Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vancouver - Post 1 - Blackberry picking

I have moved to Vancouver!!  I am embarking on my journey to Doctordom (the non-save-your-life kind), so I've moved to the big city to attend the University of British Columbia.  I have heard that Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities to live in, so I was pretty nervous coming here and taking an enormous paycut.  I am convinced, though, that I can have everything I want as long as what I want is defined by what I can afford to have.  Which is to say that I am committed to finding ways to live well, eat well, and play well in Vancouver on my shoestring budget.  I'll be recording my thrifty adventures on this blog, so stay tuned!

The first step to living cheap and well in Vancouver was to find an appropriate apartment.  I was pretty determined to live alone, and finding nice, affordable housing is always a challenge, anywhere you go.  After some hard looking, I found an amazing one bedroom apartment in the Sunset/South Hill part of town, which is a fabulous neighbourhood that will be the focus of much of my future blogging, I am sure.  One immediate problem I am having with the neighbourhood, though, is that there is nowhere particularly interesting to run.  There are no trails, no parks, just concrete.  So I drove across the bridge last weekend to try and find some good running in Richmond.  The running part of the story is not particularly interesting, but as I was exploring, much to my surprise I found..... bushes and bushes and bushes of blackberries!!

They were everywhere!! Lining the roads, filling vacant lots, loaded with ripe berries.  I couldn't believe it!  Those things are $2.50 for a tiny box at the grocery store, and here they were, free and abundant.  I spent the rest of the day picking, and I recommend you do the same!  They are everywhere!  I barely scratched the surface.  They are in abandoned lots, under the Skytrain tracks, along abandoned railway lines. Since then I have seen them everywhere nature has been allowed to grow untouched.  They seem to abound in industrial areas, along service roads... you could fill freezers absolutely free.  Wild, free blackberries.
I found many of my berries here - under the Skytrain just as it crosses over into Richmond, by the Night Market.

These are the abandoned railway tracks by the Richmond Night Market. You can see the Skytrain stop in the background, and the blackberry bushes crowding in on either side of the tracks.  You could fill a freezer full just from these bushes.
Picking blackberries wasn't the funnest thing - they have massive, unforgiving thorns and you need to pick them carefully, one by one so you don't stab yourself of smush them.  But at the end of the day, I got a pretty good haul.

I have a freezer full, but I made sure to keep some back for my immediate enjoyment.  I found a ton more bushes along Kent Avenue (south of Marine Drive SW) when I was running today.  I'll probably go back tomorrow and collect some more. They are absolutely fantastic in a morning smoothie.

If you are looking to do some picking of your own, I can suggest these two spots on the map below.  In Richmond I parked on Beckwith Road and Smith St. I walked around No 3 Road, wandered into lots and along the abandoned railway.  There is tons of good picking there.  Although I haven't picked along Kent Ave yet, it looks like there are an absolute ton of blackberries there and they do not look very well picked over.  You could pick along the Kent Ave Bikeway, but personally I suggest you check out the insdustrial side west of Argyle Avenue, since I don't think many people go there and the bushes look positively overloaded with berries.  It won't be the nicest place to pick, but you'll get some nice berries.  I have also found a lot of good bushes at the Sea Island Conservation Area out on Ferguson Road by the airport.  There are lots of bushes there, but there are also lots of dogs (i.e. peeing on the bushes) and because it's very scenic there are also a lot of other berry pickers.  But, pick your poison, I guess.  Good luck!

I suggest these two areas as guaranteed pickin' spots, but I am sure there are many, many more.
If you know of any other urban edibles in Vancouver, post 'em in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. You're in my neck of the woods! I was just Googling blackberry spots in Vancouver and thanks for the tips! Me and my son will definitely be hitting up some of these locales tomorrow morning =)
    For your running, have you tried Langara golf course? It's not too far away plus it's a little more interesting than running on the road. Also, there's the bike route along Ontario (?) also by can make it to Little Mountain and do some hill intervals.
    Happy picking!



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