The Blooms and the Bees: Our Friendly Pollinators

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Our farm has been blessed with a large amount of natural pollinators; however, as is for the case for so many other farmers across the country, our bees continue to dwindle. So this year, we invested time into increasing our bumblebee population.
 
Bumblebees, you ask?! WHY? Well, although there are far more honey bees available, bumblebees can pollinate many more flowers. They pollinate more, because with their fast wing speed and big bodies, they vibrate the flowers, causing them to release more pollen (this is called, appropriately, “buzz pollination”), which helps plants produce more fruit.
 
It’s true they may look more menacing, but they’re actually far more docile than most honey bees, and considerably less likely to sting. In fact, male bumblebees don’t even have stingers.
 
The bumblebees have been hard at work, and unlike honeybees, they don’t mind working in the rainy cool days. They’re hilarious to watch fly, they somehow seem to defy everything we know about gravity and aerodynamics and just fly anyway. Apparently bumblebees flap their wings back and forth, instead of up and down, and that’s why this big round, disproportionally-sized bee can fly.
 
If you find one flying around you, just stand still. It’ll fly away as soon as it determines you’re not a flower. Come berry-picking time, the bees will be off pollinating somewhere else. Once all the blossoms are gone, the bees will be too. And then it will be almost time for you to join us at the farm! Bees do an important job, and we’re grateful for their help. 

So. Much. Rain. (But the Berry Bushes are Happy!)

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Last spring was so dry — drought in so many areas — and this year? Rain, rain, rain. We can’t recall three straight days that didn’t include some amount of rain, including one day recently where it came down for somewhere around 12 hours.
 

 

But we do like rain. The early cool and damp spring helped develop an excellent crop of berry buds.
 
Each bush has lots and lots of healthy buds that have opened well as we’ve started to see a few days of sunshine. 
 

Healthy buds mean healthy blossoms, and about 2-3 weeks ago we began to see the first pink pedals of flowers developing as the buds cracked open.
 
Pink pedals quickly develop into little white flowers, and seemingly overnight, the bushes appeared covered with blossoms.
 
In a couple of days we’ll share some about the bees who help pollinate our plants, making sure we get to savor those berries we love so much.
 
 
 
 

Welcome Back to Blueberry Season!

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The 2019 season is just around the corner, or should we say… just around the rain cloud?
 
If you’re here, hopefully you’ve noticed that registration is now open for the 2019 berry-picking season, which runs from early-mid June through July. The first berries are usually ripe within the first week of June. Check out our How to Purchase page to sign up!
 
We’re as excited as you for the season to get open and on its way. Stay tuned in the next few days for a couple of updates from the farm about the blooms and the bees!
 
If you didn’t come out and pick last year, you will notice our reservation system has a little different look to it, and from the feedback we heard last year, it’s now much easier to use than in years past. We hope you’ll agree. More information to come, but the berries do go fast, so make your reservations early so you’ll be sure to get what you want. Berries do freeze well, so keep that in mind also.
 
We’re sad to say that our longtime partner Morning Harvest Farms has decided to turn a new page in their lives, and its owners have entered some strange realm called retirement. We are certainly going to miss them on many fronts but we wish them the best in their new adventures. Beginning this year, blueberries will be available from the following venders and locations:
 
We are also accepting orders now for our Order & Pickup service. Place your orders now, and we’ll notify you in early June when the first berries ripen.
 
If you prefer to Pick Your Own, we’re excited to get to see you again this year, and our days of operation will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday for reservations. The reservation process is to ensure there are enough ripe berries available for you on the day you’re out, and that it’s a fun and pleasant picking experience without too many people on any given day.
 
As always, this is a really busy time of the year for us as we prepare for the season. We appreciate all the calls and comments we’re getting, but if you call or text, and don’t hear back from us right away, please be patient, and know that we’ll respond when we can.
 
We’re looking forward to seeing all our “Berry Good Friends” at the farm again this season.
 
And as always,
Thanks for Picking Us!
 
Your friends at Chautauqua Hills Farm…

How to Register to Pick or Order Berries!

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As you may have noticed, we’ve made some changes to the website, and we wanted to provide you with updated information (note: this post was originally made in 2018, but is current for 2019) on how to sign up for berry-picking reservations, as well as register for order & pickup.

Picking Reservation Instructions

Step 1: Start by selecting the How to Purchase at the top of the page.


Step 2: If you select Pick Your Own, you’ll be directed to the page below. Click on the View Calendar Here button in the middle of the page, where you’ll be directed to the calendar.


