The Happy Berry

Newsletter Archives

2013 Newsletters


Published October 29, 2013

Still LOADED with Muscadines
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) threatens small farmers.
Willow with Catkins Season Just 2 Months Away

Happy Berry Escapes Saturday (10-26-13) Freeze
The Happy Berry is STILL loaded with big, sweet muscadines - great for eating and for making jellies, jams and wine, to name only a few of the great ways to enjoy muscadines.

On Sunday Oct 27 Walker Miller reported “the only damage was a little injury to tropical plants like Impatiens and Bee Balm. The muscadines are fine.” He explained that there was no wind that night and an inversion set up over Lake Keowee. The air over the lake was warmed by the lake and took up moisture from the lake. As cold air slid off the mountains on to the lake surface starting late in the evening it pushed the warmer air up. As it rose it started to cool and the moisture condensed and formed a heavy fog releasing the heat of condensation. At 6 AM that morning when we were leaving for the Greenville TD/Cliffs Market on Main Street, the farm was totally enveloped in a dense fog. There was no frost! Yet we saw lots of frost and frozen windshields as soon as we were a quarter mile from the farm.

“The bottom line” said Walker “is the muscadines were not hurt and we are still loaded with big, sweet fruit; and we do not see any cold weather forecast for at least a week.” PLEASE come help harvest this bountiful crop of muscadines. If you are not sure what to do with them, check out our recipes online! Or just ask us!

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) threatens small farmers.
This is an issue of great concern to us as small farmers and we need your help to raise a hue and cry.

"For years, food contaminated with human pathogens has been sickening thousands and killing some consumers. It seems like hardly a day goes by that we do not hear about a food recall” says Walker Miller, a local farmer and owner of The Happy Berry. These incidences include cut/sliced and bagged green, sprouts, eggs, melons, frozen berries and processed meats to name a few.

As a result, the FSMA has charged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop and enforce new food safety regulations. They have drafted 1500 pages of rules that are now open for comment, but only until November 15. The Cornucopia Institute says “The proposed rules are grossly misdirected and a potential disaster for family scale farms and their loyal customers”… While “the root causation …of the contamination…remains unaddressed…as the FDA’s oversight does not extend to mega farms and processors…” The reason the mega farms and processors are not to be subject to these new regulations would appear to be a result of lobbying by industrial agriculture.

Walker Miller agrees. “The proposed rules take a gun and badge approach, with a ‘gotcha’ attitude instead of an educational and warning approach with a way to get back “on track” says Miller. The FSMA would be better served to follow the model used by the SC Department of Agriculture and Clemson University Public Service Activities. They have used the proactive education and warning approach with great success. Even the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has asked for a total rewrite of the FSMA propsed rules.

Miller says “Only a fool would not be concerned about food safety!” But in his opinion the proposed new rules will not prevent the contaminations as hoped, but merely work to strangle and quash the growth of local and regional healthy food systems.

If you are concerned that the proposed FSMA rules will shut down the growth of local and regional healthy food systems, we implore you to please write your concerns to: FDA about Preventive Control Rule: FDA-2011-N-0920 and produce standards Rule: FDA-2011-N-0921 at: Division of Dockets Management, FDA, 5630 Fishers lane, Rm 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. For More Information and talking points, go to

If you are not concerned, we think you should be! Please call Walker if you have any questions or if you have a group that would be interested in hearing a presentation on the topic.

Willow with Catkins Season Just 2 Months Away
“It is an ill wind that does not blow some good.” All that rain we had this summer was great for the willows. They are loaded with big red buds which will burst into beautiful catkins in January to April. Ann says “It is amazing! They are gorgeous. The red curlys and the red and yellow stick dogwoods are already starting to turn.” Ann is also collecting hand-made vases.

Mr. Willow, aka Lou, has been collecting cotton so we can make our traditional bouquets of “North Meets the South.” He will be at the farm Saturday November 2, in the afternoon, in case you want to come by and see him. Sorry no willows for sale yet. We will be planning the upcoming season of home shows and garden club events. If you need a program for your club or event give us a call so we can get you on the itinerary. We would love to provide a program.

