Your Fruit Connection
If you would like to be added to our email list please contact us . Typically the newsletter will be short and come out weekly during the harvest season [June to August] to let you what is happening. It also comes out once or twice in off season.
Pre-picked availability is done for the season. We are still open though, and on the honor system.
We have passed the peak of brown turkey figs but there are still lots of figs with Celeste and LA Purple just coming in and many brown turkey yet to ripen. The blueberries are scattered but still out there with spots that are better than others. And there are still a few Jacques grapes. Walker, Miguel and Merl are around the farm and if you need them ring the farm bell. They are trying to get the blackberries pruned , weeds under control and other projects. Sit down and wait a moment and they will come a running.
There are some muscadine grapes- mainly Supreme, a big sweet black one- and we will let you know when they are ready. Next year there should be a lot more. There should also be a lot more blackberries next year... and we hope to plant more late maturing ones this winter along with the table grapes.
We have had a great season, a little shorter than last two years but great overall. We think that in addition to the drought that we had less flowers on the bushes this year due to a fungus, "leaf rust', defoliating the bushes last fall while flower buds were being set. The good news is that the foliage looks good this year and we should have big crop next year!
We will announce plans for the picking contest awards ceremony soon- and the farm will be sponsoring a charity dinner for Carolina Farm Stewards- an organization supporting sustainable agriculture. More details to come!
Thanks to all of you who came and picked with us this year!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch
Picking time per gallon continues to climb. This week will be the last of the pre-picked blueberries. We will probably start the honor system sometime next week.
Figs are loaded! There still a few of the Jacques grapes. This tart seeded grape is great for cooking. Mrs. Dinger brought us some simply marvelous jam made with Jacques and blueberries. Someone else brought us some marvelous blueberry pound cake. Thank you all!
The farm will be open into September. I will let you know on the muscadines.
Happy Berry Newsletter August 7, 2006
Still lots of blueberries ... and man are they sweet! but picking time per gallon is increasing. Because the picking time is increasing, it is getting harder to keep pre-picked berries on the shelf. We will try to keep pre-picked berries going for another week to 10 days. When you are in the field looking for good berries- they are there- just go in and under the bush canopy and you'll find some really big plump juicy ones. There will be some picking into early September.
Figs are approaching peak production in the brown turkey, and they are sweet and juicy! They should continue for about 3 weeks. The Celeste will start ripening in about a week so we should be at peak for a while. If you not tried a southern sugar fig ask us. There are some fabulous fig recipes on our web site.
We still have some Jacques grapes. This tart, slightly sweet grape just bursts with flavor. IT is great for cooking and juice/wine. The muscadine grapes will be a while yet. The elderberries continue to ripen along but the volume seems minimal to us since we are struggling to keep up with orders. But if you have put an order in we will get you and give you a call when ready. The volume should pick up in the years to come. Thanks to all of you who submitted recipes - we will get them posted to the website soon.
Thank you for your patronage! We will announce grand prize picking contest
winners and plans soon.
The Happy Berry Newsletter July 30, 2006
Thanks to all of you the blueberries are pouring out of the field during peak-of-season BUT do not delay for too long or you will miss it. Good to excellent picking is forecasted for the next 2 Weeks. Then picking time per gallon will start to increase with some blueberries into early September. The blanc du Bla grapes are about gone . We will start the concords probably in a week or so. Same with the Jacques---in grapes think "hang time." The longer they hang the sweeter they get.
Figs are in! We have picked a few gallons. Our practice at The Happy Berry is we will not pick figs till 11AM. We do pick everyday. A fig is ready as soon the stem bends, even a little. A fig is climateric which means it will continue to ripen off the plant, even in the refrigerator. Elderberries are in. The drought has been hard on our new elderberries - they are the only ones that are not irrigated.
We dibbled [a very heavy spade like hand tool used to plant Pine Trees] in Russell Hybrid Bermuda grass in the new area to be planted to table grapes. Pray for rain. We started right after the rain last Monday but it has been dry since. The muscadine grapes are still weeks a way and our supply will be limited this year.
Week Three Picking Contest Results
Pounds per event
See you in the fields!
