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A "Berry" Good Time in Merriwether

web posted April 19, 2011

MERRIWETHER – It’s a “berry” good day in the neighborhood, if the neighborhood is Merriwether and you are on Briggs Road turning into Gurosik’s Berry Plantation at 345 Briggs Road, just off Martintown Road in Merriwether. Edgefield Daily.com was taken for a tour of the plantation and facilities by owner Clyde Gurosik and his wife Marilyn, and a very impressive tour it was. 

Mr. Gurosik, or Clyde as he preferred to be called, said he has been growing strawberries “all my life,” relating, “my first memory was being in a baby carrier in the strawberry fields,” as his parents were harvesting in his birthplace of Pennsylvania. Mr. Gurosik said his father and grandfather were growers and although he became an engineer and managed the building of thermo-nuclear weapons for over 20 years at the Savannah River Site with DuPont, and later until retiring during the tenure of Westinghouse, this is what he always wanted to do.

The Berry Plantation expands for 100 acres, though most cannot see the expansive fields from the market building and the “U pick” field nearby. Mr. Gurosik stated he looked at over a hundred different locations in the area before finding his farm, which at the time was forest. “When I saw this place, I knew this is where we needed to be,” he said explaining the soil had the perfect blend of sandy loam on top and a clay base which he said held the proper nutrients better than most soils.

“You can taste it in the fruit,” he said. An opinion that many locals will agree with.

Starting out with just 12 acres, two of which he planted in strawberries, his farm really took off when he retired in 2000. “Right now we have 12 acres of strawberries, two of those being the ‘U pick’ field,” he said. In addition Mr. Gurosik said they have 3 acres of hybrid blackberries, 2 acres of asparagus, and 2 acres each of tomatoes
(7 varieties),  cucumbers, beans, and 3/4 of an acre in flowers.

The strawberry plants are a hybrid strawberry that must be replaced every season to keep out diseases. Mr. Gorosik said he gets his plants from Canada where they are culture grown, otherwise known as cloning, and shipped to him in early September. “We tear everything out, fumigate, replace the mounds and plastic, and plant in September,” he said. “At first, until the roots take hold we pump 1200 gallons of water per minute to the plants,” explaining the expansive $60,000 irrigation system he installed which can transfer water from any of his many ponds to the fields or other ponds using 3 diesel pumps and 7 electric pumps . “We trenched so that when we water, the runoff is directed back to one of the ponds out of the fields. The only thing we lose in irrigation is the evaporation,” he said. At 120,000 plants, that is a lot of water used, and saved.

Mr. Gurosik stated the average cost per acre for planting the strawberries ran between $12,000 and $14,000 per acre, excluding the cost of irrigation and labor and harvesting. The harvesting begins in late March or early April and the season will run through the first part of July. 

The plants will contain fruit sets ranging from 75 to 120 per plant. As the berries ripen they are harvested at three day intervals. 

Currently Mr. Gurosik said they have six satellite markets, Wacky Wayne’s at I-20, Baston Road in Martinez at the Curtain Call, the farmers market, and other locations around the CSRA not counting the home market on Briggs Road in Merriwether.

The other produce will begin to ripen in mid to late May, with the black berries being first, and will also run through July.

In addition Mr. Gurosik said they had added herbs to this year’s list of goodies they provide.

The strawberries are ripe, sweet, and plentiful and Gurosik’s Berry Plantation offers a great family outing to enjoy picking your own, or browsing the gift shop and picking out pre-picked berries.

Additional restrooms have been added to meet the needs of tour busses that visit the farm. Prices have gone up this year due to fuel costs Mr. Gurosik said. One gallon buckets are $11.50, half gallon's are $7.25, and quarts ar $4.00.

What: Gurosik’s Berry Plantation

Where: 345 Briggs Road, North Augusta SC (Merriwether) Directions

When: Season runs April through July 4

Years in business: Started in 1981

Owner(s): Clyde and Marilyn Gurosik
On the web: Gurosik’s Berry Plantation

Phone 803-278-0594

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