Published Oct 22, 2010

The Berry Patch Field Day

By Sally Worley
Dean, Judy, and Jack the dog greet young visitors to the farm.

The Berry Patch was an idyllic place to start PFI’s fifth annual Garlic Fest. On this beautiful pre-fall day, approximately 50 people showed up to learn about Dean and Judy’s operation while touring the farm on a hay rack and sampling delectable Honeycrisp apples.

Mike Henry rings up a customer at the farm stand.

The Berry Patch’s fruit offerings are amazing. They raise eight acres of blueberries, all bushes hand planted and pruned. They also raise ten acres of strawberries, 20 acres of apples, ten acres of raspberries, currants, and a few exotic blackberries.

 The Berry Patch sells their products at farmer’s market in Des Moines, through Farm to Folk, via an on-farm stand, as well as through an extensive U-Pick operation. The U-Pick season begins with fresh strawberries in May and continues through the season until the last apples are harvested in October.

 Dean and Judy discussed their integrated pest management, the wood furnace that heats their home and greenhouse, and their new ventures into greenhouse vegetable production. They have recently started to offer vegetables for sale in the winter to complement their winter apples.

This mustard cover crop, in addition to creating a beautiful fall photo, will help reduce weeds and increase organic matter for next year’s strawberry planting.

Dean is a scientist at heart, and continually experiments to improve farm practices and products. It is always a learning experience to hear about Dean’s new techniques and philosophies.

Dean leads a wagon tour