Last updated on June 27, 2012.
2012 Blackberry season is CLOSED
Due to the very hot weather and lack of rain, the blackberry season has ended and the farm is closed. The same warm weather that started the season early has brought it to an early end. There are no berries left that haven't shriveled up from the heat.
2012 Blackberry season is going to be EARLY !!!!!
The weather last year wiped us out and it may do it again if it doesn't start raining!!!
Last updated on June 2, 2012.
The farm is currently open for You Pick, starting today, June 2. We will be open 9am until noon on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday during the season.
Last updated on May 25, 2012.
Between the -26 degree freeze in February, 2011 and the HOT, DRY summer in 2011, we did not have a crop last year. But blackberry plants are hardy, so right now it looks like we may have enough berries to have U-pick in 2012. There are lots of green and red berries in the field right now, and they are turning black. In fact, we picked about a quart today, just walking around a little in the Ouachitas. (We also picked a bushel of green beans so we were too tired to pick very many.) I would have taken a picture of them to put on the web but we ate them too fast! They are a month early, so people better get them while they last. Give us a call if you want to come pick. Remember we do not get good phone reception at the farm, so leave us a message and we will try to call you back as soon as we can. We will not be having a regular picking schedule, because we cannot keep up with that schedule. We will not be going to farmers' markets or selling to wholesalers either. Old age has been hitting both of us hard. We do not currently have anyone working for us at the farm, so we have to cut back. Hopefully we will have someone in the near future. We will try to scale back this year and see where it takes us. I have left in the last update that was done last summer so you can kind of see what our situation is.
Previous update from July 18, 2011.
Five years ago when we started the blackberry farm, we agreed to commit ourselves, both physically and financially, to the effort for at least a 5 year period. It was mostly a whim. We old folks wanted to try a commercial crop and mayby entice the sons to the farm. Things have changed in many ways. Our oldest son is still in California and the younger one has now moved out there as well. We will be 70 and 71 years old by next spring, and we are not up to doing all the labor ourselves. We do not have the capital to continue putting money into the operation and NEVER making a profit. We can't afford to hire labor and pay operating cost. The state of Oklahoma has added insult to injury by creating the BAT (Business Activity Tax) which is a tax on people TRYING to make money in Oklahoma. You are taxed for trying even when you profit nothing. Maybe that is the straw that will break our backs. In the past 5 years Jack has had a pace maker and a couple of stints put in his heart so he can't use a weed eater or chain saw. He has poison ivy in his blood stream that breaks out when ever he gets hot and sweaty, even in winter.
We have talked it over and we will try one more year. The plants did not all die in the freeze; there are primacanes now that will have berries next year, God willing. Farming is always a gamble, but we know Who controls the dice. Maybe there is some younger person out there who wants to lease the field. Or maybe there are lots of people who want to lease a share of the field. If you have enjoyed the field in the past, give us some suggestions on how to continue the operation. At any rate, check us out next year.
GOD bless all of you, Jack and Dadreon Ritchie
|Our History||Our Goal||Our Prices||2011 Season||U-Pick Times|
|U-Pick Pictures||Pickers Earn $$$||You Pick Rules||Directions||Past Pictures|
|Farmers Markets||Frozen Berries||Blackberry Wine||Garden Pictures||Contact US|
Ritchie Blackberry Farm offers fresh BLACKBERRIES during June and July through Oklahoma Farmers' Markets, you pick operations, special orders and wholesale fruit.
Come and pick your own and enjoy the peace of the field,(blackberries are never better than right off the vine!), or come and see us at one of the Oklahoma Farmers' Markets listed below.
We have a brochure with an order form included. If you would like to receive one please give us a call or e-mail .
2011 Blackberry season!!!
The 2011 crop will not be a large crop. There was a late freeze that hit -26 degrees!! We have never had a freeze like that in our life times. Now the near 100 degree temperatures in June are not helping either. We do have some berries but only time will tell how the crop will turn out. We opened to pickers in the Ouachita berries on Monday, June 20th and the ripe ones were quickly picked out. Of course more Ouachitas will continue to ripen and we expect the Apaches and Triple Crowns to begin ripening around June 27, 2011. Since we expect the crop to be smaller than usual, we suggest people check here first. If the site has not been updated within the past 5 days, you can call first, drop by the farm, or email us for updates. We are getting more inquiries all the time so please be patient if you do not get an immediate answer.
