It’s not unusual for families to visit Mark and Dawn Sexton’s property for a picnic or to pick their crops. That’s what it’s there for.
The Sextons are the owners of 4-Got-N Tymes Farm in Louisa, where thousands of berry plants produce fruit that’s rich in color and flavor.
It’s a pick-your-own farm and Sexton said people travel from as far away as Pikeville to rummage through the vines and filling baskets, paying for their finds by the pound.
Bill and Rosemary Ruggles of Cannonsburg brought one of their daughters, most of their grandchildren and one of their friends for an outing.
“We had a picnic lunch and we planned to come here, but we didn’t know he had a picnic facilities,” she said. The family had visited before but on this day, they lunched along Little Cat Fork Creek and picked strawberries that were to become pie, shortcake and, perhaps, freezer jam, at the Ruggles’ house.
Not all the Ruggles will indulge in the treats.
“(Grandson) Jacob is the best kind of picker,” she said. “I doesn’t like strawberries but oh, he loves to pick them.”
Mrs. Ruggles said during her last visit, Sexton showed her the straw trick.
“Put a broom straw crossways on a watermelon. If it’s ripe, it turns longways,” he said. “That’s old school.”
The Ruggles aren’t unusual guests at the farm.
“Everybody enjoys it and has fun,” Sexton said. “We have a family atmosphere.”
While strawberry season has passed, Sexton said there are still red raspberries and black raspberries; his blueberries will yield for the first time this year. Later, he’ll have watermelons and in the fall, pumpkins will be ready.
In fact, the farm will be part of Louisa’s Heritage Harvest Tour, scheduled for Sept. 29. During the tour, several sites will be open with sights to see and fall-related items available for purchase.
In addition to pumpkins and watermelons, Sexton’s farm will have jellies, jams, fall decorations, Indian corn, gourds and mums. He said last year, about 350 passed through his farm.
Sexton bought the property in 2007 from the Combs family; their ancestors settled the land in 1886.
“It had been in their hands since they settled it,” he said, noting they grew tobacco and also were egg sellers.
The Sextons began setting out plants in 2008 and had their first harvest the following year.
“There’s a lot of history here,” he said, adding the farm techniques they use today make use of a lot of new technology.
For instance, the Sextons began using plasticulture last year, a technique that makes use of plastics in agricultural applications. Sexton has strawberry plants set on a strip of plastic with irrigation hoses along the rows. The use of plastics in agriculture can reduce the growth of weeds, preserve moisture and reduce the number of insects.
As the crowds who visit the farm grow, Sexton also is growing his farm. He said his family put out 22,000 new strawberry plants this year in 2 ½ daysandnext year, he expects to have 40,000 plants producing strawberries.
A farm boy from way back, Sexton said his family enjoys the lifestyle on the farm.
“I like the independence,” he said. “I like getting out of the rat race.”
4-Got-N Tymes Farm off Rt. 3 in Louisa is a pick-your-own farm with a variety of berries and, later in the season, watermelon and pumpkins. Owner Mark Sexton recommends visitors call to learn about the availability of crops before visit at (606) 686-3307.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.