PEQUOT LAKES — Jim Fruth, farmer and owner of Brambleberry Fruit Farm in Pequot Lakes admits that his farm doesn’t look like a typical fruit farm; especially when it comes to his apple trees.
“I get a lot of people who drive past my farm and many do a double-take,” said Fruth, who has operated Brambleberry Fruit Farm since moving to the area in 1994. “But there’s a method to my madness.”
That method is using plastic Ziploc bags around the Golden Delicious apples on his apple trees to keep the bugs out and keep his apples pesticide-free.
“I saw the idea (to use bags) used by a guy from Indiana,” said Fruth, who has been using bags to protect his apples for the past 12 years. “It took me awhile to find the right bag, but these (Ziploc sandwich bags) work the best and it takes just as much time as spraying them, but you only have to do it once.”
Placing bags around the apples as soon as they begin to bud, Fruth cuts a small hole in the corner of the bag to allow for the water to drain. He said each year roughly 98 percent of his apples turn out, with this year’s crop yielding more than 600 apples to be sold at the Pine River Farmers’ Market.
But bagging his growing apples isn’t the only unusual thing found at Brambleberry Farms said Fruth.
No stranger to testing new and unique ways for producing and using his crops — Fruth was the original mastermind behind Pequot Lakes’ annual Chokecherry Festival, using his own chokecherries for the pit-spitting contest portion of the festival — Fruth also uses decoys to protect many of his budding berries.
“Birds are attracted to the red on cherries, strawberries and raspberries,” said Fruth, whose farm boasts a number of berry plants along with plums and figs among other produce. “So when they see that red, they attack it and take the berry or peck and pick at it until there is nothing there.
“So what I started doing was placing (purchased) plastic red-berry lookalikes on the plants and putting red rocks on the ground to distract the birds away from my ripening berries.
“I think a lot of people would be interested to try it. It really works great.”
And while Fruth added his farm may look unusual to so many, it doesn’t stop them from wanting more of his crops.
“Each year I never have a problem getting rid of my produce,” he said with a smile. “And if it works, I might as well keep doing it.”