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Echo Springs Blueberry Farm is one of Texas Largest blueberry Farms and has over 50 acres of producing berry plants. Photo gallery here.

  • Blueberries from Echo Springs receive their superior taste from
    the labyrinth of natural fresh water springs flowing under the ground.

  • We at Echo Springs are proud of our reputation of having “Texas’ Finest Blueberries”, and we work hard to consistently maintain and present a superior blueberry farm.

  • Every year, Echo Springs attracts visitors from across the U.S. who come to pick or purchase our “Texas’ Finest Blueberries”.

Echo Springs Blueberry Farm is open to the public June and July. We look forward to sharing our blueberries with you. So, round up the kids, pack up the car and head out to the Piney Woods of East Texas to spend an unforgettable day at ECHO SPRINGS BLUEBERRY FARM.
 

It is located on FM 607, 4.5 miles South of Hwy 31, between Brownsboro and Murchison, Texas. “Texas Finest”

Read the newspaper article about Echo Springs Blueberry Farm below or online by clicking here.
 
BLUEBERRY'S PRESENCE INCREASES IN EAST TEXAS
 
By: KRISTI FLIPPIN, Staff Writer July 17, 2004
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Austyn Horvath, 9, holds some of the plump and sweet offerings at the farm. Horvath is the granddaughter of the farm's owners, who invite visitors to hand-pick berries or pick up a bucket of pre-picked. (Staff Photo By D.J. Peters)
 
An Echo Springs blueberry's life as we know it begins when it's planted in the sandy, acidic soil of East Texas.

Honeybees from all four corners of the Henderson County farm pollinate the bush, which has taken three years to grow to maturity. The blueberry has been nourished by the rich soil and the farm's spring-fed lake.

Finally, on a sunny May morning, the blueberry is ready to be plucked.

A "picker machine" trots down the rows of berry bushes, while its fiberglass rods gently shake the berries off the bush. They land on a track that conveys them into a tray-like container called a "lug."

The blueberry is then lugged to the factory line, where the dirt is shaken off. It then gets a dip in a bath of pure, cool water. A moment of tension arises as it passes under the eyes of workers who judge each berry for perfection. The green and purple berries don't make the grade.

(But fear not; those berries go to a winery to party with wrinkled grapes. No berries are wasted.)

The bluest of the berries fall gently into a 20-pound box, where they're either refrigerated or loaded onto a truck for the long ride to Waxahachie.

And then they've arrived; they'll soon be swimming in cereals, mixed in muffins and wallowing in waffles.

Some blueberries have a different destiny; they are picked by hand for fresh sales at East Texas Brookshire's and Kroger grocery stores.

Such is the life of an Echo Springs blueberry. This 55-acre farm, just south of Brownsboro, is one of the largest blueberry farms in Texas.

Owners Phyllis and Ivan Vaseleniuck are originally from the Rose Capital of Canada, Windsor, Ontario, but now they live 23 miles from the rose capitol of Texas. They say they knew nothing about growing blueberries, nor did they have any such aspirations. But when the couple happened upon the blueberry farm five years ago, when it was a mere 27 acres, they fell in love.

Now the couple and their farm manager, retired cop Rick Carver, are local experts at berry growing.

"Blueberries are a loner plant," said Mrs. Vaseleniuck. "They require very little maintenance, but a lot of worry."

The worrying starts in November, because the bushes must hibernate - they need a certain number of cold days, she explained. Of course, if there's too much cold weather, their caretakers can become anxious about frost until the end of April. By that time, the Vaseleniucks are worrying about hail, tornadoes, and this year - floods.

"All the rain in June was good for us, though," Mrs. Vaseleniuck said. "There usually wouldn't be this many berries still on the bushes."

The berries are at their peak from May through the end of July, but the operation requires constant attention.

"It's just a year-round occupation," Mrs. Vaseleniuck said. "If we are not picking, then we are pruning or weeding or replanting."

New this year at Echo Springs, families can visit the farm between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and pick their own five-quart bucket of blueberries for $10 per bucket.

"I hope people come out and pick, because I would hate to see food wasted," Mrs. Vaseleniuck said. "We could always freeze them to sell but they are so good fresh."

The blueberry industry throughout East Texas is bursting with flavor and profits, local growers say.

Trent Wickwire with the Texas Department of Agriculture said 11 farms in Smith County reported at least $1,000 in sales for 2003.

According to the TDA Web site, there are four blueberry farms in Henderson County, including Echo Springs, one in Van Zandt County and one farm in Cherokee County.

Across the state, blueberry sales in 2003 were up $100,000 from the year before, with $2.6 million in reported sales. Wickwire said that 760 acres of Texas farmland is devoted to blueberry growing. Smith County Extension Agent Brian Triplett added that most of the berries consumed in this region are grown right here in East Texas.

Bobby Perry has owned Deep Creek Farm in Smith County for 16 years and his blueberries go to HEB grocery stores.

The Blueberry Basket, near LaRue, offers six acres to pick your own. Grower Fred Ware said his berries do well in East Texas because the area has the perfect combination of water and acidic soil.

"The blueberries also like the heat," he said.

Ware's berries can be found on the shelves of Albertson's and Whole Foods in the Metroplex, he said.

Larry Reynolds, the owner of Tyler Berry Farms, sells his blueberries to Super 1 Foods and the Potpourri House, but many of his berries are picked by visitors.

"It's a good place for the city-slickers to come on out," Reynolds said. "They come from miles and miles: Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco."

His farm is located on County Road 429, just off U.S. Highway 69 near Tyler.

Blueberry Hills Farm, near Edom, also markets to visitors.

"This place is great for a day trip," owner Chuck Arena said.

Linda Barron sells her berries from Barron's Blueberries Farm at the Tyler Farmer's Market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The farm also allows people to fill their own buckets for $8.

"When we first started, everyone made fun of us, but now we run to the bank," she said, estimating she sells about 12,000 pounds of blueberries each year.

Triplett notes the East Texas blueberry industry is quite stable for an area where the blues are not native.

An additional boost to the business is the healthfulness of the berries, the subject of several recent studies.

Mandy Jefferson, a dietitian with the Wisenbaker Diabetes Center at Mother Frances Hospital, said blueberries have antioxidants called flavinoids that fight the free radicals that can cause cancer.

Blueberries are known to help prevent Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular diseases.

"It's nature's chemotherapy," grower Arena said.

Most farms in the area are open until the beginning of August. For more information on blueberry farms, visit the TDA Web site, www.agr.state.tx.us/picktexas.

 

 

 

 

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