“I’ve killed more berries than anybody in this state,” Pam Clark says with a laugh. For the past 20 years, she’s cultivated her berry-growing skills through trial and error at The Berry Farm in Marshall, tending to blueberries, black raspberries, blackberries, and, occasionally, red raspberries. “I grow what I like, and I probably eat more than anybody else,” she says.
From mid-June through August, eager visitors arrive at this high mountain valley farm with level fields and gorgeous views. They head to The Berry House for picking baskets and tips on selecting the ripest fruits. “The best way to choose a ripe berry is to sample one,” Clark says, and visitors dutifully follow this advice, as evidenced by grinning faces and stained fingers.
Sweeter than a raspberry and richer than a blackberry, black raspberries, with their deep purple color, do a fine job of dressing up the vanilla ice cream sold in The Berry House. The berries’ tartness complements the sweet flavor of the ice cream, which is served with wooden spoons, a memorable throwback to late-summer school lunches.
After black raspberries kick off the picking season, jumbo, thornless Chester blackberries arrive, thrilling young berry fans, who can easily select and savor them without getting pricked. “I love to see those little kids come out with the berry juice all over them because they’ve been sampling,” Clark says. “That’s what makes it all worth it.”