MAKER: Wells Berry Farm in Lindale
BACKGROUND: In the 1950s, Lenis Wells started Wells Nursery & Orchards. The family business was carried on by his son, Bob Wells, and now his grandson, Ronny Wells, who started Wells Berry Farm in 1983. Wells now has about 10 acres of blackberries and five acres of blueberries in the Lindale/Garden Valley area, and produces about 3,000 pounds per acre. He has scaled down the business, from selling to chain stores in the Houston and Dallas areas and picking thousands of pounds of berries per day, to being more of a retail outlet. Wells said his wife of 30 years, Tanya, is the main part of his inspiration for where he is today and two of his sons, Jonathan and Daniel, help work at the farm while his son Adam is in college.
CHILDHOOD: Wells didn't get to play baseball as a child. His summers were filled with working in the fields and selling fruits, such as blackberries and peaches, at the Dallas Farmer's Market. When he was 8, he'd get paid $5 a day, which he thought was a lot of money for working from 4 a.m. to about 6 p.m. When he was about 10, he was bumped up to 75 cents an hour, and when he started earning $1 an hour, he thought he was rich, he said, adding that he worked about 45 hours a week as a kid and was making deliveries to Dallas with a hardship license at 15. Wells still goes twice a week to the Dallas Farmer's Market and twice a week to the market in Shreveport to make deliveries. "It's a lot of 14 to 16 hour days," he said.
PRODUCTS: Wells sells blueberries, blackberries, peaches, strawberries, okra, squash, onions, tomatoes, plums, watermelons, cantaloupes and shelled peas from a tent outside of Collin Street Bakery, 17044 Interstate 20 in Lindale. Wells grows the blueberries and blackberries, as well as the zucchini and squash, onions and peaches. He said he plants different vegetables every year and his peaches come from the Red Springs/Winona area. Wells said if he doesn't grow it, just about all of the produce is grown by local farmers.
HOURS: The stand is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Wells said it should be open through mid-August, but the availability of the produce depends on the heat. Wells can be reached at 903-316-2426.