have definitely evolved, when my sisters and I were kids and living in Skagit County, they picked Strawberries and Blueberries as summer jobs with their hands ;) I was too young at the time, but finally one year they let me come out under age~I ate more than I picked and wasn't asked to come back ;(

  5. Honorable work, I must say! And as another raspberry farmer and employer of youngsters, I must say how much we value these kids who give us the best of their summer. We couldn't do it without them!!

  6. WHO KNEW? I never thought about how those yummy berries are picked. Thanks so much for sharing that. As farmers we always enjoy other farmer stories. Thankfully, we grow the sugar to put on top of those wonderful berries! Wish I had a cow so we could have some whipped cream too! :)

  7. I've always been SO CURIOUS about how they get these beautiful berries to market in such great shape...I'm glad you went to the trouble to take the pics and show us how its done! I loved this post! It looks like good, fun hard work, and that will make them memories to last the rest of their lives, too!
    ps: I'm not sure how I found your blog, but I'm glad I did, it's wonderful! I think I will look around awhile!

  8. What a great, informative and pretty post! I learned a lot (and lamented our own pitiful patch o berries)! All your gardens are amazing. Love all you share here!

  9. This is too son works for a raspberry farm outside of Lynden, Enfield Farms. This past summer was his 3rd year but he is a truck driver. Hard work for sure, but it's a good life lesson ;)