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SWEET REBOUND: Labelle's Blueberry Bunch Farm celebrates a resilient return after Hurricane Ian

Families flock to the farm for a hands-on harvest experience, marking a sweet comeback season
Posted at 3:36 PM, Mar 21, 2024

LABELLE, Fla. — A bountiful blueberry season is kicking off at Blueberry Bunch Farm, a family owned “U-Pick” farm in LaBelle. The harvest there this year is just a little bit sweeter than normal because it’s made a big comeback since Hurricane Ian.

Groups of families piled into the farm on Thursday, eager to fill their buckets with hand-picked blueberries.

"I got two blueberries!" exclaimed a young picker.

The sound of blueberries dropping into buckets became the day's melody, a testament to the farm's recovery and the simple joys of harvesting your food.

"Being with my kids out here - it’s so special to be able to pick something right off the tree and realize ‘Hey, this is where food comes from’," shared Kaci Rex, a visitor to the farm.

Rows and rows of healthy, blueberry bushes were ripe for the picking.

However, the farm owner, Kris Velasco of the Molzan family, said things looked a lot different there last season.

"We got really bad damage during the hurricane Ian. The damage was a lot worse than we thought, initially, I think we lost about 17,000 plants," Velasco revealed.

In a tour around the farm, Velasco showed how much replanting he and his team have done since the hurricane. During the replanting, Velasco said they even brought in more resilient blueberry breeds.

“They’re supposed to produce more fruit and be even better for this climate. We hope this season is going to be a really good one and we can’t wait to see everybody come out for this u-pick season,” said Velasco.

Blueberry Bunch Farm is open for u-pick’s Thursday through Sunday from 9am to 3pm.