The hot summer months bring back memories of picking blackberries in the sweltering Georgia heat. Hopefully we would pick enough for my Grandma to make a blackberry pie. That is, of course, if I didn't eat them all first.
About a mile down Henderson Mill Road off Lackey Road lies Alcovy Berry Farm where you can pick local home-grown blackberries and raspberries until your heart's content. The berries make those delicious blackberry pies, cobblers and jellies that the South is famous for. Not to mention the fact that simply eating the berries plain or in your cereal is both delicious and of great nutritional value.
Alcovy Berry Farm produces some of the biggest and sweetest blackberries around. Raspberries are also available as well as blueberries, in limited quantities. Next year the Worleys expect the blueberry crop to peak.
Jimmy Worley, son of Jim and Sue Worley, purchased a 40-acre plot of land off of Lackey Road and began pondering what they would do with the land. Having a strong family background and love of farming, Jimmy had the idea of developing a berry farm after sitting around with some friends.
Jimmy ordered his blackberry plants, and the project began. Five years later Jimmy says his hobby has stretched to the max as the farm started producing blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Jimmy felt that the agricultural lifestyle that was once prevalent in Georgia was beginning to diminish. The Worleys are a family that wants to keep tradition alive. They feel that hard work, farming and family go hand in hand.
Jim and Sue Worley, who have long resided in Newton County, moved over to the land to work along side Jimmy and his wife Martha on a daily basis. Jim and Sue are not the kind of people who sit still for very long, even in retirement.
It's not an easy life, but very rewarding said Jimmy. The vines take four to five years to mature and there are set backs such as disease and drought.
Sue insists that her son has a "farmer's heart." Jimmy feels strongly about keeping his family close with three generations of Worleys occupying the land. All of the family works together to tend, work and farm.
"This is the way I was raised" said Jimmy, and he intends to do whatever is necessary to preserve this lifestyle.
The Worleys are big supporters of 4-H and feel strongly about the need to promote it. They feel that the experience of the farm and outdoors is being lost, and they want to bring it back. They have had people from all over and of all nationalities come out to the farm and enjoy the experience of picking their own berries. Some of the very young have never picked berries and the elderly want to relive it.
The Worleys have thornless blackberries as well as the regular blackberries.
"Raspberries are a challenge in the South," says Jimmy, "with only one or two varieties that will grow here."
However, with the influx of Northerners to Georgia, Jimmy can't keep enough raspberries on hand.
Berry season begins in mid-June and ends at the end of July, so don't miss out on this opportunity to pick your own berries or pick up some already picked berries from the Alcovy Berry Farm. Located at 740 Lackey Road off of Henderson Mill Road near the Alcovy River the Berry Farm is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. by appointment or "just drop by" says Sue. Lackey Road runs between Ga. Highway 36 and Henderson Mill Road. For additional information, you can reach the Worleys at (770) 385-7383.
Jimmy's wife Martha prepares jams and jellies of all varieties that are available for sale as well as the fresh berries. Every Saturday from May through September Jimmy and wife Martha attend the Monticello Square Market where jellies and berries are displayed for sale from 8 a.m. to noon.
In the movie, "Gone with the Wind" Scarlett's father said it all when he said, "It's the land Katie Scarlett."
How true this holds at the Alcovy Berry Farm. It is refreshing to see a family that has such strong values and holds on to family and tradition, and how wonderful it is that it still exist in good ole Newton County.