Isley Hamilton enjoyed blackberry mousse at the Blackberry Bakeoff in 2015.

Annual Langley event devoted to the blackberry

The Blackberry Bakeoff on Aug. 18 spotlights the delicious fruit from a pesky plant.

Soft and juicy, blackberries are packed with nutrients such as vitamin C and K, some vitamin E and a variety of B vitamins, several minerals and phytochemicals, not to mention beta-carotene, which the human body converts to vitamin A.

They are ever so tasty but they come with nasty spikes and a penchant for taking over the yard.

The Langley Environmental Protection Society (LEPS) holds the annual Blackberry Bakeoff to spotlight the invasive plant and have some tasty fun as well.

The annual bakeoff runs noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18.

Aspiring cooks and bakers are encouraged to put their creations to the test of public taste buds.

All entries must be submitted by 12:15 p.m. on Aug. 18 and tasting starts at 12:45 p.m.

Those entering the Bakeoff should contact Demonstration Garden coordinator Meg Jordan at garden@leps.bc.ca or call 604-546-0344 for a list of acceptable ingredients, food safe considerations, and contest rules.

In addition to the berry bakeoff, LEPS has a barbecue with locally sourced food for $5.

There’s also games, displays, activities, live entertainment by local musicians, and a chance to make eco arts and crafts. People can check out the LEPS demonstration garden which is within the Derek Doubleday Arboretum at 212th Street and Fraser Highway.

Many people have discovered that the bakeoff is a fun way to try a variety of blackberry dishes and the public gets to choose a winner. There’s also a panel of judges who have the task of tasting every entry next Thursday.

Winning blackberry bakeoff recipes from previous years have even been combined into a cookbook with proceeds to LEPS.

“August is a fabulous time to visit the Langley Demonstration Garden at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum,” said Jordan. “Come see what is growing and blooming and watch the happy pollinators at work. Visitors can also check out our composting systems and find shade under the gazebo as a break from the heat of summer.”

What’s so wrong with blackberries?

The blackberry plants that cause so much strife for gardeners and take over properties with ease are not native to this part of the world.

These Himalayan blackberries are considered an invasive species. They spread quickly. Root and plant fragments can grow into new plants. Birds and mammals spread the seeds.

They create large, dense, impenetrable thickets that limit wildlife movement, and take over stream channels and banks, according to LEPS.

The plants crowd out native species and because they have shallow root systems, contribute to flooding and erosion by not stabilizing the ground.

Mowing can help remove them but it also helps spread small pieces. If the roots are not removed by hand, the area must be mowed several times each year over several years to finally defeat the plant.

Grazing by goats has also proven effective, but not practical for many property owners. Herbicides can help but also impact non-targeted plants, and can impact waterways, wildlife, and people.

Experts recommend planting the native blackberry species (rubus ursinus) and not the Himalayan (rubus armeniacus).

PHOTO: Sampling sweet and savoury blackberry dishes is a highlight of the annual event which is Thursday, Aug. 18 this year. (Langley Advance files)

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