The 2010 season was our best crop to date. We had lots of people come for U-Pick and we had good success selling at farmers' markets and selling pre-picked berries at the farm.Back to top
The GOAL of Ritchie Blackberry Farm!!!
Do unto others as we would have them do unto us. That means grow the very best possible fruit we can; keep a clean and safe field that people will enjoy picking in; sell at a price people can afford and we can still cover our expenses.
We are trying several things to accomplish that goal.
1. We have a young man who is working for us part time now. He is making the work of maintaining the field alot easier for us since our sons are both living in california.
2. The 2011 prices all season will be at the July 4, 2010 prices. The U-pick price is $3.25 per quart and $13.00 per gallon. There is no discount for volume. The prepicked price at the farm will be $4.25 per quart and $17.00 per gallon. We pay pickers $1.00 per quart and we will continue that practice.
3. We will limit our farmers' market sales to Cherry Street Market in Tulsa, and the Ditch Witch company market(one time per year) in Ponca City. With only 2 of us it is very hard physically for one of us to get enough fruit to market to make it profitable and leave the other to run u-pick.
4. We will take orders from people who do not want to pick berries themselves. We try to match the volume we have our hired pickers pick with the orders coming in. In 2010 it was possible, because of the size of the crop, to have picked berries on hand to sell to people at the field. This year we would like our customers to order ahead of time so that we can hire people to pick the correct volume to always have the berries fresh and ready when the buyer comes for them. Berries are kept in the walk-in refrigerator until the buyer comes to pick them up. Sometimes when people come to the farm, there are pickers there that they can hire to pick for them on the spot.
5. Instead of going to farmers markets, we are considering advertizing in Tulsa, Stillwater, Oklahoma City, Ponca City and Bartlesville to deliver berries to prepaid customers in those towns on a rotating schedule. This depends on the size of the crop and the availability of pickers. This will be considered for the 2012 season.
6. We have planted a large garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, corn, okra, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini squash, and decorative gourds which we will try to sell at the farm if God favors us with good crops. This will not be U-Pick. We will keep an eye on store prices and be competitive.
7. Our Cherry orchard is growing nicely. There were not many berries this year, but we are hopeful for next. We also have some peach, plum, nectarine, and pear trees that will begin to produce in a year or so. When they do they will also be U-Pick.
8. We will not be getting a winery license because we do not have the time to devote to making wine. Our son has some insight into making blackberry wine and is willing to share that with anyone.Back to top
Farmer's Market price is $3.50 / pint and $6.00 / quart, $22.00/ 1 Gallon, $40.00/ 2 Gallons, $20.00/ each additional gallon.
U-Pick price is $3.25 / quart, $13.00/1st and each additional gallon
Pre-picked price at the farm is and $4.25 / quart, $17.00/1st and each additional gallon
These prices are less than what you would pay for blackberries in the stores and they have not been shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles. The U-Pick price for a quart is about what you would pay for a pint in a store, and the Pre-Picked price for a quart at the farm is still less than a quart in a store would cost. Even at Farmers' Market prices we still beat store prices. Remember, Blackberries are best when just picked!!!
Our U-PICK schedule.
Customers are allowed to come and pick their own fruit at the farm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday,and Saturday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and noon. Other times can be arranged if you will contact us first. We try to avoid the heat of the day for picking. The field is mowed, and there are no thorns or chiggers. The only snakes we have ever seen in or near the field are black snakes or king snakes. Both kinds are good to have around because they eat mice and other rodents and if you have them you are very unlikely to have rattlers or copperheads. The plants are trellised so there is very little bending. If for some reason we cannot have a scheduled picking the farm gates will be closed. Please respect the signs and do not enter when no one is available to assist you. Thank you for your cooperation.
Directions to the Farm.