We are ever so grateful for your continued support!
The Happy Berry Bunch

September 28

Published September 28, 2013

PEAK OF SEASON for Muscadines
NEW HOURS begin Tuesday Oct 1

Remember — We are open Rain or Shine!

PEAK of SEASON in the Muscadines!
The Bullis (black muscadines) are ripe and the supreme variety are gigantic this year and oh so sweet. The same is true with the Cowart. The Ison are only about an inch but they are very sweet too. The scuppernongs (bronze muscadines) are supper sweet. Remember to pick the scuppernongs (bronze) when they are a little softer than the black—so don't let the black fool you. The time honored way to hone your fingers so they can sense the ripe ones is to squeeze and taste. If you think you are over doing the tasting, you can always contribute to the Sin Bucket. If you don't know about the Sin Bucket, look for the sign on your way to the porch (near the bell).

Haven't tried the muscadines? You should! These are not the the tough skinned fruit of yester years! You can (and should) eat the skin! And these are dessert variety muscadines - OH SO SWEET! And LOADED with nutriceuticals - these are GOOD and GOOD FOR YOU!

Starting October 1, Tuesday, we will start our new fall hours. 9am - 5pm Monday through Friday. 9am - 6pm Saturday Noon- 6pm Sunday

Figs have slowed to just a trickle. Same with the blackberries. Perhaps a quart per day.

Seedless table grapes are gone. Blueberries are gone.

Anyone interested in volunteering for a few hours let us know. The task will be to watch the front and perhaps grade a few muscadines. Bring a book as it will probably be slow. Walker and Joaquin will be trying to get the farm laid-by. Laid-by is an old agricultural term that refers to removal of weeds just before or as the canopy closes and shade suppress the weeds for the rest of year. It is now sometimes used to refer to fall clean up just before cool temperatures suppress vegetative growth.

Next on the agenda will be the decorative woody floral willows. We are forecasting starting right after the first of the year. The season will run from then until Easter. Dyngus Day is coming!

Thanks to everyone for your support this year. The rain was hard on the harvest, but we are ever so grateful for your continued support!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

September 7

Published September 7, 2013

Muscadines are ripening
Fig picking for 10-20 more days
Dessert Grapes winding up
Remember - We are open Rain or Shine!

Muscadines are ripening -
We are picking a few gallons of muscadines (bullises) and scuppernongs a day now and by the weekend of September 7 the picking should improve to fair. Next week good and. next weekend excellent. We are growing the dessert quality varieties and they are sweet, aromatic and in delightful chewy skin that is loaded with nutriceuticals. (That means they are good for you :>) We grow them organically, .i.e. use pheromones for grape root borer control and clover for nitrogen and circulating phosphorous and potassium. Muscadines are truly an unsung hero of the fruit harvest- they are loaded with nutriceuticals (plant based chemicals that promote health) and the taste of these dessert varieties are nothing like the old tough-skinned varieties. Now you can eat the skins!

Figs -
Celeste is now ripening along with the Brown Turkey, Louisiana Purple and Honey fig. Celeste tastes like a brown turkey except it is bigger and fatter. Fig picking is good but you have to watch the weather. They ripen overnight. If it is dry and warm the picking is great. If there is a shower the ripe figs burst! Best picking is in the morning. We try to pick figs every day so as to keep them from being over ripe figs that have bees and wasps in them. We do not pick figs till after lunch, about 12:30 and before afternoon thunderstorms. So if you want to get ahead of us, pick in the cool of the morning. I think fig picking will go for another 10 to 20 days depending on the weather.

Seedless grapes -
Saturn grapes are coming to an end but will have them in the cooler and at the markets. There will still be some in the field to pick. Mental Note for next year: Seedless grape season goes fast. Each variety lasts for about 7 to 10 days. It starts with Jupiter in late July, then Venus in early August, then Mars in mid August and finally Saturn in late August and early September. I guess the lesson to be learned is if you are going to eat seasonally and preserve your favorites for later, you must act quickly once each variety begins. Each variety only lasts about 7 to 10 days in the field. **Harvested and put in the refrigerator they will last fresh for several weeks to a month.**

Blueberries -
Are still in the field but picking is very difficult. At least 2 hours for one person to pick a gallon. We do not have any pre picked blueberries. Blueberry leaf rust is defoliating susceptible varieties. We are trying to slow the epidemic down so we get a good crop of flowers next year. Blueberry flowers are formed during the 12 hour days of late summer and early fall. No flowers, no fruit.

