Judges taste every blackberry dishes, but the public also gets to sample a handful of dishes and vote on people’s choice. (Langley Advance Times files)

Langley’s annual blackberry bake-off spotlights invasive plant

The annual event is Aug. 22 at the Langley Demonstration Garden in the Derek Doubleday Arboretum

Anyone who has battled blackberry bushes knows they are a formidable foe in the garden.

That’s why the Langley Environmental Partners Society attacks the invasive species from a different angle.

The annual Blackberry Bake-off is a way to spotlight the unwelcome plant and takes place this year on Thursday, Aug. 22.

“The Blackberry Bake-Off is a fun community event, and a tradition people look forward to each year. It is also an opportunity to help the environment,” Langley Demonstration Garden co-ordinator Sophia Nguyen said.

The highlight of the event, which runs noon to 3 p.m., is the sampling of blackberry dishes submitted for the bake-off contest.

People are encouraged to pick those local blackberries, and sign up to enter a culinary creation in the Blackberry Bake-Off, for a chance to win local fame as Langley’s best blackberry chef.

“Blackberries are a highly invasive species that quickly blanket vast areas, take over natural vegetation, and threaten local biodiversity. Eating as many of the seeds as possible will help prevent them from spreading,” Nguyen explained. “Also, as you pick the blackberries, we recommend bringing along a pair of garden shears to help cut down the canes, helping to control their spread and free the native plant species often found underneath- and, that makes it easier to reach those really big, juicy berries growing way up!”

The public gets to vote on their favourite bake-off dishes in the people’s choice category. There are typically about two dozen dishes entered for competition – both sweet and savory – and a panel of local dignitaries also do overall judging. In addition to bragging rights, the winners receive prizes.

To obtain a list of acceptable ingredients, contest rules, and to enter a creation in the Blackberry Bake-Off, contact the Langley Environmental Partners Society at 604-546-0344 or garden@leps.bc.ca.

During the free, all-ages event at the garden, located in the Derek Doubleday Arboretum, there will be live music, displays, activities and games, a kids’ craft corner where they make eco-crafts to take home with them, and a locally sourced barbecue that costs $5.

The bake-off has evolved to include an open house where people can check out not only the LEPS Demonstration Garden but also the nearby community garden plots. There are typically booths there from local environmental agencies or programs offering information to the public.

The Derek Doubleday Arboretum is in the 21200 block of Fraser Highway. There’s ample parking and the site is flat for those with mobility issues.

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