Blueberry picking is great! The quality is fantastic! And they are everywhere! TifBlue is the BIG producer right now. Powder Blue and Centurion varieties are good to excellent. We even still have some of the Climax and Delite varieties available.
Be sure to go to the middle of the rows! When we send you to row numbers in the field, most folks tend to stop at the first few bushes at the end of the rows. The berries are LOADED in the middle of the rows- if folks will walk the extra distance you will find the gold mine of berries. And take a stool from the porch so you can park and sit- there are SO many berries INSIDE the bushes, that people just don't get to because they don't see past the outer branches. And those inside berries are usually super sweet because they take longer to ripen.
Figs are just starting. We have just a few but more will come on strong by the end of the week. Grapes: The Blanc du Bla, a white seeded grape, is ready but we have just a little. The Concords have started veraison so it won't be long till they are ready. The Jacques are showing the first hint that veraison is coming. (Veraison - that is where the grapes start to turn color. Usually 2-3 weeks from veraison is when the grapes are ripe.)
Elderberries are in! Get them now! Do you have a favorite elderberry recipe you are willing to share? We would love to post it to our website.
Blackberries continue a trickle along with very poor picking. But the truly dedicated are still finding some out there.
The blueberry Picking Contest Winners ---Week 2
George and Jan Lee took First Place in the pounds per hour category with 5.92 lbs per hour. In second place was Nan Hubbard with 5.79 lbs per hour and in third place was Dennis and Christine Dinger with 5 .735 lbs per hour.
Dennis and Christine took first place in the pounds per event with 45.5 lbs. In second and third place with 2 different attempts on two different days were David and Teresa Conley with 36.5 lbs and 25.5 lbs respectively.
We thank the contestants for participating. Winning contestants can pick up their prizes at the farm at their convenience.
We are in week 3. Give it a try! The above records are beatable.
See you in the fields!
Blueberry Picking is FANTASTIC!
Blueberries are Oh So Sweet
Blueberry picking is fantastic! Thank you all for helping with the harvest. It is going well. We are at peak-of-season for blueberries.
Blackberries continue to trickle along with picking at very poor. We have made progress getting the old flora canes [the ones that had berries on them] pruned out but we have a long way to go.
Elderberries are ripening. It is time to put your order in or get out there and get them picked.
Figs are still not ready but it won't be long. Grapes are not ready yet either. We will keep an eye on them.
Week 1- Berry picking contest winners ARE!
In second place was another double winner. the Clark family at 4. 13 pounds per hour and 27.5 pounds per event. The Clark's will get 15 pounds free and a T shirt.
In third place were the Beatriz Family at 3.91 pounds per hour and Vicki Porter with 23.5 pounds per event. They will get a hat and 6 pounds free respectively.
The grand prizes at the end of the 3 weeks will be really nice. Check out our prize sponsors for more information. We hope you will enjoy your visits and their products!
IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO JOIN THE CONTEST and it is easy to participate! Just check with Jim, Joy, Merlin or one of our family, Ann, Walker or Zoe before you start picking. For more details Click HERE
Remember - the bushes are LOADED with blueberries. Come join us in the field and bring your family and friends!
Thank you from The Happy Berry Bunch!
Blueberry Peak of Season is Begun!
The berries are dripping from the bushes. They are bending over with the load. They need your help to get the load off and start setting flower buds for next year! There are still Climax and Premier berries left. In the Climax it is muffin berry season. These are the smaller, meatier berries that are so sweet and work great in muffins. A big fat berry is almost too juicy for a muffin. The Tifblue, Powderblue, Brightwell and Centurions are in. There are some Delights… it’s a big berry but is not as sweet but is good for pies and cobblers. We should be at peak till early August.
The BLUEBERRY PICKING CONTEST is ON! – This year is our 2nd annual picking contest, and with such a bountiful crop there is great picking for all competitors. We have great prizes from almost a dozen sponsors and there are 9 winners each week, with grand prize winners at the end!
Blackberries are near gone with the picking listed as poor. We will start pruning the floracanes of early maturing varieties this week.
