Since the Hollis Strawberry Festival is coming up on June 28 from 2-4 p.m. at the Hollis Town Square, (we) thought it might be nice to learn about the strawberry.
The strawberry goes back over 2,200 years and grew wild in Italy as long ago as 234 B. C. When the first Europeans arrived in Virginia in 1588 the strawberry was discovered there. Early settlers in Massachusetts enjoyed strawberries grown by the local American Indians who cultivated strawberries as early as 1643. Since the early 1900s, California has been growing berries.
How did the strawberry get its name? Some believe the name came from the practice of placing straw around the plants for protection. Others believe the name originated over 1,000 years ago because of the runners that spread outward from the plant. The name may have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon verb to strew (spread) and the fruit came to be known as streabergen, straberry, streberie, straibery, straubery, and finally, “strawberry” to the English.
The strawberry is a bona fide super food, nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants. It boosts immunity, promotes eye health, fights cancer, keeps wrinkles at bay, fights bad cholesterol, reduces inflammation, aids in weight management, boosts fiber and helps regulate blood pressure. Wow!
One would think that it would be easy to grow strawberry plants. However, growing strawberries is very labor intensive. The preparation for planting this crop starts way back in March, when the soil is covered with straw to prevent frosts from hardening the ground, keeping the soil soft and ready to receive the plants.
Once planted, the strawberry plants require lots of attention. The plants need up to six hours a day of sun for them to grow properly. Then there is the weeding to keep from losing the plants. Mulch is important in a strawberry field to help regulate the temperature of the soil, discourage the growth of weeds and to keep the fruit itself cleaner and better for harvesting.
Making things more difficult, there are many diseases strawberries can attract. A mold known as Gray Mold can destroy a field of strawberries, killing the berries and the flowers. Other diseases such as leaf spot, leaf blight and leaf scorch tend to affect the leaves. Then, there are critters to deal with such as birds, slugs and rootworms, just to name a few. For good growing one needs “Goldilocks” weather — neither too hot, which can cause the berries to become mushy too soon, nor too cold, with extreme frosts, which can kill the plants.
Although strawberries with some tender loving care can be grown in many places, over 75 percent of those sold in the United States come from California. However, these strawberries are picked before the berries reach peak flavor. They grow moldy faster due to sitting during transit.
Locally-grown strawberries not only taste better but by buying fruit at local farms you support local agriculture. Please join the Hollis Town Band and Hollis Woman’s Club by attending the Hollis Strawberry Festival on Sunday, June 28, from 2-4 p.m. to enjoy locally grown strawberries from Brookdale Fruit Farm and Lull Farm.
In preparation for the Hollis Strawberry Festival and Town Band Concert, the Hollis Town Band and the Hollis Woman’s Club want to put a huller in your hand. Using a huller takes away a lot of messy work, and ensures that most of the strawberry is preserved. No special skill is needed, so grab your apron and join us on Friday, June 26, at 9 a.m. for a Hulling Party, held at the Hollis Congregational Church in Hardy Hall.
It is a fun time and a great way to catch up with your neighbors. The festival has been a local tradition that’s grown from a small celebration to an event that attracts hundreds of fans of two American traditions, strawberry shortcake (with homemade biscuits!) and rousing, well played band music.
If you are interested in helping please contact Patti Tures at 603-889-7890 or email her at email@example.com.