Garett Auxier and his wife Kim, a Cherokee Nation citizen, and other family members spend much time hosting people who travel from throughout the area and out of state to pick blueberries grown on Outback Farm near Pryor. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Outback Farm grows 12 varieties of blueberries on nearly four acres near Pryor. The experience of picking blueberries is a short drive from Route 66. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
For the past four years, the Auxier family has produced two varieties of wine, Gold Dry and Silver Sweet, made from blueberries grown on their Outback Farm near Pryor. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Outback Farm near Pryor grows various types of blueberries and sells wine, jams, syrup, honey and asparagus. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
PRYOR – It’s blueberry picking time at Outback Farm, just a short side trip off Route 66. For the next seven weeks, Garett Auxier and his wife Kim, a Cherokee Nation citizen, and other family members will host people from throughout the area and out of state to pick blueberries.
“Primarily we are a you-pick operation, so what we encourage is people to come out to the farm and pick their own blueberries,” Auxier said. “It’s a great experience for the family, for kids. We’ve actually had families, their kids were knee high, and now they’re teenagers. A lot of people have really kind of made a yearly event for the family. We’ve got people who come from Oklahoma City and Kansas City, so people from all over.”
Auxier said the farm also offers pre-picked blueberries for people who don’t want to or can’t pick the 12 varieties of blueberries grown on nearly four acres.
“Right now we have 12 varieties, and they all taste a little different, are a different size, etcetera,” he said.
The Chandler variety grows as big as a quarter, while most of the other varieties grown on the farm get as big as a dime.
As with any produce farm, the picking season begins depends on the weather or what “Mother Nature does,” he said.
“We can start as early as the beginning of May or as late as mid-June. This year it looks like we’re going to start at the end of May and probably go for six to seven weeks,” Auxier said.
The farm also produces two blueberry wines. “Initially when we started with the wine, what we were doing was whatever berries we had leftover we just mixed them all, and so now what we’ve done is we will take certain varieties and specifically make a carboy with that variety and then we try to compare the taste and the flavor and see if we can really tell a difference,” he said. “We’re still in the infancy stage on that (wine).
He and his family have made wine for four years and have received “good feedback” for their Gold Dry and Silver Sweet wines.
It’s not unusual to make wine from blueberries, Auxier said, because along with grapes small farms also make blackberry, elderberry or strawberry wines. “So, there are lots of options for sure,” he said.
He added that the blueberries for wine are frozen after they’re picked. Later, they are thawed and, at this point, the berries’ skins are loose, making it easier to make wine. In 2019, the farm produced a dozen cases of wine. A case contains 12 bottles.
The farm also works with local beekeepers to have honey to sell.
“People seem to really like the honey. It’s really popular. We sell pints and quarts. We have wildflower honey and clover honey, which is a little different in flavor. Honey is an excellent seller for us,” Auxier said. “We do some jams and jellies. We do syrups, and we do asparagus as well. That’s an early spring crop.”
He said his farm and two other blueberry farms in Claremore and Broken Arrow also work as a co-op to sell blueberry plants. Outback Farm’s busiest and most profitable months are May, June and July. “We always encourage people to come out and bring their families and just enjoy it (picking),” Auxier said.
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers.
For many years h ...