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Berries are abundant at Blue House Farm

Posted: July 6, 2014 - 12:00am
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Gavin Helbley, 5, helps pick blueberries at Blue House Farm in Harlem. Owners Louis and Janice Newsome have 350 blueberry bushes in addition to blackberries and muscadine grapes, which will be ripe in August.    Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Gavin Helbley, 5, helps pick blueberries at Blue House Farm in Harlem. Owners Louis and Janice Newsome have 350 blueberry bushes in addition to blackberries and muscadine grapes, which will be ripe in August.

The blue house on Old Blythe Road sits just off of the street and is surrounded on one side by a field of zinnias and sunflowers, while on the other side rows and rows of blueberry and blackberry bushes are filled with berries.

At first glance, it’s just a quintessential peak into country living, but a longer stop at Blue House Farm in Harlem leaves visitors feeling like longtime friends of owners Louis and Janice Newsome.

You see, the Newsomes, both retired teachers, decided five or six years ago to plant some blueberry bushes. The hopes were that, as they were looking ahead to retirement, they could turn a hobby of growing berries into a small profitable business. Little did they know how much work would go into actually building the business.

“I didn’t think it would take quite this long to get the bushes to this size,” said Louis, who notes that this is the first year he and his wife have invited the public to come out to the farm. “We didn’t want it to be a bad experience for the customers, so we decided to wait until the bushes were bigger and had more berries.”

Blue House Farm has already been open for four weeks and the Newsomes expect to be open for a few more weeks until all of the berries have been picked over.

“A lot of people call and check for availability and that’s been real helpful insofar as the blackberries,” said Janice. “Blackberry season is practically over.”

In addition to their 350 blueberry bushes and 300 blackberry bushes, the Newsomes also have 150 muscadine grape vines.

“I don’t know if we are going to expand too much more,” said Louis. “We are kind of at the point where this is what my wife and I can handle and this is a good fit.

“We’re not really looking to grow,” he added. “If we did anything, we would probably put in a few more blackberries in order to meet the demand.”

What the Newsomes most enjoy about their work at Blue House Farm is meeting the people who stop by for a visit.

“We enjoy the folks so much,” said Louis. “They have some of the nicest, most well-behaved kids. I didn’t know there were any left.”

With a chuckle, he quickly adds that with the transient military population in the area, conversations often turn to, “Where are you from originally?”

“Just last week, we had visitors from Australia, Austria and England,” he said.

While the Newsomes admit that the business is a lot of work, they also acknowledge that it’s enjoyable.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s kind of like a lot of other things,” explained Louis. “You pick something you enjoy and it makes it a little easier.”

To plan your visit to this little slice of heaven right in the heart of Columbia County, you’ll need to know that Blue House Farm is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information about availability, call the Newsomes at (706) 699-0762 before making the trip.

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