You could pay between $3.50 and $8 for a small punnet of blackberries. Or you could pick your own.
I am a huge urban forager. I must admit that the thought of eating weeds does not inspire many people, and I have been on the receiving end of jokes by my family. But eating wild blackberries – well, that is an altogether different thing. Not only is it fun, but blackberries are delicious.
Blackberries grow so well in Canberra that they are a noxious weed. Once you know where to look you will see them everywhere. In late 2014 there were even media reports of helicopters being used to pour chemicals on them in Canberra.
But don’t worry too much about blackberries being laced with chemicals. According to urban foraging expert Susan Hutchinson of Susan’s Sumptuous Suppers there are always signs up to alert people to when blackberry bushes have been sprayed. And the ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services rarely sprays during blackberry season.
Last year was my first time to go blackberrying. I picked furtively at first, worrying that I was doing something wrong. But soon I began to notice others were doing exactly what I was doing. And once I blogged about my experience and shared recipes, I found that other friends were interested as well. My vision is for Canberrans to get out and enjoy picking these amazing berries. And even better, for Canberrans to make blackberry expeditions a fun part of our bush capital culture. Why not eat them rather than poison them?
Blackberries were late to ripen this year, and I picked my first batch only last weekend. With the heatwave that Canberra is experiencing, they are ripening quickly and I expect the season will be short. To set off on a blackberry expedition you need to wear long pants, and take with you a decent sized plastic container and band aids. They are prickly little things, and invariably someone will come away with scratches. But isn’t the adventure of scrambling for the perfect blackberries part of the fun?
Here are a few of my favourite places to find blackberries in Canberra:
- Along Lady Denman Drive, near the turnoff to the National Arboretum and down as far as the National Zoo and Aquarium. This is a popular spot, and you are likely to find fellow foragers.
- The Jerrabombera Wetlands. There are huge expanses of blackberries here. Start at the Fyshwick end and discover. The best are often off the paths.
- Coppins Crossing. This area is being developed, but there are still large swaths of blackberry pushes.
- Along Lake Burley Griffin, near the Yarralumla Nursery.
Where are your favourite blackberry places in and around Canberra?