BAD year for people, great year for berries!
This year, 2020, will go down in history with the World Wars and the Great Depression as one of our worst and most fearful years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But not so for berries… delicious boysenberries, youngberries, loganberries and silvan berries, all versions of blackberries but cultivated to reduce the brambles and enhance the taste and size.
And right now, up at Herbert Hill Berry Farm in Leongatha, they are absolutely flourishing.
“They come on about the first of December every year, except last year which was awful, and maybe we get through to Christmas or a bit after,” said the berryman, Dane Herbert.
“That’s it. For all the effort we only get three to four weeks out of it and they’re really fantastic right now.”
The only catch, and it’s a positive in some ways too, is you’ve got to pick them yourselves.
And don’t forget to bring the kids, they can pick too.
In fact, according to Dane, having kids picking is an advantage because they can see all the lovely, ripe fruit down below the knees that the adults have missed.
“They’re $10 a kilo picked by you but sometimes I think I should weigh the kids going out. They’re usually covered in it by the time they leave.”
Note to self: wear an old shirt.
There’s a fair chance they’ve popped a few in their mouths as they go as well.
“We get a lot of regulars each year and visitors too.
“It’s a bit of an outing and good for families. Some people like to show the kids where their food is coming from.”
After the berries are gone, in mid-January, the hardest job for the berry farmer is cutting back the old cane and stringing the new runners up ready for next year’s harvest.
“It’s a tough job but it’s got to be done.
“I think we’ve been here about 12 years now, taking it over from Jenny and Geoff Martin who planted them.”
Herbert Hill Berry Farm had a Department of Ag berry expert in a few years ago, and as well as being impressed with the health of the plants, he told the Herberts, Dane and Colleen, that there is no known disease for berries in Australia and somehow the birds also stay away.
So, get a bucket and head on up Shingler Street in Leongatha (next to Hartley Wells) and take the first right into Sawyer Street and go all the way to the bottom.
They’re open all day Saturday and Sunday and by appointment Monday to Friday (0407519131) just ring the bell on arrival.
They’re ready to pick now!