Name: Rush River Produce
Address: W4098 200th Ave., Maiden Rock. Look for big blue signs on Highway 35 and follow County Road A north. Several signs for berries direct you to the property.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday-Sunday
Cost: $4.95 per pound
John and Terry Cuddy have nine acres of blueberry bushes, and visitors to their property near Maiden Rock are free to roam around and sample the berries.
“We tell them to eat all they want while they are here,” Terry said. “That’s the important part.”
Rush River Produce has 14 varieties of blueberries, according to Terry, and she said people often ask her which one is the sweetest.
“My taste is different than what you are going to taste,” Terry said, “so I tell people to go out and eat berries until you find the ones you like and fill your basket with those.”
After visitors pick as many berries as they want, they bring their box or basket back to the checkout stand where it is weighed and priced by the pound.
“Some people, who are not looking for a lot of berries or just want to kill some time, can spend as little as half an hour and get a reasonable amount of berries,” John said. “Others, who want three or four boxes, might be out there for hours.”
July and early August is generally the best season, but weather conditions play an important part in berry picking. The berries need plenty of rain or irrigation to grow, but too much rain can knock ripe berries off the bushes.
“Always call before going to any u-pick place,” John said. “Situations can change by the hour.”
Recent concerns for social distancing have made John and Terry make some changes to their normal berry picking routines.
“As people come and go, we are going to keep them separated as best we can,” Terry said. “Family groups who come together will remain together, but we have a large area so that nobody has to be next to someone else when they are picking berries. We will do our best to keep people separate as they come to check out. We’ll have them wear masks, as needed, and we will be wiping down surfaces throughout the day to keep things as sanitized as possible.”
John and Terry have spent many years inviting guests to their farm. They have picnic tables, chairs, benches, and a tire swing for kids. They have large flower gardens highlighting the rows of blueberry bushes, and a short trail behind the barn takes visitors to a hill with an excellent view of Lake Pepin.
A lot of families are repeat customers. They visit with their kids who love eating the berries and wandering around the area.
“This is the third generation of people that I am seeing now,” Terry said. “They bring the kids, and they have a lot of fun. It is a beautiful place for them to enjoy. They go home with some fun memories and some good eating for blueberry pancakes.”