LANGLOIS — Since 1954, the Jensen family has encouraged strangers to mosey through their backyard, share their rows of blueberry bushes with their four dogs and feel free to pick their crops.
For over 60 years, Jensen Blueberry Farm has opened up its three acres of blueberry bushes in Langlois as a U-Pick for locals to come by and pick blueberries themselves.
But if you go there, the farm tries to have its patrons feel right at home, starting from the moment they step on the premises.
"I just leave people on their own," Nancy Leep Jensen, farm manager, said. "Sometimes I need to write better directions, but I have so many people return that they just know what to do. We have hours, people are respectful, and I just give people the benefit of the doubt."
For the past 15 years, the Jensens have gone nearly exclusively U-pick, allowing customers to come out and fill a four-pound bucket with as many blueberries as possible for $10. And Jensen has enough trust in her customers that she doesn't even feel her presence is necessary. Buckets wait at the shed, instructions are labeled clearly and the rest is up to the customer. It is truly "U-pick." Out of all the times semi-regular customer Susan Camp has stopped by over the years, only once has someone been there to get her money.
"They're so trusting," said Camp, who comes down from Coos Bay. "They just think that if you want to steal them, you must need it more than they do anyway."
Nancy Jensen, originally from Myrtle Point, has been running the farm since 1992. The original owners, Charles and Wilma Jensen, initially broke ground in 1948, sticking bushes in the ground from a filled pickup truck to get started. The Jensens had a whole bunch of different varietals that could be harvested early, late and in the mid-season during the summer. The Jensens also planted certain Atlantic heirloom varieties that simply don't exist anymore, and with a glut of blueberries in their diet, Charles lived to be 103 and Wilma is celebrating her 100th birthday this year on Aug. 23.
About 15 years ago, Nancy Jensen decided to make the switch to pretty much exclusively U-pick, and since, regulars have been able to know the difference at the farm.
"It's definitely improving over the past five years," Gayle Bodewig of Port Orford said. "They're maintaining it a lot better. The bushes are a lot smaller. You used to have to dig your way through a lot of the bushes. It's just really nice now."
About 15 years ago, Jensen was encouraged to get Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. So in 2001, with the Jensen farm essentially practicing organic anyway without the certification, they decided to go officially organic. The certification sits laminated on the farm's welcome sign on U.S. Highway 101, helping alleviate the anxieties of new customers.
"People just want that assurance," Jensen said. "When they say they want to know about the crop, when we say we're certified organic, the conversation behind it just stops.
"It's kind of unique, kind of a niche. We have a lot of people that come just for that reason."
As for the rest of the season, Jensen "still has berries ripening," and if past seasons are any indication, she will probably have the farm open through to the middle of September. She knows that she only has a couple more Sundays and Mondays — their busiest days — before the farm closes down until next summer.
Jensen will welcome the waves of customers until her wandering consumers leave for the winter and the farm gets a lot fewer visitors.
"It's like a garage sale; you get a group of people, then it's quiet," Jensen said. "The rest of the year, we're very secluded down here."
Jensen Blueberries is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. everyday and is about 2.5 miles south of downtown Langlois. For more information, call 541-348-2473.