Though it’s not the most popular item at Jaemor Farms, Drew Echols said the farm plans to plant about 2 or 3 more acres of blackberries this year. That means next season, there will be more than 2,000 new blackberry plants growing fruit for guests to enjoy.
“We are expanding production a little bit, and we’re looking forward to that,” said Echols, general manager at Jaemor Farms in Alto. “So, you’ve got to be making money if you’re going to expand production.”
Where: 5340 Cornelia Highway, Alto
When: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1-6 p.m. Sunday
More info: www.jaemorfarms.com
Although the past few weeks have been difficult due to heavy rains in the area, Echols said his blackberries have been harvested and are ready for market. Jaemor doesn’t offer a “U-pick” option since the crops aren’t close enough to the market, but are harvested and brought to the market daily.
“They’re not the most popular item that we grow,” Echols said. “But they’re quickly increasing in popularity, mainly because they taste so good, first off.”
Echols said he thinks Jaemor Farms will offer blackberries until mid-July, so there isn’t a lot of time to pick up some from the farm. Finding them alongside the road is another option.
Another reason he said blackberries are increasing in popularity is their health benefits. Carin Booth, family and consumer sciences extension agent at the University of Georgia Extension Office in Hall County, said those benefits are something people are slowly starting to learn about, but aren’t widely known.
“I think a lot of people, with fruits, just think one size fits all,” Booth said. “Like they all have fiber, they all have vitamin C, they all have this. But there are some that are just better than others, in my opinion.”
Blackberries have a wide range of important nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, B, C, E and K. They’re also high in fiber and even have a little protein.
Just one cup of blackberries has 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 47 percent of the recommended intake of manganese, which helps with brain function, and 36 percent of the recommended vitamin K, which helps the cardiovascular system, according to draxe.com.
“They’re pretty powerful antioxidants,” Booth said. “And one thing says blackberries are effective against the development of cancers, including lung, colon and esophageal cancer.”
Booth said there are many ways to get these nutrients. One for those who like buying in bulk, or picking them on their own in large numbers, is to preserve them. Just be careful of added sugar used when doing so, Booth said.
Making jam is another popular option, but cooking the berries can leave some of the nutrients behind.
“Most times, when you cook something and apply heat to it, especially with fruits, you’re going to break down the skin where the fiber is,” Booth said. “You’re going to break down some of those components, so I would say fresh is always better.”