Strawberry Season! Strawberries are definitely my favorite fruit. No doubt. Strawberry picking is a tradition in my family. It is a fond childhood memory. My grandmother and mother took me berry picking. Like any child, I likely sneakily ate my weight in the sweet perfect berries in the fields. I’m sure it's because it kept me quiet so that the adults could get this hot and laborious task done. I think the point when I was a child was the jelly filled strawberry pie. I remember my mother not loving strawberries, but dusting them with powdered sugar and they were edible. I thought it was simply magical-straight sugar was allowed!?! Once a year, apparently.
I wonder if they knew I would take my children strawberry picking. I too, struggled to keep everyone happy while I tried to pick enough for all of my plans (definitely no pie-ever). Strawberry jam, shortcake, muffins, smoothies, daiquiris, ice cream, dried and frozen for winter treats. Always, the last bit gets sprinkled with powdered sugar.
As a homesteader, I not only have my own ever-bearing strawberries planted, but I leave as many wild strawberries as possible. Not only are they beautiful peaking through the green grass and serving as a ground cover under trees, they feed the creatures. If there is a lot of wild berry and food for the animal diversity here in my corner, hopefully they will be just as full as I was in that field of my childhood so that they don’t venture into my garden. So far so good. Today I’m surrounded by strawberries! The sweet start of summer in Ohio.
Now though, as I farm my own corner of the world, I still go out to pick more strawberries. As I do. I have a new appreciation for the quantity of food that must be grown to feed this world. As I look up during my short visit to this Ohio field, I think of all of the field workers who move with the crops and assure that if my crop fails, I could run to the store for a clamshell full of California berries. I know that not everyone is interested in subsistence farming and we rely on a vast network of large farms to bring those who live in places with supermarkets fresh foods. I think of my friends who farm and offer local CSAs and sell at Farmers Markets in the region and the year round work that goes into this product we have the privilege to bring home. What awesome endeavors.
I hope and work so that more and more people begin to find the joy in harvesting a handful of their own berries from their yard or porch. Even easier would be to go to a field and pick your own with your children or friends. The feeling of stooping and harvesting your own food in concert with other folks in the field is something you don’t forget. I’ll be there in between the young families with stained fingers and faces and the older gals who know how to share a row and pick it clean. You can even make pie if you insist. Me, I’ll be happy here finishing my bowl sprinkled with sugar.