We picked a few Elderberries the other day. York and Nova. Our wild selections should be in soon. They are showing a little color.
The figs have a nice crop on them. Help us keep an eye on them. Typically they get ripe the first of August. Remember that when the stem starts to bend they are ready. They are climacteric. That means they will continue to ripen off the tree, even in the refrigerator. You cannot stop them from ripening… short of freezing them. That is the reason you rarely see fresh southern figs in the grocery store.
The Jacques grapes [forecasted harvest mid August] have a heavy load on the vines but we have only one row at the moment. We have just a few Concords and have lost one vine to Pierce’s disease but the grapes looked good. We waited as long we could to allow for natural predation, possibly too long, but had to kill the Jap beetles in the grapes. There will be a few desert muscadines this year starting late August.
The raspberries are doing very poorly and after 10 years of trying will probably get out of raspberries and plant late season blackberries.
We are getting the lime spread where we will plant seedless table grapes. We are very anxious to get grass established to prevent erosion around our new parking area.
Come and Help Us Get the Berries out of the Field!
Bring your family and friends for a Berry Field Picnic!
We are OPEN 4th of July-
Bring Family and Friends and Have A Berry Field Picnic!
Blueberries are doing great! – We are open on the fourth of July.
The blueberries are doing great and we will be approaching peak of season in week to 10 days. We are planning on starting the blueberry-picking contest Monday. It will run for three weeks with winners each week. Come join in the fun. There will be great prizes!
Blackberries have slowed up and we rating the picking as fair to poor. Fair early in the morning… going too poor later in the day. We picked just a few elderberries this week from the York and Nova plants. The plants are small so there is not much volume. The volume will increase in the coming years as we have planted a bunch more of these two varieties. We should a good supply of wild elderberries later this month.
Grapes -The Jacques grape is doing great! We are even selling the leaves. We lost one Concord vine to Pierces disease. The Jap beetles are feasting on the Blanc Du Bla. The muscadines are growing and we will have few desert Muscadines this year with the volume picking up significantly next year.
The raspberries are doing very poor! Viruses, root rot and just plain warm weather in the winter have done them in. We have taken some of them out and replanted with Chester blackberry and plan to add Navaho blackberry both of which will lengthen our blackberry season.
We got 6.2 inches of rain last Sunday and Monday morning. Welcome relief from the drought. Thank you for your prayers! It was a little too much at one time… but we are not complaining! We are planning on planting hybrid Russell Bermuda as the grass cover crop where the seedless table grapes and concords will go. We have been busy preparing the land. Soil tests showed it is very low in phosphorous and calcium.
Please come and joins us in the fields! Bring your family and friends for a Berry Field Picnic!
Bring Family and Friends and Have A Berry Field Picnic!
We are so sorry for the late mailing this year, but we have been busy battling the drought (updating our irrigation system), re-doing our parking (you gotta see our new set-up) and just staying really busy taking care of support systems here on the farm!
Blackberry season is going strong and Blueberries are coming on fast. Climax and Premier are ripe now. Tifblue, Powderblue, Centurion and Delight will follow soon. It looks like it will be another bumper crop this year, but we desperately need the rain! So, please, send rain thoughts our way.
Grapes and Figs should be ready for harvest late July. Grape varieties include Bronze and black dessert-type muscadines and a few Jacques wine/jelly grapes. Fig varieties are same as last year – Lots of Brown Turkey and plenty of Celeste variety.
Elderberries - forecast is Aug 1. We added more Elderberries because of their popularity and their nutriceutical value. We selected Nova and York varieties as result of variety trials and customer input and planted them as a riparian buffer along the stream.
Raspberries have done poorly again this year. So far we don’t anticipate much of a crop, if any. The jury is still out on whether we should continue to dedicate land and time to raspberries after two seasons of little harvest.
New this year! – Pasteur-fed, free range eggs available for $3/dozen, plus carton deposit.
