Owners: Mark and Kim Newell

Location: Eldridge, Mo.

History and Products: Nestled along a dirt road in rural Laclede County, Mo., outside Eldridge, Irongate Berry Farm is a new endeavor that hopes to inspire families and children through food, education and fun in the great outdoors. Mark Newell, a longtime employee of Eldridge’s Metal Tech, and his wife Kim, a home health nurse, started their berry farm with thornless blackberries, as well as blueberries, a few raspberries, u-pick tomatoes and green beans in the summer of 2019.

“We have 20 acres here,” Mark shared as he walked through rows of blackberries that have been trained to grow up, tangle-free on fence wires. “So far we have about 3 acres in berries and vegetables. We do u-pick and we also take orders and pre-pick for people. We are also growing plants for people to take back and plant in their own gardens, including tomatoes, squash, zucchini and watermelon.”

“We also have two beehives and honey,” Kim added. “We entered three jellies from our berries and honey in the Laclede County Fair and won all blue ribbons, including best of show for our honey. Last year, 2019, was our first year for that so it was pretty exciting.”

Future Plans: The Newells have great plans for future product and acreage expansion, as well as programs.

“We want families to come out and pick fruits and vegetables, and have a good time. We’d love to have school kids come on field trips in the spring and during summer school and see the produce growing on the vines,” Kim said. “We like them to see and learn where their food comes from, to see the bees, from a distance, of course, and learn about them, too. We talked to some others who have raised berries on a commercial basis and we finally decided, let’s do it.”

Irongate Berry Farm has plans to include strawberries in their 2020 season, as well as expand the products from the previous year. They have consulted with University of Missouri extension horticulture specialists and have also worked to use natural remedies to help control insects and plant diseases as well as four-footed pests like deer that threaten their crops. Plans also include a small store that would offer various products, including jams, jellies and honey.


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