Our goal for our farm has always been to grow the best tasting, highest quality blueberries while using the least possible amount of chemicals. As we have aged and as our blueberry fields have aged, it has become increasingly difficult to meet that goal. As a result, we have chosen to retire as blueberry growers and Prelock Blueberry Farm is now permanently closed.
Tippecanoe County still has 2 u-pick blueberry farms and the local groceries carry fresh blueberries year round so we know this community will continue to have access to healthy and delicious fresh blueberries without our farm’s presence.
Blueberry season often felt more like a family reunion than a business and we will miss that but we are excited to move into the next chapter of our lives. We appreciate the support and friendship of so many of you who came year after year, rejoicing with us in the abundant harvests and commiserating with us in the difficult years. We love visiting the other u-pick farms in the area and we hope to see you there in the coming years.
Thanks again for the wonderful support you gave us the past 23 years.
God bless you all,
Matt & Esther Prelock
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. . . a time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecc. 3:1-2
If you have been a longtime visitor to our farm, you may remember a white haired lady sitting behind a table, taking your payment for your blueberries and cheerfully chatting with you. That lady was my mom.
Mom was one of our farm’s most ardent supporters but she wasn’t fond of the idea at the beginning. When we first bought the farm, we asked my parents (along with several other people) for their advice. My mom advised against buying it. She’d grown up on a farm in the Depression era and knew firsthand how hard it is to make a living from farming. She didn’t want that for us. Once we decided to try it though, we never heard a negative comment from her again. A few times we caught her keeping track of how much people had paid for their blueberries so she could figure out if we were making enough to make it worth while but she never said a word.
Mom seemed to love working here even though she only got paid in blueberries. In the early years, most of our employees were family members and she loved being with the family. Mom had so much fun working for us that when my dad retired, he asked if he could help so he could be with the family too. Mom liked it that dad was coming because he could help her pick berries and she said that he ate so many while picking that she could put more in the freezer at home.
Mom and Dad would get here early and bring their newspaper. We’d provide them with donuts and all the coffee they could drink for breakfast. They’d sit behind their table with their cash boxes and read the paper until the first customers started coming out of the field. Then they were all business.
About 10 years ago the family began to notice changes in Mom. For over 20 years she had avidly made sourdough bread from scratch. The whole family loved her gifts of homemade bread. Suddenly her bread wouldn’t turn out. She had been the family financial wizard for as long as I can remember but she couldn’t remember what forms to keep to prepare their taxes. Taking payments at the farm became too much for her but she still wanted to be here for Blueberry Season so we gave her a clicker and asked her to count the customers for us. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Alzheimers.
For 7 years Mom graciously accepted her limitations. We don’t know whether she knew what was happening because she never complained. Almost every professional who helped with her care said she was the sweetest Alzheimer’s patient they’d known. She wasn’t angry or cross or combative. The last few years I don’t know if she knew who I was but she always hugged me and thanked me for coming to see her and for taking care of her.
Mom’s last month was difficult. Her caregivers said she was stuck in the memories of her early childhood and she was often agitated. She kept telling us over and over “I want to go home!” One weekend, Dad and all of us kids gathered in her room to share memories together and to tell her one more time what a wonderful mom she was. We sang old hymns together and Mom sang along. We couldn’t always remember the words to the hymns but Mom knew them.
Mom got her wish and left us for her true home on June 11. Her memorial service was June 19. Blueberry Season began on June 27. Mom wouldn’t have liked that timing because she always wanted to help us. I so wanted to post a tribute to Mom before we opened because many of you remember her. Opening day, I could see her sitting at her table with a smile on her face, eagerly waiting to greet the first person out of the field. It was a bitter sweet memory. In the end, we decided not to post publicly because we knew many of you would offer condolences and hugs and we would spend the whole season in tears.
If there are blueberries in heaven, Mom is probably somewhere nearby, waiting for us to arrive so we can reminisce about her days on our farm. We love you and miss you, Mom! Thanks for being our biggest fan!
Last Spring when I went to a u-pick farm to pick strawberries, a friend went with me. We talked about how food can often be the means to build a family feeling with others -- whether by u-picking together, cooking together, canning together or just eating together. She had grown up in a family that was influenced by many cultures of the world and she has a wonderful perspective on that subject. I asked her to write a guest post for my blog and this is what she wrote:
Many of my most cherished memories of my childhood were created in the kitchen. Growing up, my mom cooked and baked most things from scratch, either from ethnic recipes passed on by her mother and mother-in-law, or recipes that she had learned when she moved to North America.
As a child, I especially enjoyed baking with her - she'd usually let me lick the spoon and bowl when she was finished with them!
My mother is Cypriot (from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which has a heavy Greek influence), and my father is Lebanese (from Lebanon in the Middle East), so if you've seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the story line isn't too far off! My mom did a great job of incorporating both worlds into our weekly menu, but in general, we had more Cypriot-influenced foods, although there is some overlap between the two. A few of my family’s favorites include stuffed grape-vine leaves (kind of like a cabbage roll), moussaka (like a lasagna with eggplant and potatoes instead of noodles), chicken-lemon stew, egg soup, and tabouleh (a salad made mainly with parsley, onion, tomatoes and cracked wheat).