We are located between Yale and Stillwater, North of highway 51 on Mt. Vernon Road. Mt. Vernon is 3 miles west of the highway 51 and highway 18 intersection and approximately 13 miles east of Stillwater. There is a Mt. Vernon Street sign on the south side of 51 but you turn North and there is no street sign on the North. The farm is 1/2 mile north of 51 on the west side of Mt. Vernon Rd. There is a sign near the farm gate. There are 2 highway signs, green on the front and silver on the back, one on either side of highway 51, that make Mt. Vernon Rd. easy to find. The west bound sign reads LEAVING PAWNEE NATION. The east bound sign reads ENTERING PAWNEE NATION. They are directly across 51 from each other and can be seen from quite a distance Be sure to turn north just EAST of the 2 signs.
If you are coming from Tulsa, you can take the Cimarron expressway, i.e. 412 through Sand Springs, go west to the Keystone Dam exit, after crossing the dam, go west on Highway 51 and follow the west bound directions given above.
If you are coming from Stillwater take 6th street east and you will be on highway 51. Follow the east bound directions given above.
If you are coming from the north or south take highway 18 to the intersection of 18 and 51 and turn west. Follow the west bound instructions given above.
|Pickers Earn $$$||4th of July Special||You Pick Rules|
In the spring of 2006, our sons, David and Jonathan Ritchie decided they wanted to start a vineyard. They wanted to raise grapes, but the old folks have a soft spot for blackberries. Also we were coming out of a couple of very bad drought years, and blackberries are more hardy than grapes, and late Oklahoma freezes don't affect blackberries as badly as grapes. In the spring of 2006 we burned the field and started planting. We sometimes think we have done everything wrong at least once, but we must be learning, because God blessed us with a beautiful field and we had a bountiful harvest in 2008. In 2009 we had about 9000 lbs of blackberries that summer even with the hot weather in June. Fortunately we irrigated. After farmers' market sales, and U-Pick, we still had enough left to produce several bottles of wine. In 2009 we planted a cherry orchard of about 30 trees near the blackberry field. In a few years they should be producing. We also have 10 peach trees since the nursery sent us peach trees instead of cherry trees on one order. We planted them in the late fall, and they were just sticks so we did not know what we had. Anyway peaches will add variety. We planted a few plums, apricots and 16 pear trees. They should all be producing in a few years except the pears. Pears take a long time so we are planting those for some future generation to enjoy when we are dead and gone.
In 2010 we had a HUGE crop and our U-Pick operation is getting better each season. One really nice thing happened; the Stillwater News Press newspaper did a feature article about our farm. It was a great article and introduced many new people to picking blackberries without thorns and chiggers.
We got the berry processing house built and functional, although it is not really finished yet.
As I said earlier, we planted blackberries because they are hardy and can survive late freezes. We are about to find out if that is true. We had a VERY HARD freeze this last winter. It had started to warm up a bit, and then we got up one morning and the thermometer said -26 degrees!!! That is colder than any weather we have ever experienced in our lives. We have alot of die back from that freeze and the drought is taking its toll. We will see what this year is like. It will not be as productive as last year, but then maybe GOD is giving us a breather. HE knows what we can handle.
Speaking of handling, we have lost our Number One helper to California. We went into this operation in the hopes that our older son would be enticed to move back to Oklahoma from California. As it turns out the younger son moved to California in January. We don't blame him. He is an aerospace engineer and not really a farmer, and the job was too good to pass up. (Pays alot better too!)Back to top
Pictures From Our Past
Click on the small pictures on the left to see enlargements. Click the BACK arrow on your browser to return to this page.
