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After Bumper Crop, Texas Blueberry Farmers Want to Offload Their Giant Berries On You

Three berries in hand -- better in a cobbler.
Three berries in hand -- better in a cobbler.

Bailey's Berry Patch in Sadler, Texas, has experienced quite a few ups and downs the past year or so. Even before last summer's drought killed 65 percent of their bushes, in early spring one tall dark cloud sauntered over the farm and pummeled the delicate crop like a school-yard bully, leaving many bushes battered, bruised and broken.

In 2009, Erick and Jeannie Duarte took over this berry farm in a desolate part of far north Texas from Pearce and Ann Bailey who had planted rows of blueberries and blackberries in 1996. After many years of hard work, the farm became a popular pick-your-own berry patch. When the Bailey's were ready to retire from farming the Duarte's stepped in. Their first season, 2010, was bountiful. But, as luck always has it for new farmers, things have sort of went down hill after that.

Working with less than half the bushes they had two years ago, the Duartes are trying to regain their footing. The good news now is that the ones that survived are producing plump blueberries almost the size of quarters.

But their newborn baby didn't get the memo on this season's good pickings. He decided to arrive over six weeks early. Thankfully, he's healthy and growing strong, but is spending some time in a Dallas hospital for good measure. In the meantime, mom and dad are burning the highway between their farm in Sadler and a North Dallas hospital, and trying to figure out what to do with all those stinking big, fat blueberries.

Since they're dealing with a smaller crop, they don't want to invest in the mandatory insurance needed to cover any happenings if they open their farm up for pick-your-own. So they're looking for more creative ways to unload their crop.

"I have to do something with them," said Durate of the 250 to 500 gallons he expects from his current crop.

This all happens to bode well for Dallas. Between trips across north Texas the Duartes are taking orders and are willing to drop them off and meet people who would like to buy their blueberries. Think of it as a traveling farm truck.

They sell blueberries by the gallon and half gallon. (This is just me talking here, but if you call these nice people, think on the bigger side of orders here. Blueberries freeze well.). All the details can be worked out via the Bailey Berry Patch Facebook page where Durate has posted his cell phone number. There's also always the FB message option.

While their fruit is not certified organic, Erick told me they don't use any chemicals and practice organic principles.


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