From Downturn to Delicious Success: The Story of Berry Good Farms

Tifton, GA

It’s no secret that Georgia is one of the most diverse states when it comes to agriculture, and that is well represented here at Berry Good Farms in Tifton, where everything from asparagus, to persimmons, to strawberries are grown throughout the year. It all began thanks to a passion for farming and a downturn in the economy more than fifteen years ago.

“At that time, I had a mortgage company, which really set this thing on fire when the mortgage industry was in a financial crisis in 2008, which really hurt the home sales. We do mortgages, home mortgages, and so it sort of just pushed me to the farm more often and I was always planting something,” says Bob Welker, Owner of Berry Good Farms.

While he might have grown up on a dairy farm, Welker has specialized in providing the community with the highest quality fruits, including two that are a staple during the summer months. However, in order to get them, you have to make a trip out to his farm.

“That’s the only way we sale it. We don’t ship. We don’t freeze anything. It’s just all fresh fruit. We’ll either pick it for a customer or typically we like customers to pick their own and they enjoy it, it’s a family type event. We have blackberries, blueberries, strawberries. The attraction really is blueberries and blackberries. Those are the two items that we promote the most. It’s also what I have the most of. I have approximately six acres of blueberries and almost four acres of blackberries,” says Welker.

Even though growing the blackberries come with a unique set of challenges, it is a fruit that does grow pretty well here in the state when properly taken care of.

“If there’s a problem with them, they’re not like a blueberry that are very tolerant of diseases. Blackberries will pick up a lot of different problems. The most recent is the orange blotch. That is caused with an algae. We use a little bit of copper, and it will knock it out, but it has to be on a regular basis and it’s every year now,” says Welker.

If he has anything to say about it, Welker will be at it for many more years to come, as the enjoyment he gets serving the community and tending to his crop helps get him out of bed each and every morning.

“I enjoy it a lot, particularly when everything is running smoothly. It’s getting a little harder now that I’m getting a little bit older, but it’s still very rewarding in that there’s always something. I don’t have to worry about what I’m doing the next day. I just walk out the door and it will slap you in the face,” says Welker.

By: Damon Jones