Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 27
Above: There are 3 acres of strawberries on the Simpson Farm. Damage from deer will hurt yields this year. Above right: Picking berries at the farm is a tradition for many residents of the
Ozarks. Below left: Though he has tried other types, Wayne favors the Chandler variety of strawberry due to its uniform red color. Below right: The berries are picked fresh daily.
tures damaged more than 10 percent of their strawberry blooms this past sea- high demand with local buyers for the remainder of the summer.
Universities have brought ﬁeld trips to learn Wayne's strawberry-growing
son. "In full bloom stage, if temperatures dip below 32 degrees, they're gone.
We have to watch the weather carefully and use row covers to guard against process. "I don't know how many people I've gotten started on plasticulture. I
really enjoy sharing about our work here." He's done presentations in Illinois,
frost or low temps."
They often cover the entire ﬁelds with blankets. The row covers are 30 feet Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma and across Missouri.
They also were involved with agritourism for several years, offering hayrides,
wide and each covers ﬁve rows. "It's like getting a parachute up or down in a
a corn maze and pumpkin patch. "I also did tours of the cabin/museum I
little bit of wind," Wayne laughs. "You really have to hold on to it."
moved and rebuilt on our property. We have a lot of heirlooms dating back
With 15 acres of grapes, 3 acres of strawberries and 1 acre
each of blackberries, onions and other garden produce, the
to the 1800s from my family and my wife's family that we set up in the
Simpsons stay busy year round.
cabin. You can go in and live in there just like they did in the 1800s,"
Before they know it, May has returned and visitors start
says Wayne. "It ﬁt right in with our agritourism." He also had a working blacksmith shop as part of the show.
arriving from all over. "We even have customers that come up
It wasn't until three years ago when Wayne had open heart surfrom Mountain Home, Arkansas," says Wayne. He says deer devMountain
astated the crop during the winter, and cool temperatures have
gery that they were forced to cut back on some things. He retired
from cabinet making and they scaled back on the agritourism.
pushed back the ripening date, but there still will be berries
"Then we lost our son, David, and my wife. Now it's just my
daughter, Deb, and me. We've had to cut back some more. For
Their strawberries and blackberries are mostly pick-your-own,
example, from almost 1,500 tomatoes to 500 now." Their farm
but they do offer pre-picked berries upon request. Fresh garden
remains a family operation, along with the seasonal help of Debproduce including tomatoes, peppers, corn, zucchini, cucumbers
bie's husband and a few friends.
and onions are all pre-picked. They sell all their grapes to Stone Hill
After summer harvests are ﬁnished and the ground is tilled over once more,
Winery in Hermann.
"After 35 years, people start calling every spring to see when we're going to the September tradition will start anew. Long days of planting, waiting and
open and ask how the berries are looking," says Wayne. "We get calls every day. nurturing the crops will return. Once again, they'll be watching the weather
and dreaming of spring. Father and daughter share a knowing smile. Their
We're known as the strawberry people."
Once the berries are ripe and ready, cars line the road and ﬁll the parking work is never done. "That's the life of a farmer."
lots every year. "We open at eight and by noon the rush usually slows down.
For more information about Simpson's Family Farm, visit www.facebook.
We've got ﬁve buggies we use to take customers to the ﬁeld. They circle around
com/simpsonsfamilyfarm or call Wayne at 417-926-5308.
all day and customers can catch a ride whenever their baskets are full."
When strawberry season is over around the ﬁrst of June, the Simpsons' shed
Kaiser is a freelance writer from Hartville.
immediately transforms into a farmers market. Their fresh vegetables are in
MAY 2018 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP