A gravel pit adjacent to their family farm was a useless piece of land. In 2009, Don and Peggy Bucher decided to turn it into a berry farm in spite of recommendations otherwise due to high PH levels in the soil.
Undaunted, the property is now a sustainable three-acre oasis for berries, produce and a major event center. Built in 2017, the event center is adjacent to a one-acre pond and hosts a myriad of events for all ages.
Focus is on Berries
Peggy Bucher selected the farm’s blueberry plants to extend the produce through most of the summer. In 2009, she planted the first bushes that started producing in 2012.
The earliest producers are Patriot bushes, which sprout berries in late June. Blue Crop and Jersey bushes are ready for picking in July. Elliot bushes produce through Labor Day. Production from these maturing plants has doubled over the past three years.
Black Berry Hill is loaded with bushes producing huge, plump, ultra-sweet blackberries. Recently, more bushes were added to increase availability. Blackberries are ready for picking in mid-July and carry through early August.
Another addition to the farm is red and black raspberry bushes. These berries become available in late June.
Some of each of the berries are reserved to make jams and jellies for the farm store.
During the busy summer months, the U-pick theme is family-oriented. The store offers smoothies and ice cream with farm-produced berry toppings.
The farm also created a nature hunt for kids where they hide items in pine trees in and around the farm. This assures that the kids are well taken care of while adults pick.
Pickers are plopped in front of a loaded bush with a bucket and stool and have at it. Stools are available to sit on if needed.
Pick as much as you want because berries keep a week or more in the fridge and can be frozen for months without losing quality. Nothing is better than fresh-picked berries for jam, sauces, toppings and pies!
The Country Market
The centerpiece of the farm is the Blue Barn. Built in 2014, the barn offers produce from both the Bucher farm and selected local farmers.
On the shelves, are the farm’s own jams, jellies, multiple-flavored honeys, fresh-popped kettle corn, apple cider vinegar, salsa, brown eggs. peanut butter and maple syrup. When in season, the farm’s Ambrosia super-sweet corn and other vegetables are available.
The free-roaming chickens not only produce fresh eggs, but the gentle Isa Brown varietal are great for petting.
During these tough times, the farm has been delivering store items directly to customers.
The Event Center
Daughter Shanda Scheeren and husband Chris oversee event scheduling and management. Construction on the new event center was started in April 2016 and within six weeks hosted its first wedding. The family did all the painting and staining, and the whitewashed, barn-wood look fits perfectly with the rural setting.
The pavilion-style center has a capacity of around 200 and includes a bar area, a separate serving room, a large seating area and dance floor space. Events scheduled include charity, reunions, post-funeral gatherings, weddings and Christmas parties.
This year, 40 events are already scheduled including the farm’s annual open house. This is a grand event where the farm invites guest advisors to discuss every need. Usually scheduled in mid-April, Shanda may have to move it to May. Check the farm’s Facebook page for any event date changes.
During summer, the main event is the annual Blueberry Festival. Activities include a corn-hole tournament, vintage tractor show, tractor parade, people’s choice tractor award, artisan vendors, farm-to-fork food concessions, and goat petting, farm games and a bounce house for kids.
For smaller events, the Harvest Hall Event Room in the rear of the barn is available. The room can handle 50 people and features a full kitchen.
There is also a removable wall that opens to the north and overlooks the pond – making for a gorgeous back-drop for any meeting. Most common are cooking classes, corporate retreats and birthday parties.
This family team has the farm growing every year. Combining their talents, the Blue Barn Berry Farm has become a great family destination. Shanda Scheeren remarked: “The farm is growing, and we are having fun!”
Blue Barn Berry Farm: 9139 North 300 E (Dewart Lake Road), Syracuse.
Hours: vary seasonally.
Phone: (574) 742-2247.
Email: [email protected] .
Visitors can set their own agenda, and they will host occasional bus tours scheduled through the Kosciusko County Visitor’s Center.
Come and tour, shop, play, eat and/or pick. What a great way to spend a day in Lake Country!