Step 3: Select the day you’d like to pick from the days available (Thursday – Saturday, in season).


Step 4: Complete the form directly below the calendar.


Step 5: Make sure you enter the four digit code that is displayed (YZRR in the example above) before you hit the send button.

It’s that easy. We’ll check your reservation request, make sure it’s a valid day and that we have plenty of ripe berries available for you, and then will send you a confirmation email (it may take us up to 24 hours to respond).

Along with your confirmation email, you’ll receive information and directions to our farm. You’re all set!

We’ll see you at the farm.

Order & Pick Up Instructions

Placing an order? Equally easy to do. From the How to Purchase page, select Order & Pick Up:


Scroll to the bottom of the page, and enter your information.


Complete your information, including how many gallons of blueberries you’d like to purchase, and submit. Done!

Thank you again for choosing Chautauqua Hills Farm for your naturally-grown blueberries.

We hope you find the changes to our site an improved experience, but as always we’d love to hear your feedback.

Hello, Spring 2018!

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Yes, it’s officially Spring 2018.

Thanks for all the calls and comments that are starting to come in as the cold days disappear and are replaced by … sunshine! warmth! birds chirping! buds!

2018_buds
We’ve been working hard to get our pruning finished to ensure we have a strong crop of berries for this summer’s harvest, and while doing so, we’ve observed plenty of good bud production.

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As many of you know, blueberry plants set their buds in the fall, and barring any really nasty winter weather, remain dormant until late March or early April. This year’s bud production looks to be shaping up really well.

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We planted another 125 bushes last fall, and even though it’s been a particularly dry winter, they’re showing a lot of promise. If you recall, we also planted over 300 new plants in 2015, and from early observation, they should contribute to this year’s harvest.

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We’re as excited as you for the season to get open and on its way.

Our reservation system will have a little different look to it this season, but beginning May 1st, it will be open for reservations. More information to come, but the berries go fast, so make your reservations early so you’ll be sure to get what you want.

If you prefer to use our Order & Pickup Service, place your order early in May. Then in June, when the first berries ripen, you can pick up your berries at any of these convenient locations:

If you prefer to pick your own, we’re excited to get to see you again this year, and our days of operation will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday for reservations. The reservation process is to ensure there’s enough ripe berries available for you on the day you’re out, and that it’s a fun and pleasant picking experience without too many people on any given day.

As always, this is a really busy time of the year for us as we prepare for the season, so if you call or text, and don’t hear back from us right away, please be patient, and know that we’ll respond when we can.

We’re looking forward to seeing all our “Berry Good Friends” at the farm! Spread the word, and bookmark our website and Facebook page to stay up-to-date on farm news and the season opening!

We’re “Berry” Close! Reservations Open May 1st!

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The 2017 berry season is fast approaching, and we’re excited to finally have an update for you!

Did we even have winter this year? It was so mild, it was quick, it was warm, and there was very little moisture! Drought and wildly swinging temperatures were the norm, and then seemingly overnight, spring arrived.

The beginning of April brought over 2” of rain, added to the rain we received earlier that week, and we’re about even for the season. The berries are loving it. You can see in the photos below, the earlier-fruiting bushes are already in bloom, and the later varieties are displaying a good volume of buds.unnamedbuds

The 2016 season may have been the most disappointing season ever. A late April freeze, followed by a severe hail storm weeks later, really reduced our harvest and what was available to pick. However, with the new spring rains, and the buds we’re seeing on the 350 additional bushes added in 2016, this year’s season looks to have a lot of good fruit.

Progress is coming along on the new field. Making sure the soil has the right PH balance and nutrients for healthy blueberry bushes takes a year or two, and if our soil tests come back positive, we’ll be adding plants in the new field this fall. In the photo below you can see Ethan fixing the irrigation system in the greenhouse. Plants slated for the new field will first spend time in the greenhouse where we can properly prepare them before transplanting to the new field.

Ethan irrigating

As always, we’re as excited as you for the season to get open and on its way. Beginning May 1st, our online reservation system will open. If you prefer to use our Order & Pickup Service to either pick your berries up at the farm, or at Piccadilly Market & Grill in Wichita, then beginning in May, get your order in early, and we should be able to fill your request when the first berries are ripe, usually the first week of June.

If you prefer to pick your own, we’re excited to get to see you again this year, and as always, we’ll be open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for reservations. The reservation process is to ensure there’s enough ripe berries available for you on the day you’re out, and that it’s a fun and pleasant picking experience without too many people on any given day. Thursdays are open for picking with no reservations required.

