There's a truly Divine blueberry patch on the shores of Harrison Branch, between Neosho and Seneca.

There's a truly Divine blueberry patch on the shores of Harrison Branch, between Neosho and Seneca.

This two-acre field is home to 1,000 Collins, Blue Ray and Blue Crop berry bushes which, in an average year, will produce about a gallon of berries each. This means that Jack and Sally Divine can count on selling about 1,000 gallons of what is now one of the most popular and healthy foods in the world.

Twenty or thirty years ago, blueberries were unheard of in Southwest Missouri, but that has changed. Jack Divine credits two things to the growth in blueberry farms in this area.

"I think people have developed more interest in fresh fruits and vegetables, and they want a healthier diet. Blueberries appeal to those people. Also, this land is very good for raising blueberries, especially now that more southern varieties have been developed."

Most land in this area is naturally acidic, and this is what blueberries need to grow well.

"If the soil is too sweet, you have to do something to it," Divine explained.

He says berries are a good crop to raise. "They do need water so we have an irrigation system.
We couldn't raise them without it. Other than that, they are easy."

But while it may seem somewhat easy, caring for the berries is a year-round job. In the "off" season, the farmer is busy pruning and mulching his plants. Early summer is when things get busy.

Admitting that in spring, the feeling is somewhat like a kid waiting for Christmas.

"You can see the berries coming on and you just hope they make it," he laughed.

In his 20 years of growing blueberries, Divine has had only one disastrous year. That year a late freeze took out the entire crop.

"Blueberries are generally disease resistant, and deer don't bother them," he said.

The Divine Blueberry Farm is located in a beautiful valley which looks like a haven for wildlife, including deer and turkey. If the berries were favored by deer, it's unlikely there would be a berry farm on the site.

Divine bought his land about twenty years ago, with the idea of having a blueberry farm. He and Sally had always gardened so they had an idea of having some kind of commercial crop.

"I worked in blueberries many years ago down around Garfield, Arkansas," he said. "And when I started my own berry farm, I learned mostly from growers down there."

Eager to get started in their berry business, the Divines actually set out their berry field before they built their home.

"I really enjoy the blueberries," Jack said, noting they were basically his responsibility.

Originally, the Divines had lots of people come out to pick their own berries, but now they don't encourage "U Pick" customers because their schedule is uncertain day to day.

"Mostly we pick ourselves or hire pickers, and then we just sell what we pick," Divine explained. "This year the price will be the same as last year—$16 a gallon."

Getting rid of the berries is not any problem for Jack and Sally.

"We always have more demand than we have berries," Jack explained. "Our customers just call and we put them on the list. Then we let them know when they can drive out and get them."
So if you want some truly divine berries, just give them a call and get your order in. Picking usually begins between the 10th and 15th of June and they sell out fast.