Blackberries -
We continue to get a quart or 2 a day from the Black Magic. Next year Prime Ark will be in its second leaf and it will add to the harvest and the Black Magic will be in its third leaf. We think it will have lots more fruit. We are shooting for having blackberries from June 1 to frost. We are within 2 rows of finishing blackberry pruning. There is a good crop of primocanes and there is still growing time for the topped canes to put on more strong laterals . so I am betting next year will be a supper blackberry year.

"You are what you eat"
Nourish your body with the right fuel... it will perform better. Eat junk food...your health will suffer.

Recent research using animals with a small genome ( their genetic make up is smaller) found that diets made a dramatic difference in gene expression. What does that mean?

Interpretation..."a small amount of healthy food (fruits and veggies) in an otherwise unhealthy diet could elicit a beneficial change in gene expression"- meaning your genes will do more good things for you.

Come see us! the purveyors of healthy food
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

August 15

Published September 15, 2013

Jupiter Grapes - "Yard" Sale (Only $1.50 per pound!)
Peak Season for Grapes
Figs Are Doing It!
Remember - We are open Rain or Shine!

Jupiter Grapes- "Yard" Sale (ONLY $1.50 per Pound!) Sunday August 18, 2013 ONLY
We have lots of Jupiter grapes in Zoe’s front yard so we are having a "yard" sale.
ONE DAY ONLY- Only the Jupiter Grapes in Zoe's Front Yard- a special price of $1.50 per pound.
So bring your snippers* (important- you can not pick without snippers- see below),
bring a glove for your non dominant hand and
bring a basket.
The glove is to brush away the bees and hold the cluster while you snip it off the vine.

Snipping off is important to prevent Botryosphaeria decline, caused by fungi which invade the vine when clusters are torn off.

It looks like we may have planted too many Jupiter grapes so please come. They are so sweet and make wonderful juice, jams, jelly and they do not have seeds.

The yard sale will be from 12 noon to 8 PM Sunday the 18th.
We will have a tent set up in the yard with a scale. The address is 504 Gap Hill Road, right next to the farm at 510 Gap Hill Road... Just park in her driveway.

More Grapes
We will have lots of Mars, Saturn and a few Venus grapes for you-pick at the farm at the regular price of $2.25 a pound. It is peak of season in the grapes. Remember to bring your snippers as all of our table/dessert grapes require snippers for harvesting. Be sure to check out How to Pick Grapes.

The figs are doing it! There are oodles of figs! Fig time is now!

I think it will be at least a week before there are any sweet berries, maybe more. I will keep checking and let you know.

We hope to see you in the field!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

August 7

Published August 7, 2013

Peak fig picking forecasted to be August 10 to August 24- with lots for all!
Grapes are doing it!
Remember - We are open Rain or Shine!

The fig crescendo is about to happen.
They are oh so sweet! We started picking figs August 1 right on schedule. They start slow with only a few gallons each day. I am forecasting peak fig picking to be August 10 to August 24 with lots for all. This looks like our best fig season ever. Remember that a fig is climacteric. That means the fruit continues to ripen after it is picked, even in the refrigerator. That is the reason you can not buy good southern parenthocarpic (no seeds) figs in grocery stores. They can’t control them.

Picking Figs
If a fig is picked too green it will not ripen. So it is important to be able to recognize when it has reached the climacteric point. When the fig starts to bend between its stem and the bulbous part of the fruit is the key factor. Others markers are swelling, a change in color and little cracks. The order of occurrence is swelling, change in color, bending and little cracks. The change in color can be misleading so look for the bend!

Grapes are doing it!
Grapes are about the easiest thing to pick with regards to filling the bucket. You can pick 5 pounds in five minutes. The key is to find the really mature clusters so they are sweet and fragrant. The key is color…The darker the better. Venus is very dark blue almost black. Jupiter is red approaching blue. We are picking Jupiter and Venus as of August 5. So spend your time looking for the right cluster. Right behind them is Saturn and Mars. Saturn is red and the redder the better. Mars is another very dark blue grape. These are slip skin grapes and they are very different from the crunchy grapes you get at the store. Just ask one of us on the porch to give you sample.

