Berry Pickers Find Fresh Experience at Area Farm

Berry pickers find fresh experience at area farm


KEVIN GREEN
Kevin Green/News-Journal Photo Sid Greer, left, shows Nathan Wells, 9, how to pick blueberries Friday at the Greer Farm in Daingerfield. Greer owns the farm with his wife, Eva.



Posted: Saturday, June 26, 2010 2:09 am
By Jimmy Alford

DAINGERFIELD — The grass is cool under the tall trees surrounding the Greer Farm. The manicured rows are tight and neat, with only berry laden branches edging into view. Blueberries and blackberries hang heavy and ripe for passersby to pick.
The Greer Farm is nestled deep in the heart of Northeast Texas just outside the Daingerfield city limits. Small signs point the way down a shaded blacktop road that winds past a field of berries and finally past a classic white farmhouse. Sid and Eva Greer open their home and farm to visitors and berry pickers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and say they will open earlier — if someone is really eager to start picking.

People can buy pre-picked berries, but many people believe the fun is in picking the berries. Pickers walk up the rows of blueberry and blackberry bushes looking for ripened dark berries that fall off the stems at the slightest touch.

Sid and Eva are proud of their stock and have transformed what used to be dark gnarly underbrush into park-like open spaces with plenty of green grass and scenic views.

"We've been here for 12 years, and the first thing we started was thinning timber to get some cash flow," Sid said. "Then we started raising Maine-Anjou cattle."

The Greers have about 400 acres and are involved in seven enterprises that keep them in the black. Raising cattle, selling timber and berries are packed into their busy farm life with maintaining cabin getaways and feeding their goats. People staying at the cabins are well trained to lock gates to keep away curious grass munchers.

Before getting into the farm life, Sid Greer worked for British Petroleum in London. He and Eva decided to give up corporate life. Sid went to high school in Daingerfield and decided to return to the area. Eva was born in Belize and is used to moving around. She said she loves the area and has made a lot friends.

The bell rings and let the Greers know pickers are ready to check out. A grandfather, daughter and grandson lay their picks on the scales, as Eva calculates the cost. At $3 per pound, a bucket of blueberries or blackberries costs about $15 to $18. The grandfather, Jim Tollett, has been coming to the Greers for three years, and said the crop was much bigger than this past year.

"I come over here to pick blueberries, as many as I can eat," Tollett said. "I really enjoy coming out here. We've been picking for about 40 minutes, and we got 15 pounds."

Tollett said he picked so many blackberries this past year that he hasn't been able to eat them all — yet. Another family from Dallas drove out just for the experience of picking their own berries. Mardy Sackley, Jenny Sackley, 16, Ali Sackley, 13 and Arianna Jopling, 13, were busy searching for the best and biggest blueberries.

"The drive wasn't too bad. It was long, but worth it," Sackley said. "First I Googled, then I read an article about all the places in North Texas to pick your own blueberries. I like the premier blueberries the best."

The Greer have five blueberry varieties to chose from: premier, climax, tifblue, Austin and Brightwell. They also have Chickasaw and Apache blackberry varieties. Sid helped the Sackleys pick for a moment and is glad to show anyone the proper berry picking technique. Sid said he and Eva do all of the farm work by hand and just want people to come and have a good time. Eva said they have about 1,000 pickers every season.

"We're getting more and more people all the time," Eva said. "They come pick some berries, sit and have a picnic."

The berry season starts around Memorial Day and lasts for six weeks. The Greers sell some of their wares at the Historic Longview Farmer's Market.