- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - Brenna DeWitt said blueberry farming is going the way of a lot of other crops.

“It’s really gotten to where it’s get big or get out,” she said.

At Blu-Witt farms, she and her husband Tom decided to stay small and stay in.

They’ve converted to a “pick-it-yourself” operation and opened their picking season about a week ago.

The DeWitts have been farming about 10 years and had planted high bush blueberries with plans to pick them by machine and market them through a national distributor. But the weather, market prices and some other factors make that too risky, Brenna DeWitt said.

“You could have a great season and so does everybody else and the price plummets,” she said.

Also, a farmer could harvest some fruit with a little freeze damage or some other appearance issues and have it all rejected, she said.

“Last year, we said that’s it for commercial,” DeWitt said.

What they realize, however, is that a little blemish on the skin doesn’t affect the nutrition or the taste and that people who pick the berries are just as happy as if they were getting flawless berries, she said.

People who come out to pick bring their children and they have a good time.

“They want to be part of getting their food and share the experience with their children,” she said.

The adults enjoy it, too.

Vince and Pon Essig were picked on side-by-side rows just before noon. Asked why she picks, Pon Essig said, “For a healthful purpose. We love to eat blueberries. We love it here. It’s so peaceful.”

And popping a couple in her mouth, she said, “I get to eat blueberries free.”

Those will augment the ones she’ll eat at home in Brunswick. Forming a cup with her hands, she said, “I have this much every morning.”

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