Long Farms U-pick offers more as summer season starts

Published 3:25 pm Saturday, May 13, 2023

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For those looking to buy their produce locally, there are several options in Decatur County. Long Farms is one local option, offering not just fruits and vegetables, but also farm-raised beef. While the operation does have pre-picked produce on sale, they are perhaps most well-known for their U-pick business, allowing customers to pick their own produce.

Kelli Long, co-owner with her husband Justin, spoke to the Post-Searchlight about the U-pick side of things, and what crops they will be offering as the summer season progresses. “We grow over 30 different fruits and vegetables,” Long said. “We’re just now starting our season, we have red potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini and snap beans, and we’ll move into peas, butter beans, okra, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, sweet corn, field corm, cantaloupe, watermelon, and we grow not just watermelon, but red, yellow and orange watermelon.” The U-pick season kicked off earlier this year around February with strawberries, while June will be the peak for some of the previously mentioned produce.

While customers looking for convenience can simply buy the pre-picked produce, those wanting to pick their own can take a five-gallon bucket (their own or one provided by Long Farms) and pick whatever assortment of crops they want for $11.50.

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“We are known locally as a U-pick,” Long explained, “but that used to be mainly what we did, but we’re kind of 50/50 now… If you’re not able to pick, or you’re not interested in picking, you can come up to the barn and either get it in small quantities, like at the grocery store, by the pound, or you can order large quantities, like boxes of squash or tomatoes when they’re in season.” Long further explained the farm’s transition from primarily U-pick under the ownership of her husband’s parents, to both pre-picked and U-pick, saying, “We’ve always been a U-pick, but since my husband Justin and I started… we noticed there was a need for more pre-picked… The older generation of wanting to go pick it themselves, and canning it themselves, was, well, for lack of a better word, dying off.” She continued, “We’re transiting to the children of that first-generation U-picker, where they want to put it up, but they don’t want to do the work of picking, or they don’t have the time to. So we have tried to cater to all those people, that still want to can and put up, but don’t necessarily want to go pick.” Accordingly, the pre-picked side of the farm has tripled in size.

Some of Long Farm’s newest offerings include radishes, cilantro and sweet onions.

While the farm is not technically ag tourism, Long stated that they get many visitors more interested in education than just strictly produce. “We’re definitely not ag tourism, but we get a lot of families that want their kid to have a farm experience, to see where their food is grown, so we get a lot of young families that are interested in learning about agriculture.”

“Everyone’s wanting to buy local, support local, and wants to know where their food comes from,” Long concluded, “and to me, what better way to know where your food came from, than come to the source, and the ones that grew it, and we can tell you exactly what went into it.”