RIPE FOR THE PICKING
FRENCH CREEK – Hints of plump blueberries were exposed in vast fields of bushes on a hillside property in French Creek Saturday, where the owner marked the start of the picking season by inviting people to fill buckets with the scrumptious goody.
Dinah Campi, the owner of Floral Acres, said she was surprised to see the number of people perusing through the 3,200 blueberry bushes on her property. She said she always was used to the regular traffic, but it appeared that even more people showed up first thing in the morning to claim pint-fulls of her berries for a small fee.
“I have regular folks who have been coming up here picking for years,” Campi said.
The first berry bush on the property was planted by her mother, the late Roberta Koblank, who she said died in 2011 at 97. The berries grew so well on the soil, Campi said that she and her family would plant hundreds more each year.
It became an annual occurrence to provide buckets to people who travel through the bushes picking the berries for a small fee. The first day of the picking was $2 per pint, but the remaining days of the season are only $1.50 per pint. Campi said she has a variety of different types of blueberries, some of which ripen early and others which ripen late in the season. This year, there were many first-time visitors plopping berries in buckets.
“It’s my first time at a blueberry farm, and its very nice,” said Shanty Ramkisson, who is originally from Maryland but currently lives in Upshur County. “I didn’t believe it would be this nice. I love blueberries.”
Ramkisson wasn’t the only new-comer who was impressed with the far-from-short supply of berries.
“It’s pretty nice, plentiful and the weather is great,” said Phil Ward of Upshur County. “This is my first time here to this farm. It’s kind of a well-kept secret, I think. I’m just curious to ask how she keeps the deer and the birds from them.”
John Taylor, of Roanoke, said he once asked that question of Koblank before her passing.
“She whispered, ‘We don’t tell them we’re here,'” Taylor said.
For Taylor, nothing beats the berries that grow from the grounds on the hillside in French Creek.
“You try to buy them in the stores and you just can’t get the taste,” Taylor said.
What is left of the berries, or what is yet to bloom, are still ripe for the picking throughout the season. Floral Acres is located at 385 Bridal Ridge Road. For more information, call 304-924-6462 or visit www.floralacres.com.