As always the grass will be mowed, we will have portable toilets, picnic tables, fresh cool water and pre picked berries. Pre picked blackberries and blueberries will be $16 per gallon or $4.00/quart. You-pick black and blue berries are $1.50 per pound. Elderberries, figs and grapes will be $1.25 /pound you-pick or $12.00 gallon we pick. Please call ahead for pre picked berries or order them on our website
Please come and joins us in the fields! Bring your family and friends for a Berry Field Picnic!
But Please Pray for Rain At The Happy Berry
We are having a serious drought at The Happy Berry. Between picking for pre-picked orders and keeping the irrigation going we have not got our normal surface mail card out. So spread the word for us that we are picking both black and blue berries. The blackberries are doing great and the picking is excellent. The irrigation system is working well. The blueberry picking is fair to good… it still requires a little skill to get the plump ones. Blueberry picking improves everyday. The irrigation system on the blue berries is old and requires constant maintenance…and that is what is keeping us very busy. There have been several good showers that have missed us, some by less than 200 yards!
For those of you that can not make it to the farm we (Zoe) will be at the Greenville Curb Market on Court street on Saturday Mornings and the Pickens Flea Market on Wednesday Mornings on produce row in booth 314. Ann will be at “Pendleton Market on the Green” on Thursday afternoons 4 till… You can also get our fruit at Fischer’s Taylor’s Market in Greer and the English Roadside Market on Route 25 not far Southeast of Route 11.
Looks like we will have a nice crop of Jacques in mid August. It is a small dark blue seeded grape that is great for jams, jellies, pies and cobbler, and wine. There will be a few concord, and Blanc Du bla in late July and early August. Late August there will be some desert Muscadines. Elderberries will be late July and figs will be start August 1.
Happy Father's Day to all you Dad's out there!
Please come join us on the farm!
You never stop learning when you farm. This spring there was only one very early frost. Most of the very early flowers are fruiting. That means there are ripe berries in all varieties but the Chester. Of course there are oodles in the Choctaw, Prime Jim and Prime Jan, the early varieties. There are also beautiful "shiners" in the Kiowa and Chickasaw and even a few in the Georgia Gem.
We are moving the blueberry forecast up to June 17. We are starting to see some blue in the Premier and Climax.
Elderberries will be late July and Figs August 1. Muscadines will be in Mid to late August. We will have a few peaches along, grown by Carol Fischer and some summer crook neck squash grown by Billy Ledford.
See you in the berry field!
- But Think RAIN!
Well, it has been a great spring for setting a crop. We only had one light frost. We are looking at a full crop of blueberries and blackberries. The elderberries, figs and grapes look good too.
It has been very dry! We barely had 3 inches in April and less than a 1/4 of an inch so far in May. It seems the storms keep going around us. We have had lots of drying winds. Pray for rain! We have been irrigating the baby blackberry plants trying to nurse them along. They look good at this point.
It has been cool for over a week now. The cool weather means that heat unit accumulation has been slowed and is behind where we would normally be. The good news is that if it turns warm we can catch up rather quickly. In the past we have started blackberries as early May 25 but this year we are forecasting June 1, 2006 for blackberries to begin, similar to 2005.
Blueberries we are forecasting harvest to begin June 20, 2006 for similar reasons although in the past we have been as early as June 15. The bushes are looking really healthy despite the drought. Rabitteye blueberries, most varieties, have a deep root system but eventually drought can catch up with them. Although the weatherman has been forecasting rain it just has not materialized. A good soaking 3 to 4 inch rain would be just what the doctor ordered.
It is peak of strawberry season right now! Although we don’t have strawberries several local growers do. We listed those in our last newsletter, and have added Rose Hill Plantation since then [Click Here for Strawberry Growers.] The good news is that strawberry season will run late this year... with this cool weather and it takes 28 to 30 days from bloom to harvest you should be able to get strawberries till June 15 or possibly later. Be sure to call first before making the drive!
We are making progress on building our additional parking but a fire in the Catepillar engine has slowed things up [nobody keeps parts in stock any more]. We hope it is done in time. Table grapes will go above the new parking lot --- it is really quite a view of the mountains. You will have to see to appreciate it.
The raspberries are struggling with virus diseases. There will not be many.
See you in the berry fields…
But Several Friends Do...