Grapes store well in the refrigerator and can be frozen just like blueberries. My wife and daughters remove the stems and put them in good quality (thicker the better) plastic bags or containers. Then just pour them out on your cereal or in the blender for natural sweetness in that smoothie. They also put then on little skewers, about 10 berries per skewer, and serve them as a frozen hors d'oeuvre on a bed of ice.

There are still lots of blueberries out there but the picking time per gallon is now about an hour. Blueberries will continue for 2 or more weeks but as time goes by the picking time per gallon will continue to increase.

are slowing also but there are still some for another couple of weeks. We will have just a few of the Black Magic variety a late summer/fall primo-cane bearing variety. This is our first year for these.

Muscadines and Scuppernongs are coming.
We will advise.

Pest management -
I have been stressing a little about this issue recently. For each host there are about 50 pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes) of which about 8 or so are primary in our area; several different vertebrates (birds, deer, pigs, voles, squirrels and etc) and numerous insects, with recently, due to globalization, about 4 new invasive species not to mention the 10 or so others that have been around for a while. Our approach has been to learn the life cycle of each pest, determining what the weakest point in the life cycle is so we can apply the least and safest pest management tools. We seek to use organic tools/tactics wherever they are available. The wet weather has been very favorable for these pathogens and scouting (the mower is a great place to scout from…You can stop collect a sample and either use a hand magnifier or save for a microscope later) has revealed several we have not seen in years. I just wanted to assure you that we are working hard to provide you with the safest food possible.

We hope to see you in the field!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

July 28

Published July 28, 2013

Blueberries- NOW is the time to stock up!
Blackberries - Still Some
Grapes (& everything else) - Rain Delay - but coming soon

Blueberries now!
Now is the time to get your blueberries. We are picking Centurions, Powderblue and Tifblue. They are the last blueberry varieties of the season. While we will still have berries probably through August, the best picking will be now and for the next week or two.

Rain Delay
The cold weather this summer has just slowed everything down. I don’t know what the climatologist has figured but based on our crop phenology (development stages) everything has been delayed.

Still Some Blackberries Mostly Chester on the back steep hill- Please be very careful on that back hill…No flip flops! There are also still just a very few of the earlier varieties in the west field. We have started pruning the blackberries. If you have some in your yard now is the time to prune them…just the spent flora canes (the ones that bore fruit this year) and tipping the new primocanes.

Figs Are late, I am thinking perhaps August 5. I will keep checking and advise. Keep checking the home page for updates.

Grapes Are also late. The grapes are still in veraison. Venus will be first, hopefully August 1 or 2. We are having deer problems too. The deer are eating then every night as soon as they start into veraison. The herd appears small, 7 or 8 at this time but they eat all night long. We are trying an organic repellant applied to the ground.

I am now guessing that they will be late too. Late August?

Rain Rain, Go Away, Come Again Some Other Day. Many have asked and commented about all the rain…We are 23 inches above average! Yes, it has been difficult. We have continued to harvest everyday even in the rain. If we don’t the berries will split. The rain has been virtually every day … many times only a tenth to 1/2 of an inch or so during the night or early morning but it is enough to make things very wet. This means the berries are wet during harvest and wet during grading. If we wait till berries start to dry then berries and workers get very warm with field heat, lose quality and workers don’t want to pick. For pre-picked sales we grade all the berries to remove all the red, overripe and split berries. Then get them into the cooler to remove the field heat to slow maturation. We forecast our marketing needs. We pick just enough for on farm sales and local farm markets. We try to keep the stay in cooler to less than a day. Since we pick everyday you can request them right off the grading table but they still may be wet. We appreciate your support and patience.

Monday and Tuesday (29 & 30) are forecasted to be very low probability of rain!! We hope you will come take advantage of this nice change in weather!

We hope to see you in the field!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

July 20

Published July 20, 2013

Blueberries- Good to Verrry Good! Almost Great!
Blackberries - Fair in the morning
Grapes coming soon!

