Pickers at Blueberry Dunes bring in hundreds of pounds of fresh berries every day. The berries are sold quickly once they are brought in from the fields to the roadside store.
Pickers at Blueberry Dunes bring in hundreds of pounds of fresh berries every day. The berries are sold quickly once they are brought in from the fields to the roadside store.

LA PORTE, Ind. — Berry season is in full swing at Blueberry Dunes, a family-owned business in northern Indiana.

The property has a rich history in blueberry growing. Berry fields were planted in 1936 and expanded in the ‘50s.

Don Kepler, current owner of Blueberry Dunes, took over the property in 1998. Now, the farm has 25 acres dedicated to producing blueberries.

“It’s the early part of the season, and it seems like it is going well,” Kepler said. “The berries are doing well. We’re surrounded by a forest, which cuts wind damage down. It’s a very good place to grow blueberries.”

Kepler said that the groundwater in the fields protects the berries from damage.

“We had a really notable drought five years ago, and they didn’t even show stress,” he said. “Some other nearby blueberry farms had to irrigate or lose some plants. Our plants didn’t look like anything was happening.”

Blueberries typically are harvested July through August. They thrive in the soils of northern Indiana, where blueberry farms and stands can be found scattered throughout the region.

Blueberry Dunes sells fresh blueberries by the pound, as well as honey, jellies and jams. Visitors can save money by picking the berries themselves.

Kepler said that many visitors come from Chicago to pick blueberries and spend the day outside. People also can rent the property for events including weddings, parties and get-togethers.

“The barn is now a venue where we can do events and weddings,” Kepler said. “We have picnic tables used by people for dinner parties. There’s more of that than we did in our earlier years.”

Sue Albertson, an employee at Blueberry Dunes, has been around the blueberries since before the farm was owned by Kepler. She’s been picking berries from the age of 5.

“It’s really busy — we have to direct traffic on weekends,” she said. “They come camping. The kids can play by the pond. They have picnics in the back, and they just make a whole day when they come. They meet their families here, and we have a lot of get-togethers here.”

Albertson said there always has been a crowd at Blueberry Dunes.

“This farm is one of the most friendly,” she said. “As far as the pickers, the people that come here, they return year after year with their family. It’s always really busy — and not just blueberry time, but after that, too.”