A bumper crop of blueberries: Hard work pays off at Cedar Creek Produce

July 22nd, 2019

Cindy Larson -- Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

The first thing you might notice about Amy Slentz is her handshake.

It’s firm and strong, but that’s not because she spends hours at the gym. It’s due to the hard work entailed in running Cedar Creek Produce, which she and her husband, Randy, have done for the past 23 years.

Their market, located at 11709 Clay St., Leo-Cedarville, sells U-pick strawberries and blueberries in season. Strawberries are done for the season, but blueberries are ripe for the picking right now, and Amy says they have a bumper crop.

In addition to those two crops, they grow pumpkins, sweet corn, asparagus, apples, peaches (although they won’t have any this year), and gourds.

As if that isn’t enough, in late winter they tap their maple and black walnut trees and make syrup. She says they try to make 85 to 100 gallons of maple syrup each year.

Randy is a beekeeper; you can see the hives on the perimeters of the property. So they also sell honey and beeswax candles.

Pots and pots of mums are being started now for fall sales. They sit out in the sun all day so they need to be irrigated.

“It’s a lot more work than you can ever imagine,” Amy says of all the chores required to keep the produce healthy and the customers satisfied.

This time of year, she says every day beginning about 7 a.m. she’s out doing something — and those various chores go on all day long. “No day is ever typical,” she said. “Every day you have a list.” What doesn’t get done that day gets put on the list with the next day’s chores.

They also sell produce from other local suppliers. “We used to grow everything, but you have to decide what you can grow well,” she said.

And then there’s the uncertainty of weather.

“As in all farming you are at the beck and call of nature,” Amy said.

For example, “we had the best strawberries we’ve had in years,” she said. The blueberry plants are loaded with fruit. “But I’ll have no peaches.”

The Slentzes also have a mobile produce unit they can take to farmers markets. Amy used to do seven farmers markets a week, but has tapered off due to the extensive prep time.

They also provide family-friendly activities in the fall, setting up a maze in their greenhouse and a corn trail in their cornfield.

Because hours vary during the season, Amy encourages customers to call or check Cedar Creek Produce’s Facebook page before coming out. The phone number is 260-627-5239. Find them on Facebook by searching for Cedar Creek Produce. Blueberries are $2.50 per pound for U-pick.