When Amy and Gabe Craighead bought 22 acres of land in Fulton, Missouri, they knew they wanted to revitalize the tired soil. In 2012, the couple planted an acre of blueberry bushes, breaking ground on what would become Danamay Farm, their U-pick berry patch.
Now heading into their fifth season (which usually runs from mid-June to late July), the Craigheads are continuing their mission to bridge the gap between consumers and producers in the agriculture industry by welcoming people to experience blueberry and blackberry harvest firsthand. You can also find Danamay berries (and honey, when available) at the Columbia Farmers Market in Columbia, Missouri, in the summer months.
Tell us about the farm’s U-pick experience. We’re pretty laid back and casual, so as far as what to expect, tasty fruit and a fun experience. We want to be a haven when people come out, a place where they can enjoy nature. We have a little wildflower native meadow and honey bees, so we try to create a special environment.
Why did you decide to raise bees? My dad raised bees a long time ago, and I knew that we would have to have some kind of pollinators here, so we started keeping bees about the time we planted our blueberries. We currently have seven hives – we fluctuate between six and 10, usually.
What's the story behind the farm's name, Danamay? My mom came up with that when I was little. I’m one of seven, and the three younger ones are Daniel, Amy and Clay, and so when my mom would holler at us, it kind of sounded like “Danamay!”
What have you learned in your first five seasons? We knew that it would be a lot of work, but until you’re in it, you don’t have a complete idea of how much work goes into a berry farm. We really love having people come out – that’s what makes all the hard work worth it, when you see little kids running around and enjoying it, and families being here together. And people learning where their food comes from, where berries come from and how they grow. We’ve had people come out before and say, “We thought blueberries just came in a plastic container from the grocery store.” And we have the opportunity to respond with, “Well actually, they come from a bush!” Berries are a small piece of the food industry, but just that little bit opens their eyes more to the whole process.
Danamay Farm, 4091 County Road 210, Fulton, Missouri, danamayfarm.com