Friday, July 5, 2013

H & H Berry Farms, Montverde, Fla: Blackberries & More, Updated

Blackberry picking without thorns can be fun. It is even better if there is a high concentration of berries in a small area. This was the case at H & H Berry Farms in Montverde, Florida, just north of Orlando. The 15 acre property has half an acre of thornless blackberries set right next to Country Road 455.

Front to back Amber Herndon, Richard Hoffman, and Wesley Herndon of
H & H Berry Farms, Montverde, Fla.
The Hoffman family started growing citrus 25 years ago. “We had beautiful, large tangerines,” said farmer Richard Hoffman, “but we could not find anybody that would buy them.” So his children sold tangerines at a road stand on weekends. They saved enough money to put both of them through University. “They got their education from citrus,” said Hoffman with a big smile.

Three years ago H & H Berry Farms started growing blackberries with thorns, “They were sweeter than the thornless,” said daughter Amber Herndon. But they were harder to pick so the family switched to growing thornless blackberries.  
Concentrated growth thornless blackberry vines at H & H Berry
Farms, Montverde, Fla.
“Most of the people that come here are Mamas and Grandparents teaching their children to pick,” said Hoffman. They get customers from Winter Haven, Vero Beach, and Orlando. “We try to be open every other day. When the berries get ripe they only stay on the vine a day or two,” said Hoffman.
Ripe thornless blackberries at H & H Berry Farms,
Montverde, Fla.
They hand-pick the weeds between blackberry vines, “We don’t want any chemicals on them. I want people to eat as they pick,” said Hoffman.
Son-in-law Wesley Herndon invited me to try a fresh berry from a basket of fruit he had picked earlier in the day. I chose a berry and he said, “No, go for the one with big sacs, they’re juicier and better.” So I chose another berry with bigger sacs and found it was sweeter than I expected.
As I was paying for my u-pick berries I asked Hoffman if his children had any interest in farming. Amber answered, “We’re invested in the farm,” pointing to herself and her husband. Her Marketing Degree is coming in handy for promoting the farm. “Next year we’ll have one and half acres of blueberries.”
H& H Berry Farms also had u-pick tomatoes and citrus. Their u-pick blackberry price was $4/lb and we-pick is $5/lb. 
They are normally open May to June but call for more details 321-436-5830. The farm is located at 15217 C.R. 455 Montverde, FL 34756
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