Harvest Heritage: Big M Berry Patch

The Morning Show

CHRISTIAN COUNTY,Ill. (WCIA) — Most central Illinois farmers raise corn and soybeans and haul it to the elevator in the fall, but not this one.

Stu Ellis
Southwest of Taylorville, Mel Repscher has converted a 150 year old family farm into a thriving you-pick strawberry, pumpkin and summer produce operation…

Mel Repscher
In 1985, we started with about three acres of Strawberries and it was a tremendous success. The first year we had them we were sold out most of the time. So the next year we planted 2 more acres of strawberries. So we had 5 acres of strawberries and in 1987 we planted about 3 acres of asparagus on top of that. And we have expanded pretty much about every year since that timeframe, so now we have about 20 acres every year in berries or vegetables or pumpkins in the fall.

Stu Ellis
Agritourism boosts the business…

Mel Repscher
So we have the hayride out the patch where they pick their own pumpkins. And we have a playground area and a corn maze and a bale maze for the kids and its grown to be just about as big, if not bigger than the strawberry operation in the spring.

Stu Ellis
The summer produce heads into Taylorville

Mel Repscher
We try to grow enough of each commodity that we can just direct market it, that we don’t have to go through a wholesaler or a broker and that works really great that we can either sell it right here direct off the farm or at the Taylorville farmers market.

Stu Ellis
Wife Rita is used to the innovation…

Rita Repscher
It seems like he always finds something new or different to try or to expand on what we’ve already done in previous years

Stu Ellis
And says it is truly a family operation…

Rita Repscher
The grandkids they all help picking the tomatoes and all the other produce and lunch times like having a holiday out here all the time.

Stu Ellis
That’s our harvest heritage report. I’m Stu Ellis for WCIA3 your local news leader
 

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