Just the Facts, Ma’am
Huldy’s Farm is a family owned and operated berry farm in Inola, OK, about 30 minutes east of Tulsa. We grow strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries on a peaceful patch of land easily accessible from Highway 412. Huldy’s Farm is open to the public from mid-to-late April through early August, Monday through Saturday from 8am till 1pm.
All berries at Huldy’s Farm are priced as follows:
U-Pick: $21 for a full, level, one-gallon bucket
We-Pick: $36 for a full, level, one-gallon bucket
Huldy’s Farm will also have booths at the Tulsa Farmers Markets:
Wednesdays at the Brookside Market – 41st & Peoria (Whole Foods parking lot)
Saturdays at the Cherry Street Market – 15th Street & Peoria
After picking, strawberries and blackberries are (gently) placed in six one-quart pulp containers. One gallon is four quarts, but we like to divide the berries among six quart containers, so you arrive home with your berries intact, instead of the beginnings of jam! Blueberries are sturdier, so they are packaged in food-safe plastic bags when you pick them, and packaged into plastic pint containers when we pick them.
A (Mostly) Complete History
Marty Johnson grew up on the land where Huldy’s Farm is now located, at the corner of 4195 Road and 590 Road, about two miles west of Inola. Marty retired as a Tulsa Police Officer and was working in the Human Resources Department at the City of Tulsa. Gwen was a Human Resources Director at Kaiser-Francis Oil Company. As Marty and his wife Gwen were approaching retirement, Gwen started thinking about the possibility of having a blueberry farm. Her uncle had a small one in Northwest Louisiana. Marty, however, was at first reluctant, because Gwen had never been interested or knew much about farming. After visiting her uncle’s farm and attending a few blueberry seminars, Marty also became interested and excited about the venture. They sought advice from Alan Ware at the Kerr Center in Poteau, Oklahoma. Gwen and Marty started preparing the land in the Summer of 2005. However, by November 2005, Marty was suddenly diagnosed with metastatic melanoma to the brain. Gwen and their daughter Erin “dropped everything” to take care of Marty until he died in May 2007.
About a year after Marty died, Gwen and Erin met for lunch and Gwen asked Erin what she thought about restarting the blueberry farm idea. Erin was very supportive. Then, Gwen called Alan Ware and asked him if she was (1) too old and (2) too stupid to have a berry farm without Marty’s experience as a farmer. Alan encouraged Gwen to go for it, stating the location of the farm was excellent for customers and the soil was in great condition.
Erin chose the name for the berry farm: Huldy’s Farm. Her grandparents owned a 1955 Chevy Truck named Huldy – a nickname after a woman prophetess briefly mentioned in the Bible named Huldah who was strong in her faith in God. In March 2010, again with the assistance of Erin, friends, neighbors, and Gwen’s Sunday School Class, the first patch of 8 different cultivars (varieties) totalling 360 plants were planted in the prepared ground.
Gwen maintained that first blueberry patch by going to the farm most Friday evenings and Saturdays. For the first two years after planting, the blooms must be removed from each plant to strengthen the root base, and weeds must be kept out of the planting area.
Erin and Gwen decided it would be a good idea to plant up to five more patches of blueberries, so there would ultimately be about 3 1/2 acres. So, in 2011, three more patches were planted, and in 2012, the last two patches were planted. Gwen has three employees working on the farm now: G.W. O’Bryant and two Inola High School students: Nathan Biggs and Austin Miller. Their good, hard work and support has been a blessing, especially in light of circumstances that have happened since that first patch was planted.
Gwen pretty much had the remainder of her life planned: remain a widow the rest of her life, retire in about 5 years from her career in Human Resources, and gradually transform into a blueberry farmer. Then, in 2011, she met and married Gerald Gay (with Erin’s permission, of course!). Gerald helps on the farm, but finds it very interesting that he spent a lifetime trying to grow Bermuda grass for cattle, and now Gwen intends for the berry patch to be completely absent of it.
The first customers came to pick blueberries in May 2013. After visiting Bill Jacobs at his blackberry farm in Owasso, Gwen became interested in growing blackberries. So, she purchased a trellising system from Trellis Growing Systems, LLC in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the fall of 2013, after preparing and fertilizing the planting site, some family, friends, farm employees and workers from the trellis company gathered at the farm and installed the trellis system and planted 1,250 blackberry plants (almost two acres). The first blackberries were harvested during the Summer of 2014.
In March of 2014, Gwen was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. Even though she had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation during the remainder of that year, she was determined to keep the berry farm going. In addition to helping Gerald take care of Gwen, Erin helped pick berries for customers and ran the “berry hut” where customers came to pick up buckets for picking and return to pay for their berries and have them packaged for taking home. Gwen is very thankful for all of the help by family, friends, and employees during her recovery and knows the farm would not have succeeded without them.
Gwen then decided it would be great to also have strawberries at the berry farm. So, an area where some of the blueberry plants were not flourishing was cleared and prepared, and 15,000 strawberry “plugs” were planted in October 2014. The strawberry plants were growing just as planned, the blueberry plants were blooming and showing signs of a bumper crop, and the blackberry plants were showing promise of a large harvest. Then, in March 2015, a hailstorm knocked off almost all of the blooms from the blueberry plants, and a 13-inch rain in late May 2015 flooded the strawberry patch after only one week’s harvest. Those heavy rains, followed by high temperatures and more rain in June and July stunted the blackberry harvest. Gwen’s philosophy: farming is like anything else in life; we must do our best when doing the tasks assigned to us, and leave the results to God.
Soil and foliar samples were taken and tested by horticulture and entomology experts and recommendations were followed to recover the blackberry and blueberry patches. Gwen and Gerald went to South Carolina to purchase 21,000 strawberry plugs that were planted last October. So far, it looks like there will be a very good harvest this year. Each healthy plant should produce between one and 1 1/2 pounds per plant.
Gwen says that if the Good LORD permits, strawberries may be ready late April, the blueberries should be available late May through early July, and the blackberries ready June through early August.
When the berries are ready for picking, Huldy’s Farm will be open Mondays through Saturdays, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. (closed Sundays). Appointments may be scheduled for other times. Please call Gwen Gay (918-261-9003) before coming to confirm the farm is open and the berries are available. The farm will be closed if heavy rains occurred the day/night before or if it is raining heavily during open hours.
There are tables and chairs located near the picking area, folding seats are available for a $1 rental fee to use while picking, free bottled water is provided, and portable toilets are available. Huldy’s welcomes birthday parties, family reunions, and customers are welcome to bring their own picnic lunches/snacks. Please call Gwen Gay to plan your event: 918-261-9003.