By KELSY LORIN TAYLOR
Web Editor and Feature Writer
SUMMER FUN: Paula and Bill Jacobs are looking forward to the remainder of this year’s berry season. They have been welcoming visitors to the farm to pick berries for over 22 years.
KELSY LORIN TAYLOR for GTR Newspapers
Paula and Bill Jacobs have enjoyed welcoming visitors to the Owasso Tree and Blackberry Farm for many years. Having established rows of Christmas trees over 22 years ago, the Jacobs decided to create a summer activity for both themselves and the community to enjoy. Soon, the rows of Christmas trees were surrounded with acres of blackberries.
The farm offers visitors the opportunity to pick blackberries in a beautiful setting. “Visitors can come here to pick berries, get back to the country and hear the birds sing,” describes Bill. There are currently five acres of blackberries on the farm. The rows are wide and the berries are mulched for moisture and temperature control. The fields are mowed every week and the bushes are constantly pruned to deter snakes and chiggers from the area. Some of the very first visitors to the farm were residents of the Owasso Baptist Retirement Home. Many had grown up picking berries and welcomed the opportunity to relive their memories.
Bill explains that in recent years, “younger generations have enjoyed bringing their children to the farm as a family experience. The visit is a way to show the children that berries do not come in a box but off of a plant.”
The Jacobs feel that there are many rewarding aspects of owning the Owasso Tree and Berry Farm. “There is a lot of gratification in getting to know the individuals that return to the farm year after year,” states Paula. Bill adds that it is also very rewarding to care for and grow a fruit that will be appreciated and enjoyed by others. There are three varieties of blackberries at the Owasso Tree and Berry Farm including the Kiowa, Chickasaw and Ouachita. This year, the Jacobs have incorporated the thornless Natchez into their own garden and may decide to offer the variety along with the others in a future season.
All of the varieties were grown and patented by the University of Arkansas. “A professor there once stated that the blackberry is a Native American plant and should be honored with a Native American name,” notes Bill.
In preparation for each season, honeybees are brought in to pollinate the blackberries Bill explains. “Most fruits are pollinated by honeybees and if there aren’t any left then there won’t be fruit. The honey is taken from the hives following pollination and labeled as blackberry honey. We have numerous sized jars of the honey available at the farm.”
Oklahoma Agritourism, which promotes farm destinations, selected the Owasso Tree and Berry Farm as a stop along a tour of the northeastern part of the state. The Jacobs are looking forward to meeting with other members of the organization and sharing ideas about agriculture.
The blackberries are available for six to eight weeks beginning in early June. The farm is open every other day to allow time for the berries to ripen. The mornings are the best time to pick the berries because the temperatures are cooler and the berries are perishable.
For additional information, visit www.owassochristmastreefarm.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (918) 272-9445.