• Owners: Alan and Lil Collins
• Location: Leasburg, MO
History: Ozark Berry Farm has been operating for more than 10 years as a u-pick/we-pick berry farm. Owners Alan and Lil Collins became interested in having a blueberry farm around 2008 when they first grew some bushes around a house they had.
“We decided to look around and started scoping out all the properties coming up for sale and this one came up. We ended up here and with the idea was to give us something to do after retirement. It keeps us physically active.
“We are open from mid-June to mid-July. But we keep adding stuff that makes the season longer. We started with blueberries, but then people asked for blackberries. Then we decided to add elderberries. After the blackberries, we thought we would add strawberries. The problem with commercial strawberries is that every three years you have to move them and let the ground sit for three to five years or fumigate the land. We didn’t have good enough dirt to do that. I found table-top strawberries. We decided to do an experiment with them to see if it would work and it has been successful.”
Products and Services: “The list of products is blueberries (five varieties), blackberries, elderberries, strawberries and honey. We have jams and jellies, and the honey is a wildflower honey.”
The times to pick varies day by day or the produce can be picked for people and they buy.
“Primarily, we are a u-pick. That’s how we do our berries. But we also do a we-pick where we pick for you. If there are orders online, we fill it by picking the berries. We have enough blueberries we are open everyday for people to come pick. For the blackberries, we have a picking list where we ask people through emails or a newsletter about when to come pick. It’s a timing issue with the berries. St. Louis Food Bank people came out and helped unload the over-abundance of blueberries this season. They picked 800 pounds of blueberries to go to the food bank.
“We don’t spray pesticides. We have been lucky that we haven’t had anything we couldn’t handle without sprays. We would get a little caterpillar on the blueberries that we can pick off by hand. Japanese beetles, we set up traps for those.”
Future and Philosophy: “We will probably expand the strawberries of the table-top method and change the season on it so we can get out of the summer months.” Their philosophy of their berry farm is “we didn’t want anything that was huge and too commercial. We like to walk around and talk to people and teach them about blueberries. That’s the really fun part of it all.”