Only 30 minutes after Jo’s BlueBerry Farm in Mount Pleasant opened for picking June 30, heavy rain fell.As one family of pickers scrambled for their car to retrieve their umbrellas, Concord residents Marilyn Davis and Bob Wallace continued to pick ripe berries.“I have been watching her website (for the opening) for three weeks,” Davis said, shouting to be heard over the heavy rain pelting her. “I saw she was open and began calling for my appointment this morning. “I almost have my gallon, so I’m not stopping,” she said, explaining she would rather pick berries in the cool rain than in the sun, which can be blazingly hot this time of year.The berries at Jo’s are organically grown, so Davis didn’t hesitate to throw a couple in her mouth to taste. “Delicious!” she said as she and Wallace finished filling their one-gallon buckets with their clothes soaking wet.JoAnn Hahn had planned to start the half-acre blueberry patch with her late husband, Rusty, when they moved onto his Cabarrus County family farm in 2000. Rusty died in 2001, however, putting the blueberry farm on hold.After marrying Jerry Lanier in 2006, Hahn started planting the bushes for her berry patch. Her first 100 bare-root blueberry bushes ended up dying because she didn’t understand how to maintain the bushes’ bases and roots. The bushes don’t send roots very deep into hard soil, she said, and the farmer must constantly add mulch and tie up branches, because the bushes grow by spreading out.The second planting included 350 rabbiteye blueberry plants. Now they have more than 600 bushes ready for picking. She began selling to the public and allowing people to pick their own berries in 2010. Now pickers can harvest three days a week, by appointment only.Hahn said she started the by appointment rule to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience. When she allowed people to just drop in, she found that certain times would be crowded and people seemed to be competing to get the ripe berries. For that reason, and the fact that she has limited parking, she tries to keep her appointments to four vehicles or families at a time.For Hahn, the most enjoyable part is watching the children.“I feel very blessed (that) I get to see the children enjoying our farm,” she said. “I am amazed by how many people return and bring their friends with them.” At the chicken coop, children can feed the chickens while her husband answers any chicken-related questions. The blueberry season usually starts the first of June, but the cool spring weather this year delayed opening day until June 28. The season usually lasts four to six weeks, so there should still be berries to pick during the first week of August. Blueberries don’t last long once you pick them. Hahn suggested bringing a cooler if you will be transporting them a long distance; the berries need to be kept cool, and used or frozen by the second day after picking them.If you plan to freeze them, she said, don’t wash them first. They will freeze best if laid out on a cookie sheet and frozen individually; once frozen, they can be bagged together. If you freeze the berries while they are wet, they will cling together and become mushy when thawed. The individually frozen ones will stay separate. That way you can scoop out the number of berries you need, rinse them and use them.Jo’s BlueBerry Farm is family-oriented. Concord resident Kris Kalenian went to the farm last year looking for organic pick-your-own farms. This year she brought her extended family, and the seven of them gathered three gallons of berries once the rain had subsided.Four-year-old Mary Louise Preslar had the right idea: She got her dad, Travis Preslar, to carry her on his shoulders so that she could reach the higher berries. Her mom, Meghan Preslar, and 6-year-old brother, Phillip, worked the lower parts of the bushes.
Monday, Jul. 08, 2013
Wet opening weekend for blueberry season at Mount Pleasant farm
Pick blueberries At Jo’s BlueBerry Farm, picking your own blueberries costs is $16 per gallon (bucket provided). The farm is open 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays. The farm will close if there is lightning or thunder in the area. Those who hope to pick blueberries must have an appointment. Call 704-408-6995 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make one. For directions or more information about Jo’s BlueBerry Farm, visit www.northcarolinablueberriesjo.com/index.php.
Marty Price is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at email@example.com.
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