Picking some memories

Picking some 
memories

Area farmers offer tips for u-pick outings

Story by Sarah Allen

Photos courtesy of Berryhill Farm, Blooms & Berries Farm Market, B&D Berry Farm, Karnes Orchard

Story by Sarah Allen

Photos courtesy of Berryhill Farm, Blooms & Berries Farm Market, B&D Berry Farm, Karnes Orchard

Summertime is a season for making memories and having fun — and one way to do just that is by visiting a u-pick farm.

At these farms, visitors will find more than delicious fruit — they will also find experiences that will forever plant themselves in their memories.

“We’ve found that u-pick is way different than it was 20 years ago,” said Jeff Probst, who co-owns Blooms & Berries Farm Market with his mother, Cathy.

In the past, Probst said, u-picking was about volume. “Now it’s not so much about filling a freezer … but about having a fun weekend,” he said.

Many visitors are “craving that farm experience,” he said. It’s an outing that comes with a “delicious reward” and that also supports the local economy.

At Blooms & Berries, visitors can pick blueberries and strawberries. Probst added that, this year, they are also trying out u-pick green beans and sweet corn.

Blooms & Berries also has snacks in their bakery and a picnic area, as well as a farm market and garden center.

Probst also said that Blooms & Berries also hosts Fall on the Farm each year, which includes a pumpkin patch, hay rides and a corn maze.

“We try to make it so you can spend a good amount of time and enjoy a day in the country,” Probst said.

That idea was echoed by Zelda Karnes, who co-owns Karnes Orchard with her husband Steve.

After picking, she said, many people like to climb the orchard’s hill and enjoy the “beautiful view.”

Karnes Orchard offers tart cherries and apples for u-pick, and sometimes peaches, depending on the amount available.

Visitors to the orchard are given baskets for collecting their fruit, Karnes said. She added that the orchard’s rows are marked with signs, signifying the varieties and what is available for u-picking at that time.

She added that the trees are grown on trellises, which means that there is fruit as low as a person’s ankles or as high up as they can reach.

“It’s accessible for two-year olds to 100-year olds,” Karnes said. That also means that areas of the orchard are wheelchair-accessible.

If someone is new to u-picking, she added, the Karneses will take them out into the orchard and show them around. She encourages people to ask questions.

After all, the most important part of any u-pick outing is to have fun. B&D Berry Farm owner and operator Richard Burke described u-picking, saying, “The thing I like about this is the experience for the younger generation,” he said.

As an example, he said that many people under age 30 don’t have memories of picking blackberries at their grandparents’ farm.

“We’ve had so many positive remarks from people because they’ve never done it before,” Burke added.

B&D Berry Farm has “almost 1,100 (blackberry) plants” on its two acres, Burke said, adding that the farm provides everything visitors may need.

“You don’t need gloves, you don’t need boots,” he said. He also said that the farm has wagons and folding chairs available, and that they are pet-friendly. B&D Berry Farm also sells jams, jellies and honey.

Burke encourages visitors to taste the berries while they’re picking. “A lot of (visitors) are repeat customers,” he said. “They love it. … It’s a fun experience.”

And while u-picking is definitely about fun, it’s also about connection. According to Berryhill Farm owner Chris Sutton, “You can actually talk to the people who grow your food.”

He added that families often pack lunches, eating between pickings. “They make an experience out of it,” he said.

Located in Xenia, Berryhill Farm is in its 21st year of business. Sutton said his parents started it with his siblings and that he’s “grown up building this farm.”

The 20-acre farm offers blueberries, blackberries and red raspberries.

Salt Magazine