Business spotlight: A family tradition of providing the berry best
Roehrborn’s Berry Patch celebrates 45 years in business
By Matthieu Vollmer
MARSHFIELD — Roehrborn’s Berry Patch ended the season on July 4, marking its 45th year in business.
“We had a very good year. Our Weber’s Farm Store location was a success, and we plan to do that again next year,” said Amanda Roehrborn, wife to Andy Roehrborn and daughter-in-law to Erv and Rae Roehrborn. Erv and his wife Rae sold their first crop of strawberries in June of 1970. Erv is a longtime member of the Wisconsin Berry Grower’s Association.
Andy is a third generation strawberry farmer. His grandfather, Erv’s father, and his uncle, Erv’s brother, were also berry farmers.
“We enjoy it and meeting so many people. You have to enjoy getting on your hands and knees to pick rocks and pull weeds,” said Erv.
“I like driving the tractor,” Andy said.
Jenny Sternweis, a loyal customer since Roehrborn’s first growing season, said, “They’re friendly, and the berries are excellent and delicious. They have very good management as far as handling customers. My husband (Jim) and I both still pick.”
“It’s excellent,” said Jim.
According to Amanda, the berry patch attracted roughly 300 customers per day from June 18 through July 4. Sternweis said laughingly, “It’s always full,” speaking in terms of both berries and customers. The farm has a history of longtime customers who picked well into old age, some over 90 years old.
The family recalled times during the 2013 picking season when 500 to 600 customers visited in one day. The patch has attracted people visiting relatives from across the state and even folks from Minnesota and Alaska. “We used to have lineups down to the highway,” said Rae.
Roehrborn’s hires about 10 seasonal staffers to help during the picking season. They even have a frost alarm in their bedroom to alert them when the air temperature gets too low. They turn on the irrigation system at 34 degrees as the blossoms on strawberry plants die at 32 degrees. If the temperature drops to 28 degrees, the entire crop can be lost.
According to Andy, they had frost three times during the growing season this year, whereas in 2014 they did not have any frost. “That’s farming. It’s never the same,” Erv said.
“People just ranted and raved last year. The berries were great,” said Rae with regard to the 2014 season.
Roehrborn’s manages the weeds, sprays organic fertilizer, and does regular soil testing to improve yields and berry quality. “It’s also fun for families and kids,” said Amanda.
Rae added, “We’ve even had people push babies in strollers while they pick.”
The patch offers three and one-half acres of the Honeoye variety of strawberries each year. Customers pick two to three pails on average, and a few buy as many as 40 to 60 pails. According to Roehrborn’s, 95 percent of the customers pick on their own, but they do pre-pick for people that are not able. This year 5-quart pails sold for $8 if self-picked or $14 if pre-picked.
To learn more about Roehrborn’s Berry Patch, visit roehrbornsberrypatch.com, call 715-384-4847, or find them on Facebook. The typical picking season is usually from mid-June to early July depending on the weather.