Had a delightful afternoon yesterday picking strawberries at a neighbor’s pick-your-own field.
Although I had ridden past Reyer Farms (about 7 miles from our house) on several occasions, I had not noticed any strawberries before! Strawberries are relatively rare in Mississippi as a crop, though common in neighboring Louisiana. The Magnolia State has the climate for it, but has more of a truck crop history for tomatoes (in South Mississippi) and a booming blueberry industry.
My beautiful wife Annette alerted me to signs pointing down Storm Road that said “Strawberries” on the highway that goes by our house about a mile away that she saw while coming home from the grocery. She followed the signs and came back to the house after picking some of the fruit, saying, “Jim, you’ve got to go check it out!”
I hopped in the car and followed the signs. When I got there, I saw a big field. How could I have missed this?
The mystery was solved after a conversation with farmer/owners Jody and Brittany Reyer. This is only the second year they have grown strawberries, Jody said. They tried them out last year, then expanded to cover the field this year. They’re adding another field for next year.
Jody said that he’s using as few chemicals as possible, OMRI approved (for organic certification), though he hasn’t signed on with any organic growing certifying agencies. He’s interested in sustainable farming and concerned about the safety of the food he grows. “That’s my daughter out there barefoot in the field,” he said, pointing to his little daughter Annie playing next to his wife, exemplifying his concern for safety. He said his family lives with the crop, eats it, and shares it with others. He plans to grow tomatoes for the summer.
His strawberries look great. As I was picking, Brittany, who was picking a flat to sell to a restaurant a few rows over, hollered, “Have you tried any yet?”
“Not yet!” I replied. “Maybe I ought to!” I put one in my mouth. It melted into sweetness. That only renewed my picking fervor.
I had a blast picking a flat of strawberries, and will probably check back in a week or so to see if they still have some to sell.
Reyer Farms is located near Lena, MS. Phone: (601) 906-8991
For a map and other info, see: http://ms.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/business/907997-reyer-farms
(Note: I happily paid full price for the flat of strawberries; no freebies or inducements; this is not an advertisement, only a sharing of something I think is great!)
Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit blueskywaters.com.