Carol Wagner planted six long rows of blueberries on a half acre of land outside her home in Lowell, OH sometime in the 1980’s. Since then, the bushes have thrived and provided more than a family’s fair share of fruit. For years Carol opened her blueberry patch for others to come and pick by the pound. After her passing in 2014 her son Keith and his wife Sandy purchased the farmland. Last year, the couple decided to revive Carol’s practice of encouraging the public to come pick berries. When asked, Sandy revealed her pragmatic and family-oriented motivation for tending the patch. “I’ll be retiring soon,” she said, ”It’s a productive way to spend my time while also teaching my grandkids a strong work ethic as they grow and start helping out.”
Just off Route 60 in Lowell you’ll find a sign for Carol’s Blueberry Patch. From there, rows of blueberries surrounded by protective netting await you atop a small hill. After you park, you’ll be greeted by a member or two of the Wagner family. Be sure to bring a container for transporting your berries home that you don’t mind being written on (they must weigh and mark it prior to picking). From there, it’s as simple as raising the net and picking your berries! Harvest directly into the container you brought or ask for one of the farm’s nifty picking belts! Blueberries can be purchased at $2.75 per pound with cash, check, and PayPal. Ask about the scannable QR code for PayPal payments. While supplies last, various other vegetables will also be available for purchase.
The patch is maintained by Keith and Sandy with help from their daughter Ashley and son Andy along with his wife Catie. The family works tirelessly to make sure the Mid-Ohio Valley has fresh, locally grown produce. To ensure the best harvest, the grass must remain mowed, the weeds pulled, and the overhead netting secured to prevent unwanted bird visitors. Keith’s brother constructed a few beehives among the blueberry bushes to help with pollination. Sandy also assured me that minimal pesticides are used when tending to the crops. Whether it’s the around-the-clock care or some magic in the soil, Carol’s blueberries annually start ripening about two weeks earlier than other local farms. That’s an extra two weeks of opportunity to get out there and start picking!
The knowledge of exactly what varieties of blueberries grow in the patch has been forgotten or rests with its previous tenders, but a walk through the bushes reveals a diverse crop of berries. Some ripen to be smaller and blue, while others get large and plump with hints of purple.
“I like the big, juicy, sweet ones the best,” Sandy mused when asked about her favorite variety. Ashley added, “My favorite blueberry to pick has a hint of purple and green, so I know it will be tart with a little crunch.” If you have any questions about the berries as you pick, the Wagners will be more than happy to offer assistance.
Keith and Sandy decided to name the patch Carol’s Blueberry Patch after Keith’s late mother. A simple nod to the legacy of a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother feels sweet and sentimental from the outside looking in, but to this family, her memory means so much more.
“My grandma Carol was an extremely kind, hardworking woman. She spent her years raising a large family and working on the farm she and her husband, my grandpa Bernard, owned. She worked alongside them [her family], and made sure they were all fed. She also helped her sons with their own farming. I think she raised these blueberries for her,” said Ashely Wagner.
“I spent a lot of time at grandma’s house growing up, and I got to see her welcome people to the blueberry patch,” she said. “She really enjoyed talking to the customers, some of who became friends and regulars. After she passed away, customers would share fond memories of her when they came to pick. When we decided to keep opening the patch to the public we wanted to honor her memory. I started coming up with ideas on what to name it, and when I asked my dad what he thought of ‘Carol’s Blueberry Patch,’ he liked it!”
Blueberries, as well as being delicious, also provide a plethora of health benefits. They possess a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin that contributes to its blue color and healthy qualities. According to Medical News Today, blueberries can aid in heart health, blood pressure, cancer prevention, weight loss, and even your mental health. One cup of blueberries provides 24% of a person’s daily recommended vitamin C intake. Sandy jokes that Carol probably made it to the ripe age of 99 thanks to all the blueberries she had eaten in her life.
If you’re looking for a fun family activity this summer, look no further than Carol’s Blueberry Patch. Opening weekend is Friday, June 18th and Saturday the 19th from 8:00 am until noon. You can find the remaining dates through the 4th of July on their Facebook page, Carol’s Blueberry Patch. Carol Wagner found great joy in bringing fresh produce to the locals and creating connections with the people whose lives she touched. That same desire is evident as her family continues to take excellent care of her legacy. Ashley says, “We hope you come and enjoy this place as much as she did, and we do; and we hope you keep coming back every year.”