Having served 28 years in the Army with numerous deployments, 11 duty stations, and three combat tours, Ken and Cindy DeVan settled near Fort Leavenworth, Ks. With two daughters growing up as Army brats, we’ve sampled u-pick farms from the east coast to the southwest and throughout Europe. Upon retirement from the Army, we decided to start our own berry farm in Kansas on a quaint piece of property on Santa Fe Trail. Researching the property, we discovered that the old Oregon Trail crossed our property. As early as 1830, William Sublette took the first wagons along the Oregon Trail headed west leaving Fort Leavenworth, hence, the farm’s name. Today travelers and locals alike can stop by for berries.
We began amending the already fertile soil by incorporating horse manure from local stables and over 10,000 pounds of coffee grounds and coffee chaff in the first year alone. Working with numerous local tree trimming services more than 70 tons of wood chips were saved from landfills and aid in weed control and water conservation. Each berry row was meticulously prepared for a year in advance to provide an environment that our berries love. We promote an ecologically and socially just food system that looks to supports greater community wellness, reducing waste and improving the land.
We added three bee hives to improve pollination and further develop a healthy ecosystem. The girls love the blossoms and the honey taste great. Chickens were the next addition to assist in pest control and fertilizer. They move along like a herd of velociraptors on the hunt for bugs and grubs. Prior to and during berry season the hens are moved to another area as they enjoy the berry goodness too.
We have enjoyed fresh fruit and vegetables from local markets and farms from around the world and wanted to bring that great experience to others here in Kansas.