We’ve been receiving plenty of calls and texts about this year’s season. It’s a really busy time of the year for us as we prepare for the season, so if you don’t hear back from us right away, please be patient, and know that we’ll respond when we can.

We’re looking forward to seeing all our “Berry Good Friends” at the farm! Spread the word, and bookmark our website and Facebook page to stay up-to-date on farm news and the season opening!

They’re Back! Berries, Berries Galore!

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After a slight delay to our season start due to all the rain and cooler temps we’ve had, we’re nearly ready to have Our Berry Good Friends come join us again at the farm for the delightful task of picking delicious blueberries.

We know you have been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to refill your freezers and start baking and tasting these fantastic, good-for-your-brain healthy treats, and it’s finally here!

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We’ve opened our online customer sign-in portal for you to start choosing and making reservations for your preferred pick dates (and placing online orders for pick up in Wichita), and our first official day of picking for the 2015 season will occur on Friday, June 19th. We’re sure you’ll be happy to hear that we’ll be extending the Pick Your Own season a little longer than usual (July 18th) because of the delay in ripening this spring, which means even more time to come back and check us out again a little further down the road once more varieties have ripened up!

If you were curious about blackberries, stay tuned, as we’re still watching them for ripening time and availability. We expect them to ripen up in quantity near the end of June and continue to produce for about two weeks after that. We’ll know more in about 1 week and will post an update here once we do.

As always, thanks for visiting the website and the farm, and for spreading the word about our delicious berries! See you soon!

 

The 2015 Berry Season is Approaching!

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We’re up and running once again here in 2015 at Chautauqua Hills Farm!

As you can see from the video and pictures below, the blueberries are looking good. Also, with the milder winter, the blackberries are looking good too. Yes, it looks like we’ll have blackberries this year!

As a side note, we have decided to cease offering Asparagus and Garlic going forward. But we think our blueberries and blackberries are pretty awesome on their own, and we know you agree!

April 2015 Blueberries - 1

April 2015 Blueberries - 2

April 2015 Blueberries - 3

Based on what we can see right now, the season looks like it will open up around the same time as last year – June 10th or so. We’ll keep monitoring things and will begin regularly updating the website and sending out occasional e-newsletters again, so stay tuned. Thanks for reading and for your support and enthusiasm in spreading the word about Chautauqua Hills Farm!

Your Berry Good Friends at Chautauqua Hills Farm

Pick-Your-Own Special & Other News From the Farm!

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We are excited to announce a pick-your-own special that will last through the end of the 2014 season here at Chautauqua Hills Farm.

Click here for more information on Pick Your Own!

We recently sent out an email newsletter with more pictures and news from the farm. If you haven’t read it, you can take a few moments to check it out here.

It’s a lot of fun to pick berries with your friends, and you may actually find it quite relaxing to be out in the country, hearing the birds and the breeze, as you fill up your buckets with tasty berries like some of our Berry Good Friends (below) did.

The berries are still doing great, and the weather this year (rainy and cooler — rather nice for mid-July!) has meant a slower ripening time, which means a longer season! We still have plenty of berries from both of your favorite varieties for you to pick.

Come join us at Chautauqua Hills Farm. You’ll be glad you did.

camille&candace

Welcome Back, Berry Good Friends!

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Welcome back, our Berry Good Friends!

It’s been a while since we’ve posted here on the blog, but we’ve been (yes, Cage and the bees have been too) as busy as ever! We opened our 2014 season this past week, so stay tuned for more frequent updates over the summer.

If you’d like to catch up on the latest happenings on the farm, here are the latest three email newsletters for your reading pleasure. We just sent out the latest one yesterday, with lots of information about how to order for pick up or schedule a picking reservation at the farm. If you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter, we’d sure love it if you would sign up!

The Day You’ve Been Waiting For – Our Blueberries Are Ready! – sent June 12, 2014

Blueberry Cookbook Giveaway & the Latest at Chautauqua Hills Farm – sent May 22, 2014

2014 Berry Season: Coming Soon at Chautauqua Hills Farm – sent April 24 , 2014

Facebook is also a great way to stay in touch with us. We post a little more frequently there, sharing a variety of content from pictures taken at the farm to links to recipes, articles, and products we’ve found helpful here at Chautauqua Hills Farm. One example is a picture we shared there of the berries at the end of May:

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As you can see, the blueberries are looking great (they’re ripe now, and we’ll be posting some pics of them in upcoming posts). We look forward to seeing you at the farm, and hope you’ll share another amazing summer with us!