Blueberries worth the drive!
Persimmon Hill Farm is a unique berry, fruit, and mushroom farm located in the heart of Southwest Missouri. The farm began in the early 1980s when Owners and Founders, Earnie & Martha Bohner, fulfilled their dream of starting a one-of-a-kind berry farm attraction where families could pick their own fruit for the taking and enjoy the welcoming and authentic atmosphere of ‘the farm life’.
Families, friends, and travel groups are invited to come to tour the fields of Persimmon Hill, pick fresh berries, dine on hot muffins and cinnamon rolls, and taste gourmet products made fresh on the farm!
Earnie & Martha worked hard to turn a vacant lot of land – with a few Persimmon trees scattered throughout – into an area thriving with blueberries, blackberries, plums, gooseberries, and – most recently – log-grown shiitake mushrooms! Their mission statement is to provide an enjoyable family attraction and experience near the tourist town of Branson, and that’s exactly what this amazing couple – and their many wonderful employees – have managed to do successfully over the years.
Currently, the farm has over 126 rows of the beloved blue fruit, so there’s more than enough for everyone to pick, eat, and ‘njoy! Learn more about the farm, and its many enticing features from the words of Martha Bohner( Co-Owner of Persimmon Hill) who previously worked as editor of the Stone County paper, and then as a Publicist for Silver Dollar City for 24 years.
Interview with Martha Bohner | Co-Owner of Persimmon Hill Farm
1. How did the idea come together for a place like Persimmon Hill Farm? How long has the farm been in operation?
“We had the concept for the farm while we were living in Seattle. I worked as a Public Health Advisor for the Centers for Disease Control, and Earnie developed emergency medical systems for the Indian Health Service. We were both into health and fitness and did a lot of hiking, biking, and running, and we focused on fresh, natural foods and fruits. We loved the you-pick farms in Washington state and the fresh foods available there. Earnie wanted to return to the Ozarks (he grew up in Springfield and spent summers on Table Rock Lake). Earnie worked on an idea for a destination farm and food processing operation that would combine his interests in the outdoors and utilize his master’s degree in public health. He studied horticulture and beekeeping and later was certified through the FDA’s food processing courses. We found and purchased the land (which was vacant pasture) while still living in Seattle, moved here in 1983, and started preparing the soil to plant the first 2 acres of blueberries.”
2.Tell us a little about what your position entails as co-owner.
“We have been running Persimmon Hill Farm for almost 40 years. The summer berry season is the time we have the most visitors, but we are busy year-round. We make our jams, sauces, syrups, and juices (over 35 products) during the September to May season, which we sell through our website and ship all over the country. We do private label processing for other companies as well. We bake and ship our Blueberry Thunder Muffins, too, a very popular item during the Christmas season.”
3. When is the blueberry season? Does it vary depending on the year/the weather?
“The blueberry season begins in June, depending upon the spring weather that starts the blooming process and then the warmth that speeds ripening. We have had ripe blueberries as early as the last week in May, but it is usually around the second week in June for the earliest varieties. We have 11 varieties from early to the late-season that spreads the season from June into July and sometimes August – all depending upon the weather and heat.
We are probably best known for blueberries, but we also grow blackberries, elderberries, gooseberries, and shiitake mushrooms. We have 8 acres of blueberries, which is about 9,000 plants. Our blackberries ripen a few weeks after the first blueberries and produce into late July. The elderberries, which we process into juice that we sell in the farm store, ripen in late August. The gooseberries are replanted, so it will be another year or two before we have those available to pick. We have been growing the shiitakes for about 25 years, and we produce those year-round.”
4. Who all can visit the farm? Families? Travel Groups? Do you host any special events?
“All are welcome to visit the farm. Families are probably our main group of guests. We host travel groups, including bus tours and church groups, plus school groups. We have had some special events with music performances but have not in the last 2 years due to COVID.”
5.What is your favorite part about Persimmon Hill Farm? The guests? The experience? The atmosphere?
“All of it. We love great fruits, foods and tastes, and the whole farm atmosphere. We especially love sharing it with guests. Our mission statement is Great Foods, Great Tastes, and a Great Family Farm Experience or simply: It’s All About Great Taste!”
6.What products do you offer?
“In addition to our Blueberry Thunder Muffins, Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls, Cobblers, and other bakery specialties like the Cumulobluebus (which is a warm Thunder Muffin, split and filled with ice cream, topped with whipped cream, blueberry drizzle, and fresh blueberries), we make our own frozen drinks: Blueberry Milkshakes and Blueberry Sleets, which are frozen blueberry lemonade.
