MACON — Tens of thousands of school children visit Georgia’s strawberry farms each year, learning about the berries, how they’re grown and what they look like in the field.
In many cases they get an up-close look at other farm activities, too.
“Actually seeing that the strawberry is grown in the field, they get so excited,” said Sheila Rice of Calhoun Produce in Turner County. “Their little faces just light up. They are used to seeing strawberries in the containers in the grocery store.”
Calhoun Produce has a bee-house exhibit where kids learn about pollination and honey production, wagon tours during which visitors can see a variety of crops and farm animals.
This year, the Ashburn farm has added pig races to its agri-tourism activities. And when the tour is done, visitors can take home some strawberries.
Rice said more than 3,000 students are scheduled to visit on school field trips, and many families make farm visits on the weekends to pick their own basket of strawberries.
The unusually cold winter resulted in a later harvest for many of the state’s strawberry farms, though Rice said it’s closer to normal than the past couple of years. The berries usually are available until late May and sometimes into June. Customers should call ahead for availability.
“The field looks great,” Rice said. “The blooms are loaded. You can look across the field and it’s just full of blooms, and the berries look really good.”
Strawberries are fat-free and contain lots of potassium, fiber and folic acid. According to the Georgia Strawberry Growers Association, eight medium-size strawberries contain 160 percent of the USDA’s recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
“With the growing interest in where food comes from, our Certified Farm Markets program is more important than ever,” GFB President Zippy Duvall said. “The strawberries are delicious and people get to see some of what happens on a farm.”
For more information about Georgia Farm Bureau Certified Farm Markets, including a listing of markets in various areas of the state, go to gfb.org/commodities/cfm.