Poca Edition: Shady Oaks Farm

By Candace Nelson - 10:11 AM

Shady Oak Farms

I've been blueberry picking. Strawberry picking. Apple picking. And now, blackberry picking.

Shady Oak Farms

From WebMD: Blackberries and black raspberries are both delicious, wholesome fruits that often get mistaken for each other. They share a dark, rich purple color and bumpy texture that not many other berries have. Despite their similarities, they’re entirely different fruits.

Blackberries and black raspberries are both members of the genus Rubus, otherwise known as bramble plants. Brambles include raspberries, blackberries, and dewberries. Generally, brambles are thorny, bristly bushes that produce fruit during the summertime.

Surprisingly, blackberries and black raspberries aren’t real berries. They’re “aggregate fruits”. That’s because they’re made of drupelets, or individual nubs, that form together to make one whole “berry.”

In the wild, blackberries and black raspberries can be tough to tell apart. Once you pick the fruit, you may be able to tell what kind it is by looking at the core. A blackberry has a soft white or green center. Black raspberries are hollow on the inside, because they separate from their stem when plucked.Blackberries are also larger, shinier, and smoother than black raspberries, which often appear matte with fine hairs over their surface.
  
Shady Oak Farms

My friend Beth and I made a treacherous trip to Shady Oaks Farm to do our picking. Located in Poca, this farm is off the beaten path. I knew they said the road was gravel - which is fine - and that 4WD was recommended - also fine. But I was still in for a treat. 

Shady Oak Farms

Let's start with the berries - a few beautiful rows of lush berries dotted every bush. In varying stages of bright red to deep purple, the berries were plentiful and juicy. We had to fight some flies for our share, but it was a nice - albeit warm - adventure. We paid in cash and they gave us a ziploc baggie to take home our treasures. 

Shady Oak Farms

What is less glamorous: getting lost trying to find the farm because it's not super well-marked. A guy in a jeep telling me my car wouldn't make it. Us trying to walk like halfway there before turning around to get my car. A steep hill downward that goes through a creek - a few inches deep. Up a fairly rocky hill, back down and then a fairly flat area that has lots of holes. On the way back, trying to straddle the middle and right side of the road to not drag and sinking in mud. Literally. Not able to get out. Nearby neighbor tries, calls for help. The folks from the farm very generously hooked a chain up to my car and pulled me back out, so I could climb the hill and then finish the rest of the drive - including through the creek. 

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