Kingsley Orchards revives blueberry farm
For years, Frankford’s old fruit farm was a jungle of weeds set among the cornfields on Blueberry Lane. Only the birds and the locals knew that, somewhere under the tangle, blueberries were still a hidden treasure.
But now, Kingsley Orchards has re-opened the beloved blueberry patch once known as Ryan’s Berry Farm. The farm had changed hands several times before the Meghan and Tony Morgan family picked it up at a 2016 sheriff sale.
Kingsley is an old family name that stems from Meghan’s paternal family tree. The husband-and-wife team began clearing the land that fall, and Kingsley Orchards opened in mid-June as a you-pick blueberry farm with a retail storefront. So people can venture into the fields or quickly swing by the retail store.
Tony Morgan regularly buys and flips land from sheriff sales. But housing developments flew out of his mind when he actually saw the blueberry bushes, curtained by 10 years of weeds and trees.
“Then we saw the giant delicious blueberries… Then we decided we wanted to try to bring the farm back,” said Meghan Morgan. “After we talked to a lot of the local people, and they remembered how fabulous Ryan’s Berry Farm was … we wanted to bring that back for families.”
“Four people weed-whacked for four months straight to clean this place up,” with advice from the University of Delaware, said Tony Morgan. “The berries are very good because it’s … ‘Burnt Swamp’ across the street.”
Blueberries love the acidic soil leftover from the neighboring Great Cypress Swamp, which burned off and on for years, as early as the 1700s.
“They planted them in the 1950s. … They can live to be 100 years old,” said Meghan Morgan. “We had 8,800 bushes to prune.”
Blueberry Lane is a peaceful road with more farmland than houses. Today, Kingsley Orchards is a 36-acre blueberry farm, a remainder of Tom Ryan’s much larger 1980s berry farm, which was previously the Messick family farm in the 1950s.
The Morgans hope to plant more fruits in the future. (Ryan’s Berry Farm had blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches and nectarines.)
Kingsley Orchards uses minimal pesticides. They said they already have dedicated return customers, and they’ve hosted several field trips for local daycares. It was especially eye-opening for the kids who had never eaten blueberries or gardened before, the couple said. The kids learned about bees and pollination; bounced around on the tractor ride; practiced pruning a tree; and searched for bullfrogs and lily pads in the tax ditches.
Many people love the tractor ride out to the fields.
“We got the history, we got an education. … You can tell the time and love they put into this farm. It’s more than just a tractor ride,” said Summer Phillips of Anchors Aweigh Entertainment. “It’s warm and inviting once you come on the farm.”
Families have loved sharing the experience with their children, just as they did with their own grandparents in years past.
Phillips’ own children were delighted to make desserts with berries they’d picked themselves.
“They knew exactly where those blueberries came from,” she said. “They didn’t just come from the store.”
Children have so much fun in the fields that Morgan must sometimes encourage them back out with promises of toys and ice-pops back at the storefront.
The shop also has recipes for people to create at home with their pints and pallets of fruit. Meghan Morgan favors blueberry lemon cake with cream cheese frosting, served fresh and cold from the fridge.
With the blueberry season nearly at an end, what will Kingsley Orchards do next?
How about some laser tag?
The Morgans will partner with Anchors Aweigh Entertainment to bring the party to the farm. People can hire Anchors Aweigh to help host movie nights, laser-tag parties, archery-tag and inflatables at their own home. But if a person’s back yard is too small, Kingsley Orchards will happily host the event.
The Morgans also envision the farm as a picturesque venue for future weddings and birthday parties. In autumn, the blueberry foliage turns red and orange, creating a cozy atmosphere. The Morgans and the Phillipses said they are excited for the possibilities.
Family Fun Day coming to Kingsley Orchards
Some call it National Blueberry Day.
At Kingsley Orchards, they say it’s a great excuse to throw a party.
On Saturday, July 8, Kingsley Orchards will host Blueberry Family Fun Day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We want to celebrate our first season and thank our customers,” said co-owner Meghan Morgan.
Families can enjoy a moon bounce, water slide inflatables, face painting, games and more, all for the cost of a $5 wristband. (Any children using the waterslide must wear a bathing suit with no snaps or buttons.)
The blueberry farm will also have you-pick and its retail store open for business. Vendors will sell food and drinks. Anchors Aweigh Entertainment is co-hosting the event.
Kingsley Orchards is located at 24349 Blueberry Lane in Frankford, about 4.5 miles west of Route 113.