Nowadays, when my husband and I plan to go visit my family in Ontario, Canada, one of the first questions my mom usually asks is related to what meals we'd like to have during our stay. You have to understand, in my family’s world, food equals family time, and preparing food is a way my mom shows her love to the family. It's a trait that she inherited from her mother, and I'm hoping I've acquired it too!
In both of those countries, meals are opportunities when families come together to spend time with and enjoy one another's company; so it was a pretty rare occasion when we did not all sit down together at supper time. This was my world growing up; and I thought everyone else's family was just like mine. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that not every family chose to eat meals together, and some didn’t have the luxury of eating supper at the same time! It was just different to the world that was familiar to me.
But, I’m now very familiar with odd work schedules that conflict with the typical meal times. I currently work as a Registered Nurse in a local hospital and work 12 hour shifts, and often times I don’t get home until after 7pm. Thankfully, my husband is gracious enough to wait for me and sometimes even has started prepping supper by the time I get home.
Although I love hosting and cooking for people, one thing that I really enjoy is cooking the meal with them. Whether it was with roommates, now with my husband, or with friends we invite over, I love the process of making the meal and trying new recipes. I think this is my way of re-living cherished memories and creating new ones with the people I love.
Well, Blueberry Season is almost upon us, and that means our focus is primarily out in the fields. But we wanted to let you know about something new
we’ll be offering this year regarding our Freshly Roasted Whole Bean Coffee.
We recently jumped on the Keurig bandwagon — it’s quick, convenient, and makes a single cup. But we quickly found that most of the coffee
available in the ready-made pods just didn’t taste that fresh.
So we looked into refillable k-cups, and discovered the best of both worlds —fresh tasting coffee with the convenience of a quick single cup!
This summer, along with our coffee, we’ll also be selling a limited quantity of coffee bean grinders and refillable k-cups so you can do it yourself!
Give us a minute to convince you why it’s worth it:
First, let’s talk money. One pound of our
coffee ($14) typically makes about 50 cups.
50 pods of Starbucks House blend at Walmart costs about $34. The grinders will be available
for $21 each and the refillable k-cups for $6 or $11, depending on the model of your Keurig machine.
That means if you drink a cup a day, you’ll spend about $10 more than
you would for the first 6 weeks of coffee. After that, you’ll be saving about $14/month -- almost $170/year! And that’s if you drink only one cup a day!
(For the math-y people out there, you can see our cost comparison chart below.)
But we all know value means so much more than just financially cheaper!
By switching from pods to a refillable cup, you’ll also be supporting
local business, contributing to less waste in landfills, and most importantly, getting a fresher (better tasting) cup of coffee! And really, we know how important that is!
So, maybe the idea of whole bean coffee has always intimidated you.
You’re more of an ‘instant’ type person. Well, hopefully this can help.
We get how easy Keurig is, and why it’s so tempting. But we really do believe fresh is ALWAYS best, and we’d love to convince you of that too!
What do you think? Do you have a Keurig?
Would you consider making the switch to a refillable cup?
Let us know in the comments below!
Why Switch to Refillable Pods of Prelock Blueberry Farm Coffee?
1 lb fresh coffee (makes 50 cups) $14
Refillable k-cup (single cup filter) $ 6
Refillable k-cup (carafe filter) $11
Total for first 50 cups $41 or $46
After that, just $14 for 50 cups!
**Compare to 50 pods of Starbucks House Blend Medium at Walmart**
$34.31 every time!
You’ll save $140 over the next year!
Several people have contacted us wanting to know what the seasons are for various fruits and vegetables in our part of Indiana. Purdue's Cooperative Extension Service has created a handy guide which we've reposted here.
Not all of these items are available for u-pick but it gives you and idea of when different produce is normally ripe around here. However, a small caveat -- does anyone know what is "normal weather" for Indiana?
Tuesday I went strawberry picking with a friend. We had a great time visiting and came home with mounds of juicy, beautiful berries. I couldn’t wait to get home to wash and slice a bowlful to eat with milk and sugar.
Although we own a u-pick farm we are also u-pick customers. Why? We like fresh produce. We believe fresh always tastes better. We would love to grow everything that we eat but we’re pretty spoiled. As Americans, we’ve eaten food from around the world and grown to love all of it. While our soil is perfect for growing blueberries and many other things, we will never be able to grow bananas. Even simple things like carrots and sweet corn don’t grow well in our garden. We used to have a small patch of strawberries for just our family and they were delicious but we struggled to keep the weeds out of it. Our primary focus is on the blueberries so when time got tight, the strawberries had to go.