The sweep!
We are trying to operate a “picking sweep” of the farm. The idea is that if we pick the berries progressively in a sweep around the farm you will be at the spot (Row) where the picking is best! Please check in with folks on the porch as to where we are picking. We do make exceptions for those that are less mobile. The handicapped area is right around the porch (Rows 96 down to about 89) so a handicapped person does not have to go far. Thanks for your assistance!

Finally a little sunshine! (and remember we are open rain or shine) It is happening now… We believe that the best picking is now for the next three weeks or so. The blueberries are ripening quickly. We probably will not have a “peak season” the way we have had in years past. The rain-every-day pattern has spread the ripening process out over a longer season instead of everything coming on all at once.

Important Picking Tip! Don’t forget…stick your basket under the cluster and tickle the berries off for the best quality and speed. If you pick one at a time and the cluster quivers the ripe drop to the ground.

Blackberries We have switched to the Chester blackberries. We finally got them mowed and topped again to promote branching for next year’s crop. The Chester variety ripens very slowly so there are lots of red ones and you have to look for the black ones. A good picking tip is to look down in and under. The back hill where the Chester blackberries are growing is very steep and a dew can make the grass slippery. Please wear good shoes and be very careful. We will start pruning the early season blackberries now. The sooner they are pruned the better… for good strong primocanes for next years crop.

Seedless grapes are really starting to color up (veraison) I am thinking a week or so until they are ready to pick. There is a lot going on in the berry during veraison. Looks like Venus will be first instead of Jupiter. Each year it is a race.

Figs and Muscadines Figs are coming too, about August 1, as well as the muscadines in mid/late August. We will let you know.

PINE TREES? Several have asked … “What are you doing with the pine trees coming up through the bushes?!” We feel as farmers we have a responsibility to you, your children and grand children to fix more carbon dioxide than we use in growing the fruit. That would include the fossil fuel used for tractors etc and in the making of fertilizer, in making the plant pharmaceuticals and pheromones used to manage pests, the food the workers eat and the gas you used to come pick. We want to have a net positive foot print when it comes to carbon. Farmers in general are responsible for 30% of the global warming gases produced and global warming. When I look around the woods that surround the farm I see carbon dioxide being fixed with 70 feet -80 feet of vegetation. It is not an apple to apple comparison because we use winter legumes and grassed middles which fix carbon and nitrogen all winter long while the woods go dormant. But still our depth is only 7 to 8 feet. So to increase our depth of carbon dioxide fixation we are planting pines. They are Loblolly 3 supposedly resistant to rust disease. We are ordering Long leaf to add to the system. Since we are now in Zone 8 instead of 7 we are giving it a try. The plan is to plant them in east west rows and to limb them up north south as they grow. This will mean less impact from shade. The rows are spaced out at 75 to 100 feet initially. Benefits, in addition to the carbon they fix, will be to slow down violent summer thunderstorms, therefore less berry drop. The risk is that it will provide perching area for robin flocks which eat about 3 to 7 hundred pounds a day. We have sprayed with Avitrol (Avitrol is a food ingredient from grapes) and it, along with the reflective devices on white sticks, distress calls, the screech owl boxes and purple martins appears to be working for the moment.

Remember, we are open rain or shine! And rains often pass pretty quickly over us, and they certainly cool the air temperature for more comfortable picking conditions. Just remember to dress appropriately, including good shoes since any rain can make the grass a little slippery.

We cannot thank you enough for your support!
See you at the farm.
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

July 5

Published July 5, 2013

The rain and cool weather has slowed ripening
Blackberries - Good to Very Good
Blueberries- Fair to Good

The spring and summer of 2013 has been the wettest and coolest in our 34 years of experience at the Happy Berry. July 4 we overflowed a 5 inch rain gauge. The biggest impact has been the slowing of the ripening of the berries which has been agonizingly slow. The other impact has been the super nice blackberries.

Blackberry Picking – Still Good to Very Good!
The cool weather and ample moisture has been very good for blackberries. We believe it is our best crop ever. The white druplet problem is almost non existent this year. We have been picking Natchez (thornless), Chickasaw (thorny), Kiowa (thorny) and there are still lots. We have started picking Navaho and Ouachita (thornless) and Chester will be next, also thornless.

