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May 2015 Country Kitchen

May 2015 Country Kitchen

Late spring is a wonderful time of year: the weather is perfect, school is wrapping up, vacation plans are being finalized and an abundance of Alabama-grown produce is available at farmers markets and roadside stands. 

Among everyone’s favorite late-spring treats are a handful of ripe, juicy strawberries. They’re delicious raw, in baked goods and even in main dishes. Strawberries are packed with beneficial vitamins and antioxidants.

For fourth-generation Montgomery County farmer Stacey Nestor, strawberry season brings back beautiful memories.

“Fresh fruit and vegetables have always been a part of our farm life,” said Nestor, who is Montgomery County Farmers Federation president. “I grew up planting and tending a garden, and we had a strawberry patch. My family loves strawberries.”

Nestor’s daughters, Melissa and Emily, grew up working on the farm with their Pop, Stacey’s father. Pop would let the girls drive his truck in the pasture, play pretend farmers market with them and, of course, encourage them to snack on fresh produce from the farm. Pop and the girls loved strawberries the most, so he always made sure to have them around in the spring, Nestor said.

“He would always have strawberries waiting on them when they wanted a snack,” she said. “He taught them strawberries are always better when they have sugar on them, so naturally the girls still eat their strawberries that way.”

And at home, Nestor and her husband Tim frequently make fresh strawberry milkshakes.

“Immediately following supper in the spring, the girls would start asking their daddy to make them a milkshake,” Stacey said. “Even though they’re not little girls anymore, our refrigerator still stays stocked with fresh strawberries.”

Nestor is confident her family’s strawberry recipes and traditions will be loved for generations. 

“The smell of a strawberry always brings back these amazing memories for all of us,” she said. “My daddy passed away two years ago, and these memories we made will be carried on forever — there is not a doubt in my mind.”