A fresh, ripe strawberry is one of nature’s most delicious treats. It would seem something so tasty couldn’t possibly be packed with nutrition, but God saw fit to give the strawberry its incredible sweetness along with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K and also contain healthy doses of fiber, folic acid, manganese and potassium.
In Alabama, strawberries are in season from late March to early June. This time of year, roadside stands and farmers markets are brimming with the bright red fruit, festivals centered around strawberries can be found all over the state, and fresh strawberry desserts are abundant.
Jeremy and Julie Calvert are produce farmers in Cullman County and grow about an acre of strawberries each year along with peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra, green beans, peas, pumpkins, potatoes, cabbage, collards, onions and sweet corn. They run their own produce stand in addition to selling their fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets in Walker and Cullman counties. Jeremy is on the Cullman County Farmers Federation board of directors and is a member of the Federation’s State Horticulture Committee.
“Jeremy didn’t really like strawberries before we started growing them,” Julie said. “He had only ever had them from the grocery store, and they’re just not the same. To be able to pick a strawberry out of the field and eat it is something special.”
Julie and Jeremy both work on the farm full time, and Julie spends her summers selling produce six days a week. Julie said she answers several questions each year about fresh produce and GMOs.
“I have to educate customers sometimes — there are very few GMO fruits and vegetables,” Julie said. “I had a customer try to tell me once that my strawberries were GMO because they were big and pretty. There’s no such thing as a GMO strawberry.”
The Calverts and other produce farmers work hard to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to customers. Growing fruits and vegetables requires a lot of hand picking and care for the land.
“It’s a lot of low-down work, but it’s worth it to be able to provide the best produce to people in our community,” Julie said. “We work hard to take care of our land so we can keep doing this for generations to come — if we don’t take care of the land, it won’t take care of us.”