Ever since I moved to this area of Kansas City, I’ve wanted to experience The Berry Patch.
Nestled just outside the honking city and barely over the state line into Missouri, The Berry Patch offers fresh bounty from God’s earth as well as a respite for this particular farm girl.
It began in 1975, as a farm for peaches and then blackberries. Both crops died. Then by accident – one of those accidents in life that remind us God loves to plant surprises – the owners began planting and harvesting blueberries.
Now over 10,000 customers come each year to pick their own berries, buy the specialty treats in the country store and enjoy the picnic areas. www.theberrypatchonline.com
But for this particular author, The Berry Patch was more than just an opportunity to pick fresh blueberries and enjoy the country – it represented another research trip centered around my main character.
If you haven’t yet read the book, one of the themes you will find in “The Unraveling of Reverend G” is how much she loves blueberries. She globs them all over cheesecake at her retirement party, heaps them onto her oatmeal and (here’s a clue in the third book of the series) … Reverend G wakes up one morning with a terrible craving for those tiny blue dots.
So to replenish my own stock of berries and to do a bit of research, I drove out to The Berry Patch. The drive itself was enough to convince me this needed to be an annual adventure. Large acreages with winding roadways that ended in beautiful scenic homes, a man-made lake with happy ducks and colorful boats sharing its tranquility, a herd of black angus – slowly digesting the summer grass.
I joined other berry pickers by checking in and getting my buckets. A large wooden sign gave directions to the best patches for picking on that particular day as well as instructions on how to pick – palms up and carefully, so as not to squish the berries and end up with purply-stained fingers.
I learned that the reddish berries are more tart – great for cooking but not so much for eating fresh from the bowl. The darker berries are best, so I looked for dark ones about the same diameter as a dime.
What I also learned about was the over-30 varieties of blueberries. The Berry Patch includes several: Blue Crop, Duke and Liberty, to mention a few.
Birds chirped around me as I picked, my straw hat protecting me from the morning sun. Families with little children used the day as an outing and a teaching opportunity. I heard one teenager in the patch behind me say, “I’m from the inner city of St. Louis, for Pete’s sake. I don’t know how to pick something off a bush and eat it.”
But this farm girl from Oklahoma sure knows how to eat from the land, and now I have several pounds of fresh blueberries in my freezer – just waiting to plump up my gluten free pancakes or decorate my steel cut oats.
After I paid for my berries and transported them to the car, I took off my hat, fluffed up my hair and sought out the manager for a chit-chat about a certain fictional character and how her book might sell in the country store.
Sure enough, we struck a deal and “The Unraveling of Reverend G” is now for sale at The Berry Patch.
So you never know what might happen on a Saturday morning when you’re looking for an adventure outside of the city. You might have a fun time picking blueberries, meet some nice folks from all over the place, enjoy the sights and smells of a country store and at the same time – market your book.
©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” http://amzn.to/11QATC1