Photos by Steve Barnum / Reporter
The sun was shining over the strawberry field of Batey Farms in Murfreesboro as people were enjoying the experience of plucking their own ripe strawberries straight off the plant.
Katherine Whitt, co-owner of Batey Farms, said that if you’ve never picked your own strawberries before, it’s an experience.
“(People) just like to get out and be with their family and not do something at a shopping mall. They like to get down in the dirt and figure out where their food comes from,” Whitt said.
She described the strawberry field as like having a child. It’s something that takes a lot of work and delicate care.
“In August, they will fertilize the field, work the ground until it’s easy to sift. Their plants arrive in September, which is when they raise the beds and start the planting process,” Whitt said.
Despite all of that hard and meticulous work, Whitt explained that, generally, the season will only last about six weeks. In total, it lasts most of May and a week or two in June.
McKenzie Wallace, the flower and vegetable manager at Batey Farms, was out manning the strawberry field and helping customers.
Wallace explained that in 2016, Batey Farms won Tennessee Magazine’s best agritourism/pick your own farm for Middle Tennessee.
“With that, they actually took a step this year with their strawberries as kind of the highlight at you-pick at Batey’s thus far, and they expanded it by about two acres,” Wallace said.
Altogether, there are now about six acres of chandler strawberries for people to go out and enjoy a nice day of strawberry picking.
“You fill up a basket, and you get about four-and-a-half to five pounds pretty easily. We charge by the pound, and this year, we have had a crazy number of strawberries. So we’ve actually had a lot of specials,” Wallace said.
Wallace described the you-pick strawberry field as a cooperative operation between Batey Farms and the community. The customers keep the plants healthy by cleaning them up and speeding up production.
“Most folks who come here, we ask, ‘Have you picked strawberries with us before?’ ‘Have you ever picked strawberries?’ And, of all ages, you’ll hear ‘No!’,” Wallace said.
She explained that some people are up in their years and others are bringing their children, and it’s their first time picking strawberries. However, she feels that no matter the age, strawberry picking offers a great family, physical and emotional activity.
“There is something for everyone. Whether you know what you’re doing, and you’re a gardener and you love harvesting your own food and purchasing local food, or whether you’re into doing something new for the first time,” Wallace said.
Wallace said that she never ate strawberries for the first twenty years or so of her life because they came from grocery stores and not in a natural way.
“I tried them and hated them. The moment I started growing strawberries and picked one off the vine that had never been in a cooler and have been sweetened by the sun, it literally changed my life. And that’s why I grow food: because this is where it’s at,” Wallace said.
To contact Lifestyles Editor Wesley McIntrye, email email@example.com.