Sweet, ripe blueberries are a sure sign of spring and summertime, and in Williston, one farm is bringing the berry to the forefront.
Red, White & Blues Farm is a family-owned commercial and U-pick blueberry farm sitting on 100 acres. The operation is run by father-and-son team Terry and Devon Robinson.
“We started the farm in 2010 after moving to Central Florida,” Devon says. “My dad, Terry, really spearheaded the blueberry idea and he started learning more about them and how to grow them. Now, we have 43 acres of blueberry production and produce about 300,000 pounds per year.”
Some of those berries are grown for commercial wholesale and Devon says they’re shipped to northern markets, like New York, Boston and Chicago, then distributed to grocery stores. To help keep the farm vertically integrated, the Robinsons added their own packing facility in 2015.
“We decided that we wanted to handle our fruit ourselves and have more control over how the product was packed and shipped,” Devon says. “2016 was the first year we ran our own fruit with the new packing facility.”
Harvest season begins in early spring and runs into June. Red, White & Blues Farm grows eight different varieties of blueberries, including sweetcrisp, springhigh, primadonna, emerald, Windsor, farthing, meadowlark and jewel.
Devon says that while he and his father are a team, he deals more with the commercial side of things, growing the fruit, harvesting, overseeing the packing facility and working with customers, while Terry is more involved in the agritourism side of the operation.
Buckets of Berries
Families come from all over the state to experience Red, White & Blues Farm’s agritourism activities, which include pick-your-own berries, a swing set and playhouse for the kids, plus an on-site farm store and cafe. The cafe serves homemade blueberry baked goods and beverages – like blueberry lemonade, blueberry slushies and blueberry milkshakes – and lots of other blueberry goodies for purchase.
“Agritourism is definitely an evolving factor for our farm,” Devon says. “Farmers are having to be more innovative and creative with how they bring in income. We tried to create a family environment on our farm and have been very blessed that people love coming from all over. They love coming to the U-pick then having lunch at our cafe.”
He adds that once they started down the agritourism path, other ideas popped up.
“Once you start, you start thinking of other fun things to do,” Devon says. “We want to create an experience while making sure we stay true to ourselves and what we specialize in.”
With its idyllic location, the farm has also started offering event booking, including weddings, parties and more.
A Chance for Education
Along with a fun day on the farm, Devon says that inviting consumers to their operation is a great way to educate people about how their food is grown as well as the variety of career opportunities available in agriculture.
“People are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and who’s growing it – knowing your farmer is important,” he says. “Education is important to us. We work hand in hand with the University of Florida, do a lot of field trips and teach people about the different perspectives of farming. Even if people don’t want to get their hands in the dirt, there are a lot of roles that need to be filled like marketing, apparel, agritourism, the bakery, etc. We strive to do things the right way.”
Devon says he, like many farmers, is proud to work the land and to be able to share his passion with the community.
“We’re just the caretakers of the land; we don’t own it,” he says. “God owns it. We love our land, our country, and our red, white, and blues.”
If You Go
Red, White & Blues Farm is open for U-pick the first weekend of April into the first week of June, Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3250 NE 140th Ave., Williston
As always, please call ahead to confirm hours and availability.