May 02, 2017
By Marlee Moore
Mary Charles Burnette and her son, Jared, pick fresh strawberries at their Chilton County farm near Thorsby.
Alabamians craving farm-fresh fruit should look no further than the nearest roadside stand, farmers market or U-pick patch for sweet strawberries.
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Mac Higginbotham encouraged families to load up, support local farmers and pick a farm from the organization’s new list of strawberry growers.
“Strawberries are the quintessential spring fruit,” said Higginbotham, the Federation’s Horticulture Division director. “Visiting a strawberry patch is a great way to get outside, work off energy and taste delicious, Alabama-grown products at their freshest.”
Strawberry season, which peaks in late April to mid-May, began early this year with an unusually warm spring, said Mary Charles Burnette of Chilton County’s Burnette Farms.
“This year’s crop ripened three weeks earlier than normal and has been very abundant,” said Burnette, who operates the farm with husband Mike and son Jared. “The best thing about this year’s strawberry crop is Jared is able to grow for our family’s new market in Pelham, Burnette Farms Market, which opened in April.”
Burnette Farms has grown strawberries intermittently for 15 years, including 30,000 strawberry plants in 2017 with plans to increase production next year.
Higginbotham said travelers headed south to the Gulf of Mexico are already planning stops at patches and farm markets nestled along highways.
“You can find strawberries in Alabama from March all the way into early June,” Higginbotham said. “Availability varies based on location since Alabama is a unique state with warm southern areas and cooler northern regions. That geographical diversity allows consumers to savor fresh, Alabama-grown strawberries for a longer season than other areas of the country.”
While freshly picked strawberries are delicious, the fruit also easily blends into milkshakes, mixes into desserts and can be frozen to enjoy year round.
Strawberry-centric recipes are available at AlfaFarmers.org.
To find strawberry farms, visit Tinyurl.com/ALStrawberries17.