21-June-2020

Be a Berry Good Leader

Remember that classic children’s book “Blueberries for Sal”? Maybe we should write a new book – Blueberries for Sam!

Blueberries for Sam

When the Fourth of July rolls around, it’s time to mix red berries with blue by turning your thoughts to blueberry picking. Here’s an easy cake you can make with berries from your very own garden someday.

Blueberries for Uncle Sam

Good luck, bad luck, who knows? When Green Spiral Tours started in 2008, it was hard to find even a few families willing to skip school to pick strawberries; but twelve years later, strawberry picking is now so popular it requires reservations, — so we shift our gaze to blueberries.

Yum

Blueberry picking is a wonderful inter-generational activity because it’s an activity not too tall for youngsters and not too low to the ground for grandparents. It’s also something you can do that honors social distancing during the pandemic.

Better Together

Unfortunately, there are fewer blueberry picking locations than strawberry picking locations. (Entrepreneurial Alert! We need more urban u-pick berry farms!) In the age of covid-19, farms are now booking on-line reservations.

Watch the Wind Ridge Farm web-site for their next u-pick date, and jump on it when it appears.

https://www.windridgefarm.net/Pickingupdate/Pickingupdate.htm

Overview from Shadow Carver on Google

Here’s a run-down of other locations for your general future knowledge:

Babb Blueberry Farm in Beufort – Babb Blueberry Farm is run by a lovely couple who uses organic fertilizers, and no pesticides or herbicides. They also sell frozen blueberries and homemade jam and have an AirBnB near the lake. Located one hour west from the Arch along I-44, this is a small family operation with nice restrooms, a fishing pond and excellent hospitality. Bring a picnic lunch. Or, stop for lunch in Eureka, Pacific or at the Junie Moon Cafe in Union along the way. Babb Blueberry Farm keeps up on their Facebook posts, but always call before you go.

NOTE: In 2020 they were hit with late season frosts and lost 80% of their crops. So no more blueberry picking this year.

GPS: 2751 Highway 50, Beaufort, MO 63013 * (636) 667-1171

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Farmers Markets of Saint Louis – Berries are popular items at farmers markets and sell out quickly. There is no apostrophe in “farmers markets”, because it is literally a market for farmers, plural. Farmers Markets are business incubators, and at the core, farming is a business. If you want to support the local food movement, head for your local farmers market.

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Ozark Berry Farm – This farm offers blueberry, blackberry and elderberry picking from mid-June to mid-July. U-pick is by appointment, and is already sold out for 2020.
https://www.ozarkberryfarm.com/
552 Lick Creek Rd, Leasburg, MO 65535

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Thies Farm – The Thies family has been farming in Missouri since 1885 and now has three locations. Blueberries grown by Thies Farm can be purchased at their stores on location at the North Hanley, Maryland Heights and St. Charles location. By the way, the way to pronounce Thies Farm is like this: “TEES Farm”. Their online communications are sometimes confusing due to all the different locations. It’s best to call them by phone.

GPS: 4215 North Hanley Road, 63121 *(314) 429 – 5506 *
GPS: 3120 Maryland Heights Expressway; 63146 * (314) 469-7559 *
GPS: 3200 Greens Bottom Road St. Charles, MO 63304 * (636) 447-2230 *

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Wind Ridge Farms in New Melle – This family farm offers wagon rides for kids plus blueberry, blackberry and peach picking. It’s a bit of a drive from Saint Louis, but well worth it. By the way, peaches and blueberries are delicious together when served with a splash of cream.

Wind Ridge Farm is offering blueberry picking by appointment this year, so watch their web-site for the next date and “jump on it like a duck on a june-bug”, as they say.

Located one hour west of the Arch, along 40/64 just past Weldon Springs.
GPS: 3511 Highway F, New Melle 63341 * (636) 828-5900

Here’s that link again: https://www.windridgefarm.net/Pickingupdate/Pickingupdate.htm

Enjoy the wild rumpus!

After one of the coldest winters on record, Green Spiral families ventured forth on a warm day in April to visit the famous “Chicken Ranch” in Kirkwood.

Fresh Eggs!

Ranch Fresh Eggs!

The Chicken Ranch is simply the fun name that Bill and Joan Ruppert have given their backyard hobby and chicken house — the complex is big enough to hold 50 chickens, and includes a second story look-out post! It’s quite famous in chicken circles, and if you ask to be on Bill’s email list, you’ll get an informative email about chicken happenings about town from time to time.

Let's go see the chickens!

Let’s go see the chickens!

It was super fun for the kids to feed the chickens, mingle with the chickens and even collect some eggs. After a mink came through a few years ago (yes a mink) and wantonly killed many of the chickens, the Rupperts are in the process of rebuilding the flock, now numbering about 23. They have all sorts of chickens including Americanas, Speckled Sussexes, Barred Rock Plymouths and Rhode Islands.  They also have a rooster, called Ike, who came with a hen called Tina. See if you can spy Ike, the fancy white rooster below:

So many chickens so little time

So many chickens so little time

Fond childhood memories of rural chickens was a theme and the link between generations; who will keep backyard chickens in the future without fond childhood memories to draw upon?  Would a factory farm allow Green Spiral Families to tour their chickens?  How exactly to you check a chicken to see if it’s about to lay an egg in time for dinner?  These are the kinds of questions that rise up when you join an adventure learning group together.

checking the chickens

checking the chickens

Many Green Spiral field trips involve something unexpected. Sadly, or not, there was no misadventure associated with this trip; only a pleasant outing on a warm spring day. The only surprise was that we got to buy fresh eggs at the end of our field trip!

Each a different color.

Each a different color.

 

Of course, the real prize was getting to talk to Bill Ruppert in person.  As a purveyor of wholesale plants, he’s an expert in horticulture and a major player in the movement towards native landscaping; he’s recently worked on the Citygarden, Novus International, and the MICDS projects.  If you get a chance to hear him speak, I would recommend it. Here’s Bill, plus a few links:

Here's Bill

Here’s Bill

About the Ruppert Chicken Ranch: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.showpage/pageID/7/index.htm

Best Plant Ideas: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.main/index.htm

Bill’s Speaking Calendar: http://www.nnpstl.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.main/index.htm

More chickens!

want more chickens!?

In the future, you can tour the “Chicken Ranch” by watching for it to be featured on the annual Sustainable Backyard Tour:

http://www.sustainablebackyardtour.com/grassrootsgreenstl.com/Tour.html