Visiting the Farm
What should I bring?
- Containers/bags to take your berries home
- Sunblock and a hat if it's sunny
- Bug spray
We supply picking containers, but you're welcome to bring your own, if you prefer. We also have sunblock and bug spray if you forget.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes! We have a Square.
Are kids welcome?
Absolutely! (But please supervise them.)
How about dogs?
Yes, but they must be well-behaved, leashed, and stay near you as you pick. If you want to visit the llamas, you won't be able to bring your dog into the barn or pasture area (llamas don't like dogs!).
Why pick my own when I can buy them at the store?
Freshly picked blueberries are an entirely different fruit from what you find at the grocery store. We promise. We actually weren't very fond of blueberries until we visited a you-pick blueberry farm, and WOW. They're juicy and tart and sweet—totally unlike the dry little marbles you pay too much for at the supermarket. You haven't tasted a blueberry till you've eaten one fresh. Plus, we hope you'll enjoy the experience of picking berries out in the countryside on a historic farm.
Conventionally raised blueberries (i.e., blueberries sprayed with chemicals to control for weeds and insect damage) contain 52 pesticide residues, according to the USDA Pesticide Data Program, several of which are known or probable carcinogens. The toxicity is so high that, in 2010, the U.S. Environmental Working Group placed conventionally raised blueberries on its "Dirty Dozen" list, recommending that people buy organic blueberries whenever possible (as well as many other fruits and vegetables whose skins you eat rather than peel off and discard). Read more here: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/dangers-pesticides-blueberries-87335.html.
Why $5 per pound?
We spent a lot of time deciding on pricing. We surveyed the price of organic blueberries in every store we could find them, then considered our own production costs (labor, organic fertilizer, mulch, etc.) as well as the costs associated with maintaining a beautiful setting for visitors. Though we provide a fruit crop, we’re also trying to provide visitors a special experience—gathering berries in a quiet rural setting beneath huge, ancient oak trees; touring a historic barn (c. 1875); watching the llamas; walking around our prairie and portion of forest reserve; playing ping-pong or bag toss…
Do you offer pre-picked berries for sale?
Sometimes, but because we want to encourage the experience of picking your own berries rather than retail sale, we don’t focus on selling pre-picked berries.
How do I store my blueberries?
For short-term (week-long) storage:
- Go through the berries and discard any soft or damaged berries. Remove any stems.
- Don't wash the berries before storing them (especially important for long-term storage). Washing can toughen the blueberries' skin.
- Cool the berries to room temperature. This will prevent excessive condensation within the storage container. You can even spread them on paper towels or cookie sheets and place them in front of a fan for more effective drying.
- Select a storage container (Pyrex, Tupperware, or Ziploc bags will do) and put a folded paper towel in the container to absorb any condensation.
- Load the blueberries into the container and place in the refrigerator.
- Rinse before eating.
For long-term storage (up to 1 year):
- Follow steps 1-3 above.
- Spread the blueberries in a single layer on cookie sheets and place in the freezer until they're frozen (no longer than 24 hours). This prevents them from clumping together in the storage containers.
- Transfer the berries to freezer bags or other freezer containers and seal tightly.
- Place in freezer!
- Rinse before eating.
Adapted from http://www.blueberrywoman.com/research.php
How do I grow my own blueberry bushes in Iowa?
Though blueberry plants are hardy perennials, growing them in Iowa takes special dedication. Ask us for tips!
What's the cloudy white coating on blueberries?
It's called "bloom," and it's a natural, protective wax coating, similar to the coating on plums and apples. (It's not pesticide residue; we never spray our bushes.) Bloom is completely tasteless and harmless. It protects the berries from certain bacteria and insects and keeps them moist. Read more
Do llamas really spit?
Yes, but it's more like a sneeze, and they only do it when they're mad (usually at each other). They've only spit on us a couple of times, and it was when we were giving them medicine they didn't want to take. They won't spit at visitors feeding them treats...unless you have a dog with you...they don't like dogs. That's why llamas are often used as guard animals for sheep; they fend off the coyotes. Getting spit on doesn't hurt. It's actually kind of funny.
Can I pet the llamas?
You can visit Jake and Elwood and give them a treat. We have alpaca pellets they like to snack on. Our llamas are fond of people, but they may not let you pet them. They're kind of shy around new people.
Can I play a short, silly video game online featuring Elwood?
Why, yes you can! Eric made one. Use your arrow keys to help Elwood collect all the blueberries: http://www.blueyahblueberryfarm.com/games/elwood/index.html.