By Amy Fovargue
FREDERICKTOWN, Ohio — Ann Trudel has always loved picking red raspberries and making jam with them. So it made sense that after she and her husband, Dan, bought 5 acres near Fredericktown, they decided to raise their own and make a business out of it.
They named their business — what else! — Ann’s Raspberries.
After planting nearly 1,500 canes in 2005, they hoped to establish a U-Pick operation, however in their first year of business, they had berries, but not many picking customers.
So Ann started making raspberry jam to add value to their product. They also looked for markets to sell the fresh berries and jam, and began selling them at weekly farm markets in Mount Vernon, Fredericktown and Clintonville.
“It’s a big thrill for us to take our products to a farm market or local produce auction to see the customers get excited about our berries,” said Dan.
The picking at their operation is ideal, because the canes are raised on trellises, making the berries easy to reach.
There are also grass walkways between the rows and weeds are at a minimum.
Three varieties are raised on their farm to extend the season.
From August through October, the demand is very high for their premium product, which is certified naturally grown. Although fruit raised this way is more desirable to consumers, it requires many hours of hard work pulling weeds and picking off Japanese Beetles by hand since no herbicides or pesticides can be used.
Brambles are a good cash crop for those with few acres, as they require a relatively low investment. But be warned, they are also very labor intensive.
Today, the Trudels are the largest red raspberry producer in Knox County, according to Troy Cooper, OSU Extension educator.
Each year following planting, producers can expect their crop to double in yield.
Last year, was the Trudels’ highest-producing year, with a yield of 1,250 pounds of fruit. Ann made 975 half-pint jars of jam, in addition to marketing the fresh berries.
Selling ‘an experience.’
“What we are trying to create is a family experience,” said Dan Trudel. “Our property offers beautiful views, with its rolling hills being surrounded with farmland.”
They even provide tables for families to enjoy a picnic while they come harvest.
This business has offered rewards for the family. Ann says it allows her to stay home and “away from the rat race of commuting.” She home schools their daughter Allison, but their 15-year-old son goes to a public school.
“The crop represents, to me, something of value, that you put all of this work into and it is unique,” Ann added. “It is an honor to own something like this.”