Blueberry picking - Improving rapidly from Fair to Good
There are blue and green blueberries on the bush now. If you pick the bush clean and come back a day later or even a ½ day later, it is as if it had not been picked at all. This also means that skill is required to get the ripe berries.

Picking Tips for Blueberries
A ripe blueberry will be uniformly blue and a little bit soft to the touch. It should detach from the stem easily. If you have to tug on it, it is not ready. If you hold the cluster in your hand and one of our quart plastic green baskets under the berry cluster, then run your fingers over the cluster and tickle the ripe off into the basket you will get very nice berries. If you try to pick them one at a time and you tug on the berry the whole cluster quivers and the ripe ones fall to the ground. So the trick is to use the quart basket or some mechanism to catch the berries as they fall.

Seedless Table Grapes are next up and we think about mid to late July. The Figs will start August 1 and there will be a bumper crop this year. They have loved all this rain. The Muscadines also appear to be on schedule for mid to late August.


What is that big tarp thing in the blackberries?
We have planted Black Magic (thorny and the sweetest blackberry I have ever eaten) and Prime Ark varieties of blackberries. Both of these varieties are late summer/fall bearing in addition to the spring-early summer crop. Temperatures over 85 degrees (typical weather in the summer time) during flower formation often results in smaller misshapen berries. To reduce this problem we have built a shade trellis over these varieties. We have used 4 by 4’s, high tensile wire, and the top rail used in chain-link fence. We will use 30% shade cloth. If the structure holds up under the vagaries of summer and winter storms we may expand it in to other blackberries.

If you see Walker does not have his usual zest— He had an accident with the 4 wheel drive Kubota Belly Mower. He busted 2 ribs and did $2500 worth of damage to the Mower. The engine stalled out and since it is hydraulic the brakes were inadequate to hold the mower on the hill. He bailed off the tractor at the last moment. Fortunately we had insurance to cover most of it.

At the risk of repeating ourselves- THANK YOU for your support! We would not be here without you!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

June 22

Published June 22, 2013

Blackberries - Excellent
Blueberries - Good and improving!

Blackberry Picking – Excellent!
Blackberry picking is excellent, and should continue that way. Now picking: Kiowa, Chickasaw and Natchez. The late blackberries Navaho and Chester are still a long way off. The good news is the Ouachita appears to be deer resistant but the deer are feasting on the Navaho and Natchez- grazing those bushes to the nub. We will put out another application of Millorganite (organic nitrogen fertilizer) to discourage the deer (they don’t like the smell), but the frequent rain melts it away.

Blueberries are in!
Picking was good on Saturday 6/22, but we were so heavily picked that it will probably be only fair on Sunday 6/23, and recovering quickly by Monday 6/24. They are coming on fast, and generally improving almost daily. I (Walker) am seeing a few “shiners” in the later varieties of blueberries so I suspect we are looking at a crescendo in a week or so. Keep checking our website for updates- we update the home page more often than we send out the emails.

Bike and electric car parking is operational.

Figs, Grapes & Muscadines:
Figs (August 1) and seedless table grapes (Mid July) are on schedule. The same is true of the muscadines. There is just a few breba figs getting ripe so if you see one, snatch it, and eat it and don’t tell anyone.

Farm Tours Turn Out:
The North Georgia Farm Tour went well on Sunday 6/16 with lots of intensive questions on pest management. The Carolina Farm Stewardship tours on June 1 and 2 went well with over 76 participating.

In the Blackberry field- west corner of the farm
The activity you see in the west corner of the farm is shade cloth trellis going up over the Black Magic and Prime Ark, late summer and fall bearing blackberries. In addition we are madly trying to keep up on the “tipping” of primo canes. They seem to be growing overnight with all the rainy weather.

Meet our Interns!
Our summer interns are doing a great job! If you get a chance- please introduce yourself. The interns are: Lukas from the Czech Republic, Nathan from Lexington SC, Jessica from Liberty and Tommy also of from Liberty- Jessica and Tommy have just graduated from High School and will be going on to school this fall. Nathan is a rising sophomore at Clemson.

Come see us in the field!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

June 5

Published June 5, 2013

Opening Day - Wed June 12!