We also have a selection of farm-made, small-batch artisanal jams, syrups, and sauces.
Our offerings include:
- Jams and Spreads: Always popular, with Blueberry, Blackberry, Strawberry, Raspberry, and Strawberry Rhubarb among the most popular, along with Apple Butter. Unique spreads are Nutty Blue Goose jam (with blueberries, gooseberries, and black walnuts), Gooseberry Black Walnut jam, Elderberry Jelly, and Persimmon Butter. These are in 10 oz. Jars.
- Syrups, including classic Blueberry, Blueberry Maple, Blueberry Amaretto, Blackberry, Raspberry, and Elderberry. These are in 20 oz. Bottles.
- Lemonades in 12 oz. Bottles. Flavors are Blueberry, Blackberry, and Elderberry.
- BBQ/grilling sauces in Blueberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry. These are in 20 oz. Bottles. These are past winners in the American Royal BBQ Contest.
- Sweet Heat pepper jams: Blueberry Jalapeno, Blackberry Habanero, and Raspberry Habanero in 10 oz. Jars. Very popular!
- Elderberry products have been in great demand in the past few years. As longtime elderberry growers and processors, we make Elderberry Jelly, Elderberry Syrup, Elderberry Juice, and Elderberry Lemonade.
- Shiitake Mushroom Products: Shiitake Mushroom Sauce is a flavorful cooking sauce made with our farm-grown shiitake mushrooms. It comes with a recipe flyer/booklet. We also have Dried Shiitake Mushrooms in 1.5 oz. packages and Croutakies, which are .8 oz jars of dried shiitake chunks.”
7.Any plans on opening the restaurant this year?
“Not this year. We closed breakfast and lunch service last year due to COVID and have not had enough staff to run it this year.”
8.Tell us a little about your team of employees at the farm! I also had the pleasure of meeting Jon Thompson, who was selling pottery outside. Do you typically have artisans on the property?
“Our team of employees is the best. We have a year-round staff supplemented by seasonal staff who bake and help in the store during the summer season. As for the craftsman, Jon is a neighbor and a friend of many years. When his show season dried up due to COVID last year, we invited him to set up at the farm to sell his beautiful work. Usually, he would be on the show circuit. We don’t plan to set up an expanded craft area. We do sell cobbler dishes made by another area potter, LeeAnn Burkett.”
Customer Reviews on Persimmon Hill Farm
“A great off the beaten path with great service and amazing berries and cobbler!!” – Melvona Ahart, Google Reviews 2021
“Fresh, pesticide-free blueberries! What’s not to like about that! If you like blueberries and blackberries, and you’re in the area, you need to stop in and pick some. There’s just something nice about being able to pick fruit right off the bush and eat it. They also sell a huge muffin called the Thunder Muffin made with berries from their farm.” – Michael, Google Reviews 2021
“Absolutely love this place. You got to have a Thunder muffin that is delicious. This is a destination for the whole family. We met one of the owners, he was so nice, and you could tell he was truly happy to be doing what he loved.” -Brian Davis, Google Reviews 2021
“Blueberries, blackberries, jams, and muffins! This great local spot is so much fun. We picked blueberries and blackberries there. They are so friendly, and it’s all set up for you to have a great experience. Their Thunder Muffins are great, and their jams are delicious! Definitely worth a trip. After the berry season is over, head out for some shiitake mushrooms. Our grandson loves it! Lots of people there and the berries are awesome!” -Tu Terri, Tripadvisor
The talented husband and wife duo Jon and Debbie Thompson sometimes make an appearance at the farm and sell handcrafted stoneware, birdhouses, pottery pieces, and more! Jon( pictured below) is seen making pottery with skilled and practiced hands. The couple has had a pottery studio going since the 1980s. You can learn more about their business here at – Debbie’s Birdhouses.
Persimmon Hill Farm Address: 367 Persimmon Hill Ln, Lampe, MO 65681 (Follow the bear signs!)
Business Hours: 7 AM – 7 PM Tuesdays through Saturdays through June 26. Persimmon Hill Farm will supply guests with everything they need for picking, including buckets and plastic bags. An employee will show which fields are open for picking and how to tell when berries are ripe by color. When guests are done picking their fill, they can bring their buckets and bags inside to be weighed, and the price will be based on the weight, which is $3.99 per pound. Already-picked berries are $4.99 per pound. You bring your friends and family; Persimmon Hill Farm will provide the experience!
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