You may have passed Bhavana Blueberries on Horton’s Lane in Southold and thought to yourself, “What is that place?”
This week, I stopped by to find the answer for you.
The farm, which harvested for the first time last year with a 4,000 pound haul, will begin its second harvest this week. The hope is to pick between 10,000 to 20,000 pounds this season.
“The Duke” is the earliest ripening variety and the taste is sprite and sweet with a deep blue-coloring.
Farm co-manager Mickey Harley called blueberries “fickle little plants” because they are hard to get established and they do not compete well with weeds. He noted that “learning how to beat back the weeds takes a lot of trial and error.”
“Hand weeding is what we do and it’s back breaking,” he said.
Bhavana Blueberries gets its name from the Sanskrit word for cultivating. Long Island’s largest blueberry farm, it will open to the public for pick-your-own hours on July 1.
The berries will also be sold at the local IGA, Stew Leonard’s in Farmingdale, Sang Lee Farm in Cutchogue and Chef Hayden’s Farmers Market on Fridays at North Fork Table & Inn in Southold.
Mickey said the commercial berries you buy in the grocery store lose their flavor rapidly, but Bhavana Farm picks and delivers locally the same day. The farm should have berries ripening through September.
The property is completely fenced in to keep out deer and the plants are tied with reflective tape every few feet to scare off the birds. They also bring in a falconer, Fred Vesce of Copiague, to fly his peregrine falcon on the weekends as an added security against birds.
Lucas Natali, who does public relations for Bhavana, wants to change the perception of the working farm.
“We want to become a destination out here,” he said. “We have the raw product, but we want to turn it into an experience. Picking blueberries — it’s about having a day on the North Fork. The most wonderful part for me is seeing the community come together to help support the farm and make a connected community.”
The almost 31-acre property was once owned by the Conway family, planted in potatoes, cauliflower and cabbage, and the development rights on 29 acres were bought by Southold Town in 2010.
In 2012, Bhavana Berries LLC of Amityville closed on the property and began planting six varieties of blueberry bushes totaling 50,000.
The farm is managed by Harley and Paul Loveless, who plan to add another 10,000 to 15,000 bushes this year.