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Fresh Strawberries

Farm offers pre-picked and ‘pick your own’

Those Central West Virginia natives among us recognize each May that it will not be long before ripened strawberries will be available from our area farms.

Buckhannon’s annual Strawberry Festival has always ensured competitions among State strawberry growers and a native of that town has won its sweepstakes awards at least three consecutive years since she began her large Hardy County Old Fields area strawberry operations.

Miriam Schabinger Leatherman has planted this fruit at her Buena Vista Berries Farm fields for the past 10 years. The three-quarter acre plot is home to 8,000 strawberry plants. A former County Extension Agent for Families and Health, she insists on growing a natural berry using fertilized soil, but no chemical spraying.

Leatherman predicts mid-May as a usual time the berries are ready and they remain available usually until mid-June. Interested buyers can call 304-538-2788 to place orders for pre-picked berries that cost $5.25 a quart. Containers are provided at the farm for those who want to pick their own.

A wonderful feature of the farm is to provide opportunities for individuals to spend time picking their own berries and often one will observe a mother with children, all gathering their fruit together while getting some good exercise. A discount of $1.25 is given for each quart a patron picks themselves, making the cost $4.

The Buena Vista Strawberry farm is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. One can get to the farm by going to Thomas and taking Rt. 48 East on the pleasant drive to the Moorefield Exit. At that point, one should take Rt. 220 North. From the Sheetz store go five more miles to the Buena Vista site on the left.

During my interview with Miriam Schabinger Leatherman, a discussion ensued about “seasonal cravings” and we decided Harman author Mary Beth Lind’s book “Simply in Season” described it best. There are just certain foods traditionally eaten at certain times of the year.

The Buena Vista owner noted that one reason she decided to begin a berry-picking operation was because so many berries shipped into the state quit developing their sweet taste when they are actually picked.

Leatherman stressed, “To enjoy strawberries with maximum flavor, they need to be picked when fully matured and eaten soon after for best taste and fulfillment.”

So, if fresh strawberries are an item you have shortchanged yourself on for several years, make plans to visit this berry patch. It is a large one and will have many choice berries to satisfy your appetite. It is just one of the many delightful activities we West Virginians lay claim to and our lives are made healthier and happier because of it.

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