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Family fun awaits
at Vander Helm Farms

Just a few miles south of Oakdale, along Albers Road, turn off at VanderHelm Farms and you’ll be able to pick some fresh, flavorful fruits. The family-friendly operation is at 1678 Albers Road and features multiple varieties of berries and tree fruits, along with a handful of vegetables.

The produce comes in throughout the late spring and on in to the summer, said Ron VanderHelm, who runs the farm.

“We sell what we grow,” he said.

His wife, Sarah, oversees the farm store, where they do have some pre-picked fruit for sale during the season and where purchases – by the bucket – are tallied up.

The land was originally a dairy that his father and mother purchased and his dad ran until the late 1990s. After his father’s passing, his mom leased out the dairy for about 10 years. Then, the family took the land back over and started a small U-Pick blueberry operation with a few acres of blueberries in 2009.

Mom Corrie VanderHelm-Davis continues to help out and also is a well-known artist.

“The U-Pick is 20 acres,” VanderHelm said of how the farm has expanded since its small start in 2009; nine acres now are devoted solely to blueberries.

Aside from blueberries, they also now have U-Pick strawberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, apriums, pluots, nectaplums, and more. The strawberries are the first crop to be ready for picking, followed by the blueberries, and other fruits ripen as the weather warms up.

“Strawberries are ready in April for sure, sometimes in March,” VanderHelm explained. “The blueberries are ready, usually the beginning of May.”

They typically open for the U-pick operation the first of May and are open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hours may vary; information can be found on the VanderHelm Farms website,

The farm is not open on Sundays.

VanderHelm said the busiest day is either Memorial Day or the Saturday before the holiday, and July 4 is busy as well. He does have some college students that assist at the farm store during the busiest times and his wife oversees that portion of the business. Their children also help out in the store. The season usually runs through the beginning of August.

The vegetables the farm offers include tomatoes, zucchini and some different types of cucumbers.

VanderHelm, who worked for years as a mechanic, also spent about 10 years doing both jobs, before deciding to devote all his time to the farm. He stays busy pruning the trees, keeping them short so the fruit is easy to reach, as well as keeping the sprinkler system operating efficiently and maintaining the existing fruit trees. He has also added some more trees in the last couple of seasons.

And as far as the decision to be a fulltime farmer?

“I was done being a mechanic,” he said.

Now, he enjoys working on the farm and watching families come to spend some quality time together. There are a few picnic tables, some playground equipment, and a place to relax after picking the fruit.

“Morning is the best time to pick,” he said, as that is when the fruit is at its sweetest.

People coming in to VanderHelm Farms get a bucket and pick whatever fruit they want – all is within easy reach – and the purchase price is by the pound, with prices varying by the fruit and subject to change during the season.

“VanderHelm said many of those enjoying the U-Pick experience have their favorites and know when a specific type of blueberry – there are some 15 varieties available – cherry or tree fruit likely will be ready and ripe for the picking.

“Most people think it’s fun,” he said. “They keep coming back.”