Raspberry picking is one of my favorite childhood summer memories. Our friends, The Golden’s, had their very own raspberry bushes (which was rare where I grew up), and I vividly remember play dates with their daughter Amy. We’d play in her sandbox, run through the sprinkler in our bathing suits and then pick raspberries. It never seemed to fail that more raspberries went in our tummies than in the basket where we were supposed to put them.
Those happy summer memories are on my mind this morning as I pull up to Thunderbird Berry Farm. The “pick your own berry” farm is in Broken Arrow at 71st and 321st East Avenue. (You can find it easily by putting 7515 South Hansen Road, Broken Arrow in your GPS.) It is the largest berry farm in the metro, featuring over 7 acres or 7,000 plants.
My friend, Don Hansen owns the farm. He invited me out this morning and together we climb into his John Deere for a tour. We navigate our way though row after row of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries (which is a delicious raspberry and blackberry combo) and blueberries, of course. He has several varieties of them all. Don also has asparagus, tomato plants, cage free chickens (look at those eggs), local honey from his beehives and more. What he specializes in though, are berries.
Under a big blue sky, we spot plenty of big, fat, sweet blueberries (my favorite) ready for the picking! (And of course, I taste test many along the way.)
It turns out, thanks to our mild winter and lack of late season freeze, the berry business is booming. Strawberry season is just about over, but the blueberries are ready and bursting with flavor. Typically, you have to wait until June to pick them, but at Thunderbird Berry Farm, they’ve been picking them now for over a week. Don explains that blueberries ripen like coffee beans, a few at a time, and that’s why you have to pick them. I also learn that blackberries are “red when they’re green”, and while you’ll find some ripe, dark-colored ones there, many more will ripen in about 10 days.
Don’s been growing berries for about 8 years and this is the biggest crop he’s ever seen. Berry season isn’t even in full swing yet, but there are a lot there already, and many more to come.
Thunderbird Berry Farm is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 until noon, but even on this Monday morning, families have gathered to pick their own. You can call ahead and make an appointment (918.640.7168), and I suspect at times some folks just show up. Now is the time to head out there, before the oppressive summer heat builds in.The berries are $3/pound, or if you pick two baskets for Don, you can pick a third for free! (If you’d rather not pick, there is also the option to just buy!) Everyone is so warm and welcoming and laid back there; without a doubt this berry business is a labor of love.
Pesticides are not used on these berries so it’s okay if a few go directly from the bush to your mouth, which of course, was my favorite way of doing it as kid.
Don generously loads me up with boxes of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries as I pack up to head home, and of course I am very (berry) grateful.
As I turn to leave I can’t help but notice two little girls proudly inspecting the blueberries they’ve just picked…
Seems to me that, Don’s not just growing berries here, but sweet summer memories as well…
For more information on Thunderbird Berry Farm… check out its Facebook page below, and tell them Julie sent ya!
- Berry Recipes – Strawberries, Raspberries & More! (berries.com)
- On Berry-Picking: (notdabblinginnormal.wordpress.com)
- Blueberry Picking at Underwood Farms (thekeyofkels.wordpress.com)
- Food: Berries are delicious (20poorandfabulous.com)
- A Pick-Your-Own Prize (timesunion.com)
- Homemade Berry Jam (galantecookbook.wordpress.com)