- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
The media is always trying to capture the thought of readers by asking if the economy is rebounding or if it is still flat lining. In the midst of all the hype of economy failure and unemployment rate and foreclosures, has it brought the American people back to what matters, the simple things in life, fulfilling dreams, creating memories and spending time with family. In a way it has, with less money to entertain ourselves we have to strive to find ways to make life worth living, and see the glass as still half full as our four fathers did. We have all heard our grandparents talk about the good old days and how their family had nothing, but still found simply pleasures in Sunday drives and spending time on the farm. Even if your family doesn’t have a farm, we have plenty here in the Ozarks to visit that is sure to create memories for the whole family, one being the Anderson’s Blueberry Farm.
Dr. Eric Anderson, owner of the Anderson’s Blueberry Farm, went to medical school in 1952 at Washington University after applying and being accepted to St. Louis University twice. Eric spent four years in Germany and served two and a half years in World War II and lived in several other states, before making the move to the Ozarks on Glade Top Trail. His dream was to move here and grow grapes not blueberries. At the time, Dr. Eric Anderson was a part time physician at St. John’s Clinic here in Ava. He made the decision to seek advice from the people at the Experimental Fruit Station in Mountain Grove. They made the suggestion that he should not only plant grapes, but also blueberries and thornless raspberries and blackberries.
After much devastation and several bouts with disease, Eric gave up on the grapes and turned his attention to the blueberries. He planted three different varieties of blueberries and well over 150 bushes on 5 acres of his land. These are the same bushes producing blueberries to this day. Eric put in an irrigation system that was used when he first started the planting, but says now he no longer uses it. Eric says the plants are very hardy and take very little maintenance. The plants need an acidy soil so he puts Aluminum Sulfate on the bushes twice a year along with Triple 13 Fertilizer, that’s pretty much it besides nature’s watering.
Dr. Anderson sells blueberries to the public. Families can come out and pick there own blueberries, ten dollars for a gallon or fifteen dollars pre-picked. He says he sells several gallons in Springfield. He has sold over 350 gallons this year with over a week left in picking season. The picking season typically starts the last week in May and runs the whole month of June and sometimes even until the first week of July.
Eric sees many familiar faces, as it seems that he has a lot of returning customers and families each year. He finds it to be rewarding to know that many of these families consider it a tradition to go out and pick these sweet succulent berries.
Now that Dr. Anderson is getting older, he recruits help from his family during blueberry season. Eric’s sons, Bradley and Wayne, along with his wife, Janice, and Wayne’s children, Bradley, the twins; Stephanie and Spencer, and sister, Carol have been out at the family farm picking and helping this year. This is the second year the twin grandchildren have helped. They both graduated from Kickapoo High School in Springfield last year as Valedictorians of their class. They were the first twins to ever accomplish this honor from Kickapoo, which allowed them a spot on Kickapoo’s Wall of Fame. Stephanie commented that she actually looks forward to spending time on the farm and she has such great memories of time there when she was growing up, something she hopes can be passed on. She says there is something very therapeutic about picking blueberries.
When Dr. Anderson was asked about future plans for the blueberry farm, he commented by saying it is to be left to his son, who shows great interest in keeping it going. Dr. Eric Anderson was also quizzed on his favorite blueberry recipe in which he replied that he does enjoy them plain or on cereal and a blueberry muffin is always good. He commented by saying it takes so many berries to make a cobbler, so why waste them all in one eating when you can freeze them and enjoy them all summer and winter long.
So no matter how bad things seem, remember that there is a full glass of excitement just waiting to quench your thirst. Create memories for your family and take a trip to Anderson’s Blueberry Farm.