On sunny days this week, you'll find people hunched over between rows of strawberry plants, hands intertwined with vines, as they gingerly search for sun-ripened fruit at Boz’s Berry Farm.
The U-pick farm in Republic, Missouri, opened last week for the season, which usually lasts for four to six weeks.
“We had 21 cars in the parking lot before we even opened,” says Rick Bosworth, who owns the farm with his wife, Debbie. “By about 10:04am, all those people were in the field picking. They were picking flats in about 20 minutes. We were busy all day.”
This year, Boz's has 40,000 plants in the field. In a good year, a plant will yield one pound, yet a bad year may only bring in half a pound. At Boz's, U-pick berries are available for $2.50 per pound and prepicked berries are sold for $3.25 a pound. The prepicked berries must be reserved in advance, though, as the farm has a long list of clients to supply. Rick says Chandler, a sweet berry, is the main species of strawberry grown at the farm. And because the farm doesn't use pesticides, visitors can snag a berry off the vine and pop one in their mouth.
The Bosworths both worked in the medical field in 2006 before purchasing the land, which was formerly a dairy farm, as a retirement project. Rick retired three years ago as a pharmacist and Debbie still works as a nurse. Now, the couple owns 10 acres, 2.5 acres of which they converted into the U-pick strawberry farm. Initially, they grew hay but as hay prices dropped, decided to plant a cash crop. An avid gardener, Rick thought the farm would be a seasonal project, but it has quickly grown into a full-time endeavor.
“I didn’t expect it to be quite as much work,” he says. “I thought it would be work in fall and spring, but it’s year-round. You are always watching the plants; checking to make sure they don’t have diseases. When spring is done, you have mow them down, till up the ground. We try to use organic techniques. We put in cowpeas and they will grow and we mow them and till them and that gives us natural organic fertilizer.”
Aside from strawberries, the Bosworths also sell a delicious and refreshing Boz’s Slushie, made with their strawberries, as well as honey from bees they raise; and and jams. This year, they hope to welcome even more visitors to the farm.
“We had a lot more enthusiasm and people calling us this year,” Rick says. “They want to get in the field. Their friends have gone and they want to come.”
During strawberry season, the Boz's Berry Farm Facebook page is updated daily with picking times and hours.
Boz’s Berry Farm, 13920 W. State Highway TT, Republic, Missouri, facebook.com/BozsBerryFarm