When you grow up on a Maine farm, rarely is the crop raised only one or two kinds.
Diversification is key and not having all your er…. farm produce in one basket so to speak. The money raised during summers from sale of corn, new potatoes, peas and other vegetables came in pretty handy. Because a Maine farmer’s primary bankroll is all planted, cultivated and hoed into the ground hoping for a bountiful fall crop. Today the cost per acre to grow potatoes depending on who you quizzed on a Maine farm hovers between $2300 up to $3000 per square 208′ x 208′ patch of dirt.
The Maine strawberries we grew were in two smaller fields.
The kind too small for larger equipment to excel on but ideal for hand crops like strawberries. The three and four acre minor league Maine farm fields. Where you grid row off the plants. Train the “spiders”. Lay down straw between the rows to keep the grass, weeds, other choking vegetation down. Under control so the strawberry plants can thrive.
Today’s hot stretch of summer humid Maine weather makes me think of picking, selling strawberries. And in addition to the boxes we heaped up on our knees under the hot sun growing up on a Maine farm, quick trips across the US – Canadian border happened frequently too. Picking up flats, crates of already picked Canadian strawberries to add to the ones we grew and peddled on this side of the US border.
Strawberries stored in the cool, dark old Maine farm house cellar to make them last longer.
Because quickly if exposed to the heat of summer, if left in direct sunlight, the overflowing strawberry boxes would settle. Break down and need extra boxes spilled over them to keep them hilled up, overflowing. Looking desirable for customers that lined the Maine farm house driveway for the local field fresh delicacy of the season.
Today has me thinking about heading across the US – Canadian border, picking strawberries, and visions of fresh pies. Strawberry shortcake, jam and other home made items my Mom would prepare for the family table to enjoy. Up the road from our Maine farm, Cora Brown would make a hefty chunk of change to help their small scale agricultural operation peddling raspberries. Susan my first cousin and Milton Cone her husband still tend the raspberry patch for summer roadside sales. The field patch that lives on long long after the originator that planted it has left the revolving blue and green marble.
Today, Elbridge Emerson told me the you pick price in Canada was around $2.50 per box when I stopped in for a cup of black coffee at Cameron’s Market in New Limerick on the way to work. In the stores I am told around $5 dollars per box is the damage, what you should expect to pay for cash and carry local strawberries. Maybe time to plant some strawberries and apply the wisdom, experience learned raising them growing up on a Maine farm.
Maine Farmers Markets, Local Fresh Home Grown Fruits, Vegetables Video.
We only opened the Maine farm fields one year to you pick strawberry operations. The fourth year when they get plowed under. Everything gets started all over with a new crop planted of Robinsons, Bid Reds or whatever varieties that were big moves, shakers the previous season. You pick, where it becomes a free for all and the gleaners eat three boxes during the picking of one. And pay for the one box that marvels skyscaper engineering in dizzy heights, engineering to beat the system. Get more than your money’s worth much like waddling through the all your can eat buffet food line. For the second or third or more time. Burp. Excuse me. (Turning ten shades of red).
As a small Maine boy with large brown eyes, three older brothers growing up on a farm you learn early a lot about human nature, survival.
And good luck trying to get the pickers to stay in certain regions of the strawberry field. Not going to happen. They are marauders, will head, herd, scamper wherever the greatest concentration, easiest picking areas are in a Maine strawberry field.
Maine. All four seasons in one beautiful natural unspoiled space called Vacationland.