Summer may be coming to an end, but Kathan’s Homestead Berries in La Crescent lets people pick their way from season to season.
The Kathan Family has owned and operated their farm since 1856, but over four decades ago they decided to get in to the berry business.
"My mother had a big plan one day at the supper table, and we didn’t know nothing about anything, and we ended up giving it a whirl," Jeff Kathan, owner of Kathan’s Homestead Berries said. "We started in 1975, I just got out of high school, and we started on a small scale and 40 years later we’re probably at 20 acres of fruit farming."
Kathan’s is known throughout the La Crosse Area for their strawberry season, which brings thousands of people to the farm of a three week period during the summer. This time of year, however, the farm specializes in raspberries.
"Hopefully we’ll be picking throughout the entire month of September, going in to early October, but that all depends on the frost. When the first hard frost comes. She’s the boss," Kathan said.
Picking at a farm definitely has its advantages over trekking through the woods. For one, the type of raspberry Kathan grows is a fall-bearing fruit, used at plenty of local wineries, but also for people throughout the area to pick and enjoy long after berries wild ones are done.
"It’s organized, you get nice grassed rows. They are probably five to ten times bigger than a wild one in the woods, and you don’t have to look very hard to find our raspberries," added Kathan.
While picking berries might just be the perfect way to cap off your summer, Kathan’s favorite part is seeing people enjoy the fruit of his labor.
"Kids come in to pay and weigh them, and they are just full of red juice and their shirts are all red and I think it’s a family deal, they can all enjoy it. We grow tons of strawberries, tons of raspberries. The more the people pick, the less I have to pick, so it makes my life better."
Kathan’s berries are still growing, so make sure to plan a trip starting next week to pick some of nature’s goodness for yourself.
For another adventure make sure to check back next Wednesday for a new episode of Hometown Tourist, and a chance to make the La Crosse area your own.