|Stick your right hand in and this is what you get. This was taken June 28, 2008. This and the next picture show you just a little of what you can pick standing in one spot.|
|Stick you left hand in and this is what you get.|
|This is a close-up of the Triple Crown Blackberries blooming. We have 3 different varieties of thornless blackberrie, Apache, Ouachita, and Triple Crown. The Apache variety is more up right and produces big long berries. The Ouachita and Triple Crowns are similiar, but the Ouachita plants are more up right, and produce a little earlier than the Triple Crowns. The Triple Crowns are more trailing but HEAVY producers. They all produce an abundance of excellent juicy fruit during June and July.|
|This is a picture looking across the trellises. You can literally see the head of the Ritchie family just visible above the last row.|
|This shows the Triple Crown Blackberries still green in early June 2008, but they were heavy with ripe fruit by July. There are lots of all three varities.|
|This shows the apache blackberries turning red. They should be ripe by the 2nd or 3rd week of June.|
|This is a close-up of the Triple Crown Blackberries showing the 3 stages of ripening on the same plant.|
|A few blackberries on a checkered table cloth to show the size.|
|One of our thornless blackberries laying on one of our brochures, along with 8 native thorny blackberries picked nearby.|
|DeEtta came to pick and pick and pick!|
|Lucille and DeEtta came together to pick. Lucille says she froze her berries on a cookie sheet and she takes a few out, thaws them and they are just as good as fresh picked.|
|We package our berries in pints and quarts for resale in stores and at farmers' markets.|
|There were several people who braved the rain and came to pick 4 gallons for $40 on the 4th of July. The rain was pretty steady all morning, but there was no lightening and it was cool.|
|In the evening on July 4, 2009 we had a bonfire and fireworks. Seven of the grandkids were there and they loved it.|
|A pan full of berries taken out on the deck table.|
|One of our pickers was counting up their quarts picked.|
|After the wine party the family relaxed under the tent. It was nice weather, and the guest liked the open field.|
|This is a teaser of things to come in a few years. These are cherries picked from one of our Cherry trees. We have transplanted 10 of these cherry trees to the farm and have planted 30 other cherry trees in 2008. We hope to have you pick cherries, both pie cherries and dark red cherries in 3 or 4 years. We have also planted 16 pear trees and 12 plum trees.|
Oklahoma Farmers' Markets Where You can find Us.
We will probably attend only the Saturday morning Cherry Street Farmers' Market in Tulsa this year. Since there are just the 2 family members working the farm now it is very difficult for one of us to go to market and the other handle you-pick at the field. Our eventual goal is for us to have only you-pick or pre-picked berries sold at the field. If we decide to attend other markets we will post it here.Back to top
Jonathan Ritchie experimented making blackberry wine during the late summer and fall of 2008. He used several different recipes, including blackberry champagne type effervescent wine. The family sampled the various recipes and liked several of them. It is no secret that our family doesn't normally drink alcohol, so it is hard for us to tell what is good and what isn't. We have given away several samples to friends and family, and they all seem to like it. All have said they would buy it. Grandpa and Grandma like it best mixed with a little grapefruit juice--- gives it a tangy taste. It also was good to hear that red wine helps ward off Alzheimers disease. At our age we need all the help we can get. Since our sons have moved to California, we have decided not to get a winery license. If you are interested in making wine for yourself, it is a relatively simple process and legal to make for your own use. It doesn't take a whole lot of berries either. We have frozen berries to sell.
We are currently building a commercial kitchen where we have a walk-in refrigerator and a chest freezer. We are planning on selling frozen berries as long as the crop holds out. We have frozen lots of berries, and if you take out a few at a time and let them thaw, they taste just like fresh berries. They don't go mushy like strawberries.
2010 Picker Pictures We took pictures of several of our customers during the 2010 season. Most agree that Blackberry picking has never been easier or more fun, even if it did get alittle hot sometimes. Still working on getting the pictures up. Thanks to everybody who gave permission to use their pictures!!!!! Pictures of my garden. Still working on getting the pictures up. Contact Us You may call our cell phones at 918-605-6226 or 918-636-7214, or e-mail . Home Page Click on home page to return to the Ritchie Enterprises, L.L.C. website.
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2010 Picker Pictures
We took pictures of several of our customers during the 2010 season. Most agree that Blackberry picking has never been easier or more fun, even if it did get alittle hot sometimes. Still working on getting the pictures up. Thanks to everybody who gave permission to use their pictures!!!!!
Pictures of my garden. Still working on getting the pictures up.Back to top
You may call our cell phones at 918-605-6226 or 918-636-7214, or e-mail .
Click on home page to return to the Ritchie Enterprises, L.L.C. website.