Blackberries - We are now forecasting Wednesday June 12, 2013 for blackberries. They are starting to show a little color so I am pretty firm on this date. The first variety will be Natchez. It is thornless. I have also noticed a few shiners in the Kiowa blackberries.

Blueberries – I believe they should be ready about June 25, 2013. In previous years we have started on June 15.

The ample moisture this spring has meant there has not been any stress during cell division and first swell… and we are looking at some really big berries in both the black and the blue berries. The challenge this year has been to keep up with the grass and the weeds.

We are guessing that the seedless table grapes will start in mid July. Figs will be August 1 and we have not seen that date change in all the years we have been growing figs. The same can be said of the muscadines…mid August for them.

For those of you worried about global climate destabilization like us, we have added an electric car charger for plug-in electric cars. Initially there will be no charge until we see what our costs are. We have also added a bicycle rack for those that are going really low carbon. We see it as the responsibility of farmers to sequester more carbon than we use in growing the crop- including fuel use, and the fossil fuel used in making fertilizer, the nitrous oxides (a global warming gas) formed with fertilizer mineralization and other carbon supplements. To this end we are switching to using winter annual legumes to fix nitrogen and cycle other nutrients and adding pine trees in east-west rows to increase the depth of carbon fixation. The sun goes over east-west so there will be less impact of shade.

We have been lucky enough to get several more acres of land that adjoins us so we are over 21 acres now. Perhaps you have noticed us clearing land when you come down the drive way. We are happy to report that our test planting of seedless persimmons (Izu) is doing well. We have also planted olive trees. The varieties are Mission, Ascolana and Pendolina. We observed fruit rachises this year on May 10 and flowers on May 22, 2013. The jury is still out on whether we can do it but… nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Our summer employees this summer will be Nathan Melcher a rising sophomore at Clemson, Lukas Korbelik an intern from the Czech Republic, Tommy Delloroso and Jessica Pilgrim recent graduates from High School and Ruth Rollins. Ruth and Tommy were with us in 2012.

Thank you for your support! See you at the farm! Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch


Published April 10, 2013


Greetings from The Happy Berry!

Open Saturday April 13, 11 AM to 3 PM for willows
Willows with catkins season (wording is this way to keep the spam blockers from preventing the newsletter from getting to you) is nearing the end. We are harvesting the Easter willows now (I guess they did not get the bulletin that Easter was early this year). They are gorgeous this year! We still have lots of beautiful Silvers, some red curly, yellow and red stick dogwood, Dragon tails, and prairie willow. It is not too late to root your own and we have lots of already rooted willows.

Saturday April 20
The Pickens Azalea festival will be Saturday April 20, 9:30 until dark. We will be in booth number 206 between the TD Bank and Bank America. We will have lots of willows for sale. It is the end of the season… Come find us and "Let’s Make A Deal!"

You need to start thinking strawberries but remember we do not do strawberries. I (Walker) will try to update our strawberry grower list and get back to you. Last year’s list is in our old newsletter from last year at about this time.

Blackberries Forecast June 1

Blueberries Forecast June 15

News From the Fields:
The Last 10 days of March were really scary! We had an advective freeze (wind does not die down) early AM on March 21 (All open flowers were killed but fortunately not many were open) and a radiational freeze the morning of March 22. Radiational freezes are the worse! Emerging flowers can usually tolerate about 28 degrees. During a radiational freeze (no wind) the flowers super cool to the dew point and we were having dew points in the low to middle teens. Yikes! During radiational freezes we ran our wind machine (generates wind) to prevent supper cooling. Then after a rainy weekend and Monday we had another advective freeze early Tuesday morning the 26 of March (fortunately the flowers did not develop much) and then for three nights in a row we radiational freezes through Friday morning the 29 of March all with very low dewpoints. The last two days finally went out “like a lamb.” And it has been warm ever since. It appears that we were successful and prevented super cooling. More later! It generally cost about $375 a night to run the wind machine not counting my time but we saved the crop!

