"Ihate blueberries," said a customer at "Blueberries on the Buffalo Farm" in Lawrenceburg. "Well then - try this. This is a blueberry." said Dan Eiser, proprietor, offering up a perfectly plump berry. After tasting the berry, the woman became one of his best customers. "She'd only tasted those cardboard things you buy at the grocery store - she had no idea what a real blueberry tasted like!" he says jubilantly.
Dan and Debbie Eiser take the quality of their berries seriously on their 60-acre, pick-your-own farm. They do everything themselves; from picking the berries for their pre-orders to meticulously pruning every berry bush each winter. "We probably go overboard, but we really have a commitment to quality," says Debbie.
It's important to the Eisers to teach their PYO customers how to select the ripest berry. "We make sure every single berry in their bucket is good," says Dan. To test for ripeness, Dan advises taking the berry between your thumb and forefinger and gently rolling it around. If it comes off easily, without tugging, it's ready.
Dan and Debbie grew up in Chicago, but moved to rural North Carolina in the 1970's in part to escape the cold. Both were working full time but wanted land on which to garden. They moved to Pennsylvania and then Georgia, continuing to experiment with fruits like berries and figs, as well as, rabbits and chickens. "We got into all kinds of 'back-to-the-land' stuff, you know, before it was cool," Dan says grinning. "Being a locavore is in vogue. We're enjoying the movement for a second time." They purchased their current farm and moved to Tennessee to begin farming full time when Dan retired in 2000.
In addition to the PYO blueberries and blackberries, the family-friendly farm offers a 1.5 mile mowed path leading to the Buffalo River. There is a gazebo; tables for picnics, several ponds stocked with catfish to feed. There is also a small retail store for purchasing fresh herbs, flowers and more from the Eisers personal garden.
One of the highlights for Debbie is sharing the farm with those without much experience in rural spaces. "One 12-year-old girl had never been on a farm before. She had a ball feeding the catfish and learning how to pick the berries. All of a sudden she looked up and said, 'you're going to get very, very rich soon because I'm going to tell everyone about this place!' The farm experience was something really special for her."
Reflecting on their lives now as full-time farmers, the Eisers say they feel grateful. Dan says happily, "It really would be paradise, if it wasn't so much work!"
Blueberries on the Buffalo will be open once the berries are ripe from 8am to 6pm (closed Wednesdays and Sundays). This will be the 2nd week of June for blackberries and for blueberries the 3rd week of June. Please call before visiting: (931)-964-4578.