We have gotten a couple of calls and a couple of emails inquiring about when strawberries will be ready. So we checked around. The results are below.
Mr. T’s Strawberries. The Tilsons said they will start about April 1 or so. They started frost protecting about March 1 and it takes about 28 to 35 days from flower to ripe fruit depending on temperature. They can be reached at 864 638 8093 or by email at MRTSStrawberries@yahoo.com. For those of you who have been there before: Tilson's farm has MOVED. The field is now located on route 11, just 1 1/2 miles north of the traffic light in West Union. Signs will be posted when the berries are ready.
Hunter Farm. Eric Hunter is located between Easley and Dacusville or off of 183 between Pickens and Greenville. If you are headed east on Route 183, once you past the four-way stop at Route 135 you can turn right on Jameson Rd. If you are coming out of Easley on 135, about 1 mile or so look for signs on the right that will take you to Jameson road. The Hunters are estimating they will start strawberries about April 15, 2006 and for sure by the 20 th. Call 859 2978 to be sure. Once the season starts they will take orders. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org. They have vegetables and flowers also.
Hardy Berry Farm. Kevin Hardy says they are estimating the 12th to 15th of April for strawberries. They are located near Anderson. Go west on Dobbins Bridge Rd off of by-pass Route 28 [If you are headed east, it is after you pass Highway 24]. Go 3.5 miles and turn left on to Strawberry Road. The Hardy’s number is 224 5441 if you wish to leave an order [don't forget the details] or check on ripening. In addition to strawberries, they will have other berries, they are adding Peaches and they have built a store in which they are selling whole wheat you can grind yourself. Their email is email@example.com.
Beechwood farm. The Ledford’s are anticipating opening for strawberries about April 25. They are located near Marietta SC, 29661. The street address is 102 Beechwood Rd. if you want to Mapquest(TM) it. Their phone is 864 836 6075. They do not have a web site or an email that they check. They will have vegetables in season.
The Happy Cow Creamery, Tom Tratham,(which has non-homogenized milk that is pasteurized at 145 degrees instead of 165 degrees used in flash pasteurization) has strawberries too. He is estimating April 30 or the first of May. Happy Cow Creamery is located off of Route 25 about 8 miles south of the toll road on the south side of Greenville. Watch for his sign on the left about 1.5 miles south of Ware Place. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org and phone is 243 4801.
Late Winter 2006 Update
While this may sound early to you, it is just about on time. The flower buds, once they have satisfied their cold requirement [200 to 800 hours, depending on variety, below 45 degrees Fahrenheit], start to swell in response to heat unit accumulation. We are expecting bloom to start about mid march and continue into late April. We will keep you posted on progress and if any frost impacts the berries.
We have been pruning steadily. There are about and finished up yesterday! We built a chicken house at Zoe’s place and she now has 51 chickens. They are young but should come into good production just as the season starts. They are free-range, pastured chickens and they are “happy as a lark.”
In the blackberry patch: After planting more Choctaw and Prime Jim and Jan last winter, we took out the old Choctaw blackberries last fall. We prepared the land, installed new V trellis and have replanted with more Chickasaw and Kiowa Blackberries.
The Heritage red raspberries were in such bad shape we took them out and have replanted with Chester blackberry using the same V trellis. We transplanted the black raspberries where we had them mixed in with the Heritage. The Josephine, Caroline, and Jaclyn red raspberries will be managed for a primocane crop only this year. We hope to reduce disease this way and thereby lessening the need for plant pharmaceuticals.
We have filled in the sinkholes caused by the underground stream and have ordered over 200 Nova and York elderberry plants, the ones with the big berries, which should be in any day. They will be planted along the stream as a riparian buffer to protect the stream and keep it cool for the guys that live in the stream.
The big project this spring will be expanding the parking lot, preparing the site for the barn and for our new project, table grapes. We have added “10 Reasons to Buy Local” to our web site, www.theHappyBerry.com, and decided to host a benefit dinner this September for Carolina Farm Stewardship Association whose mission is to rebuild the local “food shed.”
Enjoy the winter/spring transition, and we will see you on the farm!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch