Farewell to Finke’s Berry Farm

After 32 Years in the Berry Business, Doug and Diane Finke are Set to Retire

CARLTON, Minn. – After more than three decades of digging in fields, one Northland couple is leaving the berry business, but not without heavy hearts.

The owners of Finke’s Berry Farm are spending their final summer speaking with customers and making memories on their 120 acre plot of land.

“They’re living organisms. It’s like adopting 65,000 kids every year,” said Doug Finke, Owner, Finke’s Berry Farm.

“We can see the end, it’s good to be coming to the end but it’s sad,” said Finke.

For 32 years, Doug and Diane Finke have helped hundreds of hands fill buckets at their berry farm in Carlton.

“I tell the workers to handle the plants with dignity,” said Finke.

Dignity is now showcased more than ever as final days start to dwindle.

“We are going to retire, this is our 32 season and we decided it’s time,” said Diane Felde-Finke, Owner, Finke’s Berry Farm. “We’re getting older and our bodies are not doing as much work as we would like them to.”

With tired hands and heavy hearts, the Finke’s will soon hear the final picks from their patch.

“It’s time to maybe experience a summer like other people do,” said Felde-Finke.

“When we started on this side, it was a quack grass hayfield. Plotted out the fields, plowed every cent we could back in here,” said Finke.

After yielding for years, Doug and Diane do hope they are able to travel, stopping at other berry patches and picking for fun.

“We have been here since we were 34 and 36 years old,” said Felde-Finke.

Berries, creating a business for this family of four.

“This has been a family tradition for so many people,” said Felde-Finke.

Year after year, thousands have made their way from near and far for buckets of freshly picked produce and memories that’ll last a lifetime.

“Recently a woman pulled up that I’ve known for years and she was going to say something and I could see she was tearing up. She just kind of gave the farewell, final wave and I waved back,” said Finke.

But then, one final farewell to Mister Finke from the window of her car.

“They looped around on the road and I came up beside them with a trailer leaving and I just tipped my hat to them and then both of us were wiping our eyes,” said Finke.

“It’s more the people who just give you a hug that’s tougher or the other one too when some of the former employees come back,” said Felde-Finke.

As for now, strawberry season has soaked up. Blueberries will come and go, but most of all the Finke’s will say farewell with happy hearts.

“Thank you to all the people out there who have been coming to the farm so many years,” said Felde-Finke.

“It’s humbling when you can hang a sign on the end of the driveway and make a living at it,” said Finke.

The Finke’s are selling 40 acres of their land to a nearby neighbor.

Steven Schulstrom, Owner of Spectrum Farm Strawberries, will be keeping the fields alive.

He and his family are thrilled to spend the next few months learning as much as they can about the berry business.

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