While we were picking Tuesday, I noticed that some friends’ daughters had jobs picking strawberries for that farm to sell as pre-picked. They are in their early teens so too young for regular jobs. Working at a you-pick farm is a great way for teens to learn what work is all about. They quickly figure out the relationship between what you can buy for a dollar and how much work must be expended to earn that dollar. Someone besides mom or dad is evaluating their work and that helps them understand their own abilities and preferences more fully. Working at our farm was a great experience for our sons and clarified for them what kind of jobs they were or weren't good at and also what things they liked or didn’t like to do. It also forced them to develop people skills in a variety of situations.
There were several families with smaller children picking at the strawberry patch on Tuesday. What a wonderful way to teach children that our food doesn’t come from plastic boxes on a shelf indoors! They see that it grows in dirt so a little dirt on food isn’t a horrible thing. They see the people who have worked hard to produce that food and realize that food isn’t manufactured; it’s grown. They see mud and weeds and insects, all part of the food production process. They also get a small taste of the amount of work necessary to provide what we put in our mouths and appreciate that eating and work go together, that eating is one of the blessings of working hard.
As I drove home, I thought it’s good for me to be on the customer side of the
u-pick equation. It reminds me of what it’s like for you when you come to our farm. It helps me remember that we aren’t the only ones doing this, we aren’t the only ones impacted by the weather, the economy and demographic trends. I love seeing the enthusiasm and commitment of the other farmers in our area and how much they love what they are doing even when it is difficult and not always as rewarding as they’d hoped. We are so thankful for the other farmers providing for us what we don’t produce for ourselves. And we are so thankful for those of you who come to our farm to pick what we produce. We’re all in this together and we’re so grateful for everyone who is a part of the whole.
The point behind PickYourOwn is that fresh is always better. We are the farming branch of the “buy local” movement.
The Lafayette area has been fortunate to have many different farms with a large variety of produce available for you to pick yourself at the farm where it is produced (what U-Pick means). Unfortunately for you, our customers, there has been little centralized information to help you find us, the farmers.
If you didn’t grow up on a farm or in a rural area, you also may not realize that local fruits and vegetables are only ripe at certain times during the summer. You may not know which month is the best time to pick the sweetest sweet corn or the ripest peaches. You may not even know what produce is available in the area and what will not grow well in our area.
My hope is that this blog post can be a reference point for those who want to visit one or several of these farms during the growing season. Please contact me if you notice that any of this info is incorrect or if I need to add farms to the list. If you enjoy picking your own at one of these farms, you’ll probably enjoy a visit to another one. Hopefully this will help you follow through on those plans.
For the most part, we love farm living and we look forward to your visit to our farm. We're sure the other growers feel the same. A visit to one of our farms often leads people to visit other farms and hopefully this blog will help facilitate that as well!
Near West Lafayette.
Strawberries, Cherries, Peaches Nectarines, Blueberries, Apples, Raspberries
Huffman Berry Farm
North of Lafayette
Prairie View Farms Produce
Battleground. They also have wagons that visit Lafayette!
Sweet Corn, Vegetables, Melons
Prelock Blueberry Farm
Blueberries, Fresh Roasted Whole Bean Coffee
Smith Farms Indiana
Strawberries, Flowers, Peaches, Apples, Pumpkins
Wea Creek Orchard
Peaches, Nectarines, Apples, Pumpkins. Also, they are a great venue for events!
How We Became Blueberry Farmers
For years we had been looking for a few acres out in the country with an old farmhouse to renovate. We lived in a small 2 bedroom house east of Lafayette with a postage stamp sized yard. Our boys had more energy than we knew what to do with and we thought living in the country would help them constructively burn off some of that excess energy. My hubby has this latent farming gene that generally appears at planting time and he wanted more space to plant a bigger garden. I just wanted our garden in our backyard rather than out at the interstate so I had more control over how many bushels of green beans or tomatoes were picked to be canned each evening.
A friend who was a realtor told us about this blueberry farm that was for sale. There was no house on the property but if we bought it the blueberries could help pay for the property, she said. We had been blueberry picking there in previous summers. The bushes were small and I had a hard time getting the boys to put any berries in their buckets. We had also picked blueberries once up in Demotte. It was late in the season so the berries were small, it was hot and the mosquitos were bad (sound familiar?) The man with the latent farming gene said, “You don’t ever have to pick another blueberry if you don’t want.” So I wasn’t terribly concerned when the farmer said, “Let’s look at it. What do we have to lose?” For the fun of it, we looked at it. And for the farmer and both of his sons, it was love at first sight. All I could see was an awful lot of work.
We made a list of pros and cons about whether to “buy the farm”. There are a lot of really good, more elaborate ways to make decisions but we keep coming back to the old pro/con list as a reliable way to sort through information when we’re making decisions.
We made a deal with each other that we would try it out for 3 years. We kept living in the small home with the postage stamp yard but we worked the farm. We would drive out after work and school or on weekends, work at the farm and come home dirty, tired but also very happy (for at least 3 of us.) After 2 years of that, we decided to build our home there and live their permanently.
Later we learned that if we hadn’t made an offer on the farm that week, the previous owners were going to subdivide the farm the following week and try to sell it as building lots. One more week and there would not have been a blueberry patch on the east side of town!