Since 1984, the Rouster’s Apple House in Williams Corner has maintained a tradition of allowing people to pick their own blueberries and blackberries.
“People can come here with nothing but the desire to pick their own berries,” said orchard owner Dan Rouster. “We provide everything else. The buckets, the containers, the bags, and the trays are all provided. We even show people where to pick.”
Rouster’s grows apples and peaches as well, but only the berries are a you-pick and according to Rouster, the people come out in droves to do it.
“On opening pick day, we estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 people came to pick in the first four hours,” Rouster said while walking in between the 25 acres of berry orchard rows. “Every year it is the same. We have a lot of repeat people and it amazes us that people love doing this.”
According to Rouster, several tons of berries are picked every season.
“We started the blueberry season on July 2 and that is starting to wind down now. Blackberries are starting today and the berry supplies should run until the end of August.”
There were approximately 75 people picking their own berries on Aug 4.
“There are many reasons why people like to pick their own fruit,” he said. “Most importantly you cannot get them any fresher than off the plant. If the berries are picked correctly, you get a better flavor fruit.”
Rouster, who lives on the farm with his wife and business partner Donna, says that there is an educational and social reason as well.
“It is really about the experience. Kids can learn that berries do in fact come off a plant and not a grocery store shelf. So kids are learning while they are having some fun.”
“It is also a healthy, family, social thing. Anyone can pick berries. It is a great thing to do with the kids in the summer. We try and make it a nice place to come out for the whole family and I have customers that come up to me all the time thanking me for growing them and providing them with a fun family activity.”
According to Rouster, the only concern for the seasonal berry crops would be hail, frost, and birds. All of the berry crops are irrigated as to eliminate any fear of drought.
“Droughts will never be a problem to spoil the pick-your-own season,” Rouster said. “Irrigation ensures that. It is the one thing that I have complete control over.”
Miami Township residents Brian and Kelly Osborne were picking berries with their three-year old son Braden.
“Well, this one (Braden) loves all berries and can eat us out of house and home with blueberries,” said Kelly Osborne. “This is a family thing today. It is fun and different and we like doing it.”
Anyone interested in picking their own berries can call Rouster’s Apple House at (513) 625-5504 for times and availability. The other farm in Clermont County that has a pick your own season is the Pringles Orchard in Stonelick Township.