Blueberry pruning is done! Grape pruning is done! We are doing the muscadines now. We had tree fall on the muscadine trellis and termites ate a few of our treated posts…the trellises have been repaired. We hope to be to finish the muscadines and start the figs by the time you read this on Friday April 12. We are running late. Not to worry that we have not mentioned the blackberry pruning - the blackberries were done last summer (better because it removes disease inoculum and gives the primocanes time to heal before winter).

Infrastructure work is next on the agenda. – Don’t forget we have an electric charger for anyone who drives electric cars. Spread the word!

We are looking forward to a great season with you!
Walker for The Happy Berry/Mountain Willow Bunch


Published January 8, 2013


If we are not at a weekend show we will be open at the farm on Saturdays from 11 AM until 3 PM. Of course if you call ahead we will meet you any time its daylight except on Sunday morning before noon.

Our first show is the Annual Remodeling Expo, January 11 to 13, at the TD Convention Center in Greenville. (Note that this means we will not be open on the farm Sat Jan 12 since we will be at the show.)

We will also be at regional home and garden shows in Anderson February 8 to 10 and Greenville March 1 to 3. (Note that this means we will not be open on the farm on Saturday Feb 9 or Saturday March 2, since we will be at the shows.)

From now through the first week of April if you need a program for your Garden Club, regional meetings or other gatherings we would love to give a program on Decorative Willows and Florals… The speaker would be Walker “Mr Willow II.” Just give us a buzz at 864 350 9345 or email us ( and we will set it up! Due to logistics we require an audience of 20.

The beautiful Silvers are doing it! As we say in the willow trade “they are popping!” The male catkin, which if carefully pushed, will get to be an inch or more. At The Happy Berry/Mountain Willow we cut them just as the shucks split or pops off. They are very difficult to handle if you let them go further. It then is up to the customer if they want to push them to a larger size. It is easily done- But…be careful …If you push to hard and are not watching, they will bloom (the male anthers will emerge, usually yellow in color) and drop off the stem. Many customers just pinch the shucks off and make a dried arrangement immediately. We know of arrangements that are 10 years old and still look great.

Pussy Willows grow well here in USDA Zone 8a and as a plus there are no female trees around, so seeds and progeny are not a problem. Of course if you want, we will teach you how to grow-your-own…but you are in control! And you can put them where you want them not where a seed happens to fall. Ask us for cutting wood and instructions. To our knowledge we are the only producer in South Carolina so we are not worried about competition. In fact we will prune your tree for the stems, if you are reasonably close.

That brings up the issue of price. We just checked on the web and we found that our prices under-cut theirs by $3 to $5 or more for the 3-4 footers. Plus you have to pay shipping. In addition if you want 5 feet or 6 feet, no problem for us. If you would like really big ones 9, 10 or more feet let us know and we will special cut them for you and have them waiting for pick up. Our price for 3-4 feet with 12 stems per bunch is $12 or two for $20. If you would like us to mix in 3 red curly stem it is just $15 or 3 green curly for $14.

So we also have Red and Green Curly’s and Purple Heirloom that are ready to pop but have not done it in the field but will if you force just a little. Japanese Fantails have just few shucks splitting so they are ready for selective cutting. We will have a very limited supply of Sir Harry Lauder Walking Stick at $3 per stem.

PRUNING- come learn with us!
We are within 3 and 1/2 rows of finishing the “tying up” process in the blackberries. Except when we are cutting willows we will be spending full time pruning the blueberries. The Muscadines will follow the blueberries and the grapes after that and the figs last. So if you have blueberries in your yard now is the time to start. If you want lessons come see us and in exchange for pruning a few of ours we will teach how to prune yours.

We purchased and are in the throws of adding to our parking an electric car charger with infrastructure to add 3 more if the use warrants it. Initially we plan on it being free until we get a handle on cost. “First blush” back of the envelop figuring, suggests it will be worth it, if it means the difference in the customer coming or not.

It is Official - 2012 was our best season ever! That circumstance has been true since 2007! The bushes look great. The wind machine is fixed. Good rain this summer of 2012 set a great crop of branches and fruit buds…So 2013 looks very promising. We keep waiting for the axe to fall…But are going after it like it will not happen.

Any questions … let us know. If it is generic we will include it in our next newsletter …otherwise a personal response to the best of our ability.

Happy Farming!
Walker for The Happy Berry/Mountain Willow Bunch