Friday, June 6, 2014

Totally Texas -- How to tame a wild berry

The June 2014 copy of Country Living magazine arrived in my mailbox this week, with a front page feature on ice cream. (And gelato and frozen yogurt, but to the boys they’re all “ice cream.” They’ll go to a yogurt store and ask for ice cream, not meaning any disrespect.)

And I remembered my ice cream maker, which has languished too long. Because, really, nothing’s better than ice cream (or gelato, etc.) you’ve made yourself. And nothing, absolutely nothing’s better than homemade ice cream with summer’s fresh fruit. And do I even need to say that no fruit’s better than that you’ve picked with your own juice-stained hands?

The boys were still in school, so I made the trip by myself this week to the pick-you-own blackberry patch at Ham Orchards in Terrell. It was filled with families whose kids were already out of school.

Ham Orchards’ blackberries are far more civilized that the berry bushes I remembered from my own childhood. Modern pick-your-own blackberry farmers train their berries on trellises to make the berries easier to find and minimize thorns. I still suggest some degree of protective clothing--closed toe shoes, long sleeves, and hats. Hats not just as sunshades but as armor against loose branches, like the one that entangled itself in my hair.

Some pickers suggested gloves. Be sure they’re washable!

Ham Orchards, also famous for its peaches, has plenty of produce in stock in its on-site store, including blackberries. It’s located at 11939 County Road 309, three miles east of Terrell. Follow the signs on I-20 and I-80 east from Dallas. It’s open until mid-August, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but by the end of June, the blackberries will be gone for another year. See the website,, for prices and information about its store and open-air restaurant. I’ve also found its Facebook page helpful for daily updates on produce.


In East Texas, Blueberry Hill Farms in Canton also reports blackberries ready to pick, with blueberries not expected until early July. It’s currently open Friday through Sunday, 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. The website is, but also see its Facebook page.

Sad to say, the Duck Creek Blackberry Farm in Sanger reports berries very sparse due to a mid-April freeze. See or Facebook for updates.

And for something not entirely different, the Savannah’s Meadow pick-your-own lavender farm in Celeste is open Saturdays and Sundays this month from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. It hosts a lavender festival next Saturday, June 14. See, for information. Lavender ice cream, anybody?

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