Thousands of strawberries
Less than seven miles west of Washburn Barry Countians will find a new agriculture business that features a large patch of strawberries. Area community members are invited to visit Roseberry Hill, which is owned by Garry Rose, to pick their own big, juicy berries.
Roseberry Hill is located on 16 acres of land that was formerly owned by Rose's grandfather, Lemmie. Rose remembers picking tomatoes on the land when he was a youngster.
After spending several years in the military and then 26 years working for the United States Postal Service, Rose had the opportunity to purchase the land and return to the area where he and his twin brother, Larry, grew up.
"I always wanted to come back to the country because I'm a country boy," said Rose. "My aunt wanted to see this land go to me because she felt like my grandfather would have liked to see me here."
After purchasing the land, Rose decided to plant a large garden on the property. Last year, he attempted to grow corn, watermelon and a variety of other produce, but the hot humid weather took a toll on the garden and Rose's water bill.
"I decided to stick with berries from then on," said Rose. "They were what worked and they are what I know best. This whole hill was supposed to be strawberries this year."
Unfortunately Rose's plans to plant strawberries throughout the entire garden area were sidelined when his father, Denver, became ill earlier this year. Rose chose to scale back the strawberry patch in order to spend time with his dad, but he was still able to plant thousands of plants on the property.
"I've sold around 1,600 plants," said Rose. "I put in a drip irrigation system, and I place a plant every 18 inches. It is amazing what grows out of these rocks."
Roseberry Hill is about more than just ripe juicy strawberries though. The business offers an experience that is getting harder and harder to find.
With the help of Steve Pendergraft, Rose built over 40 quart carriers for the "you pick them" business, which will allow visitors to carry quart containers out into the patch and select their own berries. The carriers, which were built out of scrap wood and stained a rich dark color, are modeled after carriers used in the past.
"I remember picking strawberries as a kid," said Rose. "Kids don't do things like that anymore. I remember my uncle would pay me 25 cents a quart to pick strawberries.
"Now, I'm doing it for free just to offer this for people," Rose added with a chuckle.
In addition to strawberries, Rose will also offer blackberries, blueberries and some fresh flowers, such as poppies and day lilies, at Roseberry Hill.
"This is enough to keep me busy," said Rose. "It's a one man operation. I'm 67 and feel like I'm 37."
Rose said University of Missouri Extension played an instrumental part in getting his berry business up and going. Extension specialists analyzed the soil and provided helpful information for fertilizing and preparing the land.
With most of the work needed to grow the berries already completed, Rose is now concerned about the labor that will be needed to get the fruit off the plants. He has enlisted some family members and friends to help with the harvest.
"I would rather people come and pick their own berries, but we will pick for people who are unable to pick," said Rose. "I've been told that we will have 3,000 to 6,000 quarts of strawberries. This is going to be an intense thing when they begin to ripen."
Rose expects his plump strawberries to begin turning red by the end of the week, but he encourages residents to give him a call before venturing out to Roseberry Hill. The hours for the business vary because Rose also works part-time at Roaring River State Park.
"I love working at the park," said Rose. "The people who work there and the campers are all wonderful.
"It is amazing that I have gotten to come back here and do this," continued Rose. "I'm living the American dream. I have had a full life, but Roseberry Hill is the icing for my life."
Strawberry lovers should travel Highway 90 west out of Washburn around six miles until they reach Highway NN. Turn left onto Highway NN and drive six-tenths of a mile to Roseberry Hill. The business' sign is located on the right side of the highway.
For more information